Torrential Rain, Lightning, Standing Water and Poor Visibility Cut Race Short ELKHART LAKE, Wis. (August 18, 2001) -- Michael Lewis ( ...
Torrential Rain, Lightning, Standing Water and Poor Visibility Cut Race Short
ELKHART LAKE, Wis. (August 18, 2001) -- Michael Lewis (#12 AmeriSuites Jaguar XKR) won the first Trans-Am race of his career in 62 starts through driving rain, splashing puddles, standing water and foggy windows during the Johnson Controls 100 at Road America. Six different drivers have won a race so far in the 2001 Trans-Am season.
The yellow flag went out following the completion of Lap 17 -- the last full lap scored. At Lap 18, the red flag was thrown as the rain continued to fall. More than a half hour later, the race was called. Lewis started second, moved into first place shortly after the green flag and led all 17 laps of the rain-shortened race. The race was originally scheduled for 25 laps on the 4.408-mile road course for 101.2 miles.
Every car rolled through the grid on racing slicks, but about half the field switched to rain tires before the race began. During the race, most of the remaining cars changed to rain tires.
"The car was running today like it was on rails," said Lewis. "I wasn't driving tremendously hard out there today. I just had a great car and I was trying to be conservative. It was like a river was running down the track. This time the weather worked for us. No one could have said that we didn't earn this one."
Lewis has performed well at Road America and considers the track one of his favorites. "There is so much history here. I was a fan of this track long before I became a driver," said Lewis. "As a kid, I watched the true art of road racing performed on this track by racing legends like Mark Donohue and Dan Gurney." Lewis' previous best at Road America was second place in 1999 in a Ford Mustang Cobra.
Johnny Miller (#64 AutomationDirect/Cutler-Hammer-Jaguar XKR) finished second after starting in third place. "I was careful and watching the other guys," Miller said. "I wanted to be here at the end. At one point, on the front straight, the windows got so foggy, we were almost totally blind. Michael Lewis drove a great race. We're happy with our finish. Considering the conditions, we'll take it and go home."
Miller battled Brian Simo (#88 Tommy Bahama Qvale Mangusta) through much of the race for second place. "It was tough battle throughout, but it was clean. It was fun," Said Miller. Simo went off course on Lap 16.
The current drivers' championship points leader and polesitter, Paul Gentilozzi (#3 Johnson Controls/HomeLink-Jaguar XKR), finished third. "I set the example early of where you can't go when I drove off at Turn 5 on the first lap. Then I made a couple more trips off the track," he said. "It was slick from the start."
Gentilozzi's third place finish broke a tie with three-time Trans-Am champion Tom Kendall for all-time top-three Trans-Am finishes with 54. Having won at Road America the past two years, Gentilozzi was disappointed he didn't win today, but said, "All streaks have to come to an end. We kept our points lead, we broke Kendall's record, the Rocketsports chassis finished in the top-three and this was the first 1-2-3 finish for the Jaguar. Not a bad day at the office."
Because of the slick conditions, numerous cars went off course at various locations around the race track and many did not finish the race.
Leighton Reese (#66 Banner Engineering Chevy Corvette) came in fourth, his best finish of the season. Boris Said (#33 Applied Computer Solutions-Panoz Esperante) rounds out the top five.
The next race is August 25 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio.