SCCA Pro Racing PRO FAX Volume 4, Number 18 July 30, 1997 TROIS-RIVIERES THIS WEEKEND: The SCCA's Trans-Am, World Challenge and KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Championships are in action this weekend at the Player's Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres. The...
SCCA Pro Racing PRO FAX Volume 4, Number 18 July 30, 1997
TROIS-RIVIERES THIS WEEKEND: The SCCA's Trans-Am, World Challenge and KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Championships are in action this weekend at the Player's Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres. The World Challenge race is slated for Saturday, August 2, at 1:15 p.m., with the Trans-Am scheduled for Sunday at 3:45 p.m. The Trans-Am race is being televised live on The Nashville Network, with coverage beginning at 3:30 (ET), with replays on The Speedvision Network, while the World Challenge race will air on a tape-delayed basis on Speedvision (check the TV Listings in this issue for air dates). The KOOL Toyota Atlantic contest will be televised Saturday, August 9 on ESPN2, beginning at 2:20 p.m. (ET).
KENDALL WITHIN ONE RACE OF TYING DONOHUE'S CONSECUTIVE WIN MARK: Tom Kendall (No. 11 All Sport Body Quencher Ford Mustang Cobra) can tie Mark Donohue's mark of eight consecutive Trans-Am wins at the Player's Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres. Donohue's win streak=97established in 1968=97began at Sebring, continued on at War Bonnet, Lime Rock, Mid-Ohio, Bridgehampton, Meadowdale, Mont Tremblant and concluded with a win at Bryar. The streak ended at Watkins Glen, where Donohue finished third. It's ironic that Kendall=97if he were to win Trois-Rivieres=97would have the chance to break Donohue's record at the very track that Donohue's streak ended.
FELLOWS ENTERS TROIS-RIVIERES: Ron Fellows, the two-time defending Trois-Rivieres Trans-Am race winner, will race a Gloy Racing Ford Mustang Cobra at Trois-Rivieres. It will be Fellows' first Trans-Am race of the season and the 96th of his 11-year Trans-Am career. Fellows ranks fifth all-time in career victories with 19 and second all-time with 60 top-five finishes.
GORDON, KENDALL RANK FIRST, SECOND IN DRIVER OF THE YEAR VOTING: Jeff Gordon's domination of the first half of the NASCAR Winston Cup Championship, and Kendall's mastery of the Trans-Am propelled the duo to first and second-place in the Driver of the Year second-quarter voting. Gordon, who won five races in the second quarter, received 10 of the 12 first-place votes, amassing 100 points. Kendall, with four wins in the quarter, placed second with 52 points. Arie Lyendyk, winner of the IRL Indianapolis 500 and the Longhorn 500, came in third with 51 points. Each quarter, the Driver of the Year Award Panel of experts selects six drivers listed in order of achievement, who receive points on a 9-6-4-3-2-1 basis=2E The driver with the most cumulative points is the Quarterly winner. At season's end, each Driver of the Year Award Panelists votes by secret ballot for his single choice for Driver of the Year. The winner is announced in December. The five most recent winners included John Force, NHRA (1996); Jeff Gordon, NASCAR, (1995); Dale Earnhardt, NASCAR (1994); Nigel Mansel, CART (1993); and Bobby Rahal, CART (1992). Trans-Am legend Mark Donohue was the recipient of the Driver of the Year award in 1968 and to this day is the only sports car-oriented racer to win the award.
GENTILOZZI PLANS TO BEAT THE ODDS: "If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have any luck," says Paul Gentilozzi (No. 5 RISO Chevrolet Camaro). It's hard to argue with him, based on the luck he's had in the SCCA Trans-Am's random draw to determine the top-five starting positions each race. Gentilozzi has qualified in the Goodyear Fast Five in each of the seven races this season, which has put him in the Trans-Am's random drawing in all seven races. Gentilozzi has drawn the No. 5 ball in six of the seven races. At round five at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Craig T. Nelson, star of the hit comedy series "Coach", drew for Gentilozzi and picked the No. 1 ball and Gentilozzi started on the pole. In the sixth race at Minneapolis, Gentilozzi and 1996 Trans-Am champion and current points leader Tom Kendall drew balls for each other; once again, Gentilozzi drew the No. 5 ball=97for Kendall=97while Kendall selected the No. 1 ball=97for Gentilozzi who started on the pole for the second time. "I keep thinking this has to stop, sometime soon," added Gentilozzi, "What are the odds?" Based on the laws of probability, the odds are 1 in 2,790 or less than 4 in 10,000 that the No. 5 ball would be selected from five balls six of seven times, according to F. Douglas Muschett, Ph.D. "Based on those odds, I guess I shouldn't place any bets on our season finale race in Reno," said Gentilozzi. "I thought of changing my car number from five to number two or three. At this point, I'm ready to believe in almost anything that could change my luck."
PICKETT CLOSING IN ON MILESTONE: Sunday's Player's Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres will be Greg Pickett's 149th career Trans-Am start. Six days later, at Watkins Glen, Pickett will tie the all-time series record of 150 career starts. If things go according to plan, Pickett will make his 151st career start at Road America, and he'll also have the chance to raise his top-five finishing average to .500 at that venue. Pickett's top-five finishing average now stands at .493. With top-five finishes in the next three races, he'd have 76 top fives and a .503 average. "Finishing half of 151 Trans-Am races in the top five is something to be proud of," Pickett says, "especially when a lot of those races were when the competition in the series was the toughest." Pickett currently holds all-time Trans-Am records for top-five finishes (73) and top-10 finishes (104). His total of 46 top-three finishes was a record until Kendall passed him earlier this season.
WEST MICHIGAN GRAND PRIX COMING IN 1998: SCCA Pro Racing, Ltd. will sanction the West Michigan Grand Prix, and the inaugural event=97scheduled for the weekend of July 24-26, 1998=97will feature the SCCA Trans-Am Championship and include World Challenge and Spec Racer Ford Pro Series races. Dan Greenwood, SCCA Pro Racing, Ltd., president and CEO and Dan Beahan, West Michigan Grand Prix event director made the announcement last week (July 24). The Brayton Memorial Street Circuit=97named for the late Scott Brayton, past driver for the Amway Indy Car team=97is situated in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids and will be 1.5-miles in length, with 13 turns. According to Dan DeVos, Chairman of the West Michigan Grand Prix Association (WMGPA), proceeds will be used for downtown revitalization. The DeVos-led WMGPA is a non-profit corporation composed of civic leaders. The West Michigan Grand Prix is located at 15 Ionia SW, Suite 500, Grand Rapids, MI, 49503. The phone number is (616)-336-PRIX (7749).
ROB FELLOWS WINS AT HEARTLAND PARK: Rob Fellows (No. 4 AER Manufacturing Saleen Mustang) won his first career SCCA World Challenge race this past Sunday at Heartland Park Topeka. Fellows' win was anything but easy, as he spent the first 27 laps in hot pursuit of Lou Gigliotti (No. 1 LG Motorsports Saleen Mustang), finally passing for the lead with four laps remaining. "Lou's one of the hardest guys to pass," said Fellows. "I just tried to keep the pressure on which was really tough because it was hot out there and being stuck to his bumper for 27 laps was really intense. I tried to stay patient and eventually it got to him. He slid wide and I got underneath him in the back section." Moments later, Gigliotti's car sat sideways in turn one, the victim of a mechanical meltdown of sorts. His left rear brake caliper caught fire, disintegrated, and then caused the right rear tire to let go. The incident brought out a full-course yellow with two laps to go, and the race ended under caution. Rounding at the top three in Touring 1 were Peter Cunningham (No. 42 RealTime Racing/Comptech Acura NSX) and Cameron Worth (No. 75 Pettit Racing Mazda RX-7). Cunningham continues to lead the Drivers' Championship with 159 points, followed by Gigliotti with 145, Simon Gregg with 136 and Fellows with 135.
VANOVERBEEK TAKES TOURING 2 WIN: Johannes vanOverbeek (No. 23 Last Minute Racing BMW 325is) turned in a career drive to gain his first World Challenge Touring 2 victory at Heartland Park. His previous best finish this season were a pair of eighths at Mid-Ohio and Watkins Glen. van Overbeek led 25 of the 30 laps=97the first 15 laps and the final 10. Jim Lovett (No. 46 RealTime Racing/ Comptech Honda Prelude) led the laps in between, and in fact looked to be victory bound. Lovett had built a nice cushion between himself and second place and if it had not been for a slipping clutch and a broken exhaust pipe the victory could have been his=2E As it was, he dropped from the leader board and wound up fourth in class. Joining vanOverbeek in the Touring 2 Winner's Circle were a pair of ICY Racing/Quaker State Saturn SCs, driven by Walter Puckett and Paul Booher, who finished second and third, respectively. Defending Touring 2 class champion Michael Galati maintains a lead the Touring 2 class Drivers' Championship with 163 points, followed by Booher with 148, Pierre Kleinubing with 145 and Lovett with 124.
MUMM WINS THRILLER: Robert Mumm, of Hales Corners, Wis., gained his second SCCA Spec Racer Ford Pro Series victory of the season at Heartland Park Topeka, winning a thrilling race that included seven lead changes among three drivers. Mumm averaged 76.55 miles-per-hour, as he covered 24-lap, 50.4-mile sprint race in a time of 39 minutes, 30.175 seconds. Mumm took the lead initially on lap 10, but lost it to Leo Capaldi on lap 11. Mumm regained the lead for laps 12 through 17, only to have Capaldi repass him on lap 18. Mumm took the lead for good five laps from the finish, but Capaldi and Warren Stilwell mounted another series of challenges down the stretch. Mumm, who won early this season at St. Petersburg, held on for the 0.210-second victory, with Capaldi taking second and Stilwell third. "It was a really awesome race," said Mumm. "It was the toughest race that I've been in in a long time, with the heat and the competition. The victory could have gone to any of the top five guys really...all it would have taken was just one mistake on any of our parts." Keith Scharf continues to lead the Drivers' Championship with 86 points, but Mumm has closed to within two points, 86 to 84, with three races to go.
RENO GRAND PRIX PROGRAM MATERIALS NEEDED: The Reno Grand Prix is inviting SCCA Pro Racing teams to send in publicity materials for its program. The deadline is September 2, and materials should be sent to Carol Tanis, Reno-Sparks Convention & Visitors Authority, P.O. Box 837, Reno, NV 89504=2E
U.S. FF2000 UPDATE: Brazilian Zak Morioka (No. 27 KFC of Brazil Van Diemen Ford) captured the U.S. FF2000 Oval Crown Championship at the Charlotte Motor Speedway U.S. FF2000 National Championship presented by Spawn double-race weekend, July 25-26. Morioka took the points lead from Buddy Rice after Friday's race, in which Morioka finished third and Rice 37th. Ryan Hampton, driving the No. 80 American Instruments Van Diemen Ford, took the win in the 30-lap contest which saw 16 lead changes. Both Rice and Robby McGehee still had a chance to take the crown from Morioka in Saturday's race, and when the 18-year-old Brazilian rolled to a stop witha broken half-shaft, the title was entirely up for grabs. Rice (No. 19 Lynx Van Diemen Ford) missed his opportunity when he crashed on lap six. McGehee (No. 18 Hudson Food/Energizer Van Diemen Ford) needed to finish seventh or better to take the crown, and was running sixth coming up to a restart with two laps remaining. Wounded by earlier contact, McGehee dropped to 10th in the final laps, handing the championship to Morioka. Polesitter Andrea De Lorenzi (No. 50 Caffe Essse/Motorquality Tatuus) took the win, extending the series' record for consecutive first-time winners to nine. Rice still leads the overall championship, 136-134 over Morioka, followed by Hampton and Duncan Dayton with 119.
ACRL UPDATE: Team Fresno's Steve Romak won the American City Racing League event at Laguna Seca this past weekend, and teammate John Oslund finished third to move Team Fresno into the team lead for the first time this season. Romak, starting from the outside front row, took the lead on lap five when polesitter Jeff Glen slowed with a deflating tire. Romak led the rest of the way to take the win. Peter Zarcades' second-place finish kept him in the points lead with 383. The ACRL is back in action August 30 at Vancouver.
PADDOCK BANDIT: Be advised that a bandit was been at work at several motorsports venues of late, including the Children's Grand Prix of Minnesota and at Heartland Park Topeka. Teams that leave their trailers unattended are the most likely to be hit. SCCA Pro Racing recommends that you lock up when you're away from your trailer.
TNN TV LISTINGS:
Trans-Am, Player's Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres 8/3, 3:30 p.m. (LIVE) (All Times Eastern)
Trans-Am, Serengeti Eyewear Trans-Am at Watkins Glen 8/10, 3:30 p.m. (One-day Delay)
Trans-Am, Texaco/Havoline 200 Weekend at Road America 8/16, 5:30 p.m. (Same Day Delay)
SPEEDVISION TV LISTINGS:
Trans-Am, Player's Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres 8/4, 9:00 p.m. (Replay) 8/5, 1:00 a.m.
Trans-Am, Serengeti Eyewear Trans-Am at Watkins Glen 8/15, 9:00 p.m. (Replay) 8/16, 1:00 a.m. 8/18, 1:00 p.m.
Trans-Am, Texaco/Havoline 200 Weekend at Road America 8/18, 9:00 p.m. (Replay) 8/19, 1:00 a.m. 8/22, 1:00 p.m. 8/25, 1:00 p.m.
World Challenge, Player's Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres 8/8, 9:00 p.m. 8/9, 1:00 a.m. 8/10, 2:00 p.m. 8/16, 10:00 p.m.; 8/17, 2:00 a.m.