Contact: Ritch Hanna (317) 925-5803 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: HUFFAKER/QVALE MOTORSPORTS, TOMMY BAHAMA AND BRIAN SIMO STAY IN THE THICK OF THE CHAMPIONSHIP HUNT AT HOUSTON HOUSTON, Tex. (October 6, 2000) What had started as a picture-perfect ...
Contact: Ritch Hanna (317) 925-5803 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
HUFFAKER/QVALE MOTORSPORTS, TOMMY BAHAMA AND BRIAN SIMO STAY IN THE THICK OF THE CHAMPIONSHIP HUNT AT HOUSTON
HOUSTON, Tex. (October 6, 2000) What had started as a picture-perfect weekend turned rough in the early race laps at the Texaco/Havoline Grand Prix of Houston last weekend for Brian Simo and his Huffaker/Qvale Motorsports Tommy Bahama Qvale Mangusta. Though Simo had the pole, archrival Paul Gentilozzi made a diving pass attempt that caused the two cars to bang together. Simo was winged, and limped through the rest of the BFGoodrich Tries Trans-Am Series race with a slowly deflating right front tire as a result of the contact, which badly bent a wheel. Though he led most of the race, by the end, with barely seven pounds of pressure in the tire, he was unable to hold off his rivals. He crossed the finish line sixth.
The contact cost both Simo and Gentilozzi the race win, as it turned out. Gentilozzi, after banging with Simo, pitted to have his left front tire replaced, and stormed back through the field to take the checkered flag and seemingly the win. Gentilozzi was later penalized 25 seconds for having too m any crewmembers over the wall fixing the tire, and his penalty dropped him to sixth overall. When third-finishing Jack Willes was also penalized for passing Simo under a yellow (caution) flag, it returned Simo to fourth place in the final race standings. Instead of coming out of Houston with a 17-point deficit in the title chase, Simo emerged a mere four points behind Gentilozzi, with three races left.
"There is no quit in this team," said Joe Huffaker, vice president and technical director of Huffaker/Qvale Motorsports. "We were going to fight this out to the finish. We're very proud of Brian for bringing the car home as well as he did; not many people could have taken a car in that bad shape and wrung a fourth-place finish out of it. And we are also pleased that SCCA took appropriate action against certain competitors whom we felt had taken unfair advantage of the situation. It will certainly make the championship a lot more interesting in the last few races!"
Next up for the Trans-Am troops is the October 13-15 GlobalCenter Sports Car Championships Presented by Honda, at the famous Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey, CA where the Trans-Am has not competed since 1982. The broadcast of the Houston race is slated for Friday, October 13, at 8:00 pm Eastern Time.