Charlotte Race Story

CONCORD, N.C. (April 1) - Brian Simo, driving the No. 88 Tomy Bahama Qvale Mangusta, won his second BFGoodrich Tires Trans-Am Series race in as many events, claiming a 0.689-second margin of victory over Paul Gentilozzi at Lowe's Motor ...

CONCORD, N.C. (April 1) - Brian Simo, driving the No. 88 Tomy Bahama Qvale Mangusta, won his second BFGoodrich Tires Trans-Am Series race in as many events, claiming a 0.689-second margin of victory over Paul Gentilozzi at Lowe's Motor Speedway, with rookie Jack Willes, of Cornelius, N.C., scoring the final podium position. Simo, of Carlsbad, Calif., started the 44-lap, 99.0-mile race in second behind Gentilozzi, driving the No. 1 Johnson Controls/HomeLink Jaguar XKR. From the pole Gentilozzi led the first 11 laps, when a hard-charging Stu Hayner claimed the lead with a bold move after moving up from his fifth-place start. A lap 12 crash resulting from a spin by Jerry Simmons eliminated Jeff Altenburg and Michael Lewis, and brought out the first of three full-course cautions while spreading debris through the infield portion of the 2.25-mile, 10-turn oval/road course. When the race resumed five laps later, Gentilozzi was forced into the pits for two new tires, a victim of crash debris, and Hayner, in the No. 98 Trenton Forging Chevrolet Camaro, held the lead over Simo and Willes, who'd qualified his No. 48 TWC Motorsports Camaro third. "Under the yellow, I did a couple of burnouts and thought 'this car is not right' - we apparently had a slow leak," said Gentilozzi. "By that time we'd gone green and it (the tire) let go." After following in close pursuit, Simo passed Hayner for the top spot on at turn five on lap 27, and in spite of a late-race bid by Gentilozzi, held the lead to the checkered flag, scoring his 10th career victory and second-consecutive win of the season. "I never thought about winning until the last corner or two," said Simo. "I had the track position and I just wanted to hang onto it. You've got to expect the yellows, but you don't want them, especially when Paul's behind you." Behind Simo, John Paul Jr., who had advanced his No. 8 TWC Motorsports Chevrolet Corvette past Hayner to second after starting ninth, tangled with Hayner in the infield, putting both cars off course and ending Hayner's race with crash damage. With 10 laps remaining, Gentilozzi had advanced from 20th to third, and set his sights on second-place Willes, passing for second on lap 36 before the third caution of the day came out for Peter Shea, who was uninjured in a turn one crash. "This is a tough place to pass and we gave it our best shot under the circumstances," added Gentilozzi. We've still got a bunch of races to go and we' re not going to let it get us down. I want to add that Jack (Willes) drove a great race - I've never seen a rookie in this series do the kind of driving I saw today. I had to pull a trick out of the 'old guy bag' to get by him - the same move Hayner pulled on Simo and me. A four-lap shootout resulted as the field again took the green on lap 41, but Simo dominated the final laps, holding off all of Gentilozzi's attempts to the checkered flag, followed by Willes, Chris Neville, in the No. 84 Soenen Motorsports Ford Mustang Cobra, and Tomy Drissi, in the No. 15 Drissi Advertising Mustang Cobra. "I've been around road racing since before I can remember, and my father first brought me to this track when I was very young," said Willes. "I wasn't able to get through the chicane as quickly as Brian and Paul, and I was content to focus on scoring points. I came into this series as the Pro Spec Racer series champion, where you've got to be smooth to be quick, and that helped prepare me for Trans-Am Series racing."

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Series Trans-Am
Drivers Brian Simo , Tomy Drissi , Paul Gentilozzi , Jerry Simmons , Michael Lewis , Jack Willes , Jeff Altenburg , Stu Hayner , John Paul