CONCORD, NC (April 1, 2000) -- Stu Hayner, in the ...
CONCORD, NC (April 1, 2000) -- Stu Hayner, in the #98 Trenton Forging Camaro, and teammate Willy T. Ribbs, in the #16 Clover Enterprises Camaro, had a mixed weekend at the BFGoodrich Tires Trans-Am Series race at Lowe's Motor Speedway today. Hayner, after earning his first Fast Five qualifying spot of the season, took his car into the lead 12 laps into the 44-lap, 99-mile event, but finished the race parked against the guardrail after a broken tie rod forced him off the track. Ribbs, who qualified 11th, managed to take his misfiring car all the way up to fifth early in the race before an input shaft broke and left him, too, on the sidelines.
"Boy, what a roller coaster day," said Frank Cioppettini, owner and third driver on the Victoria Motorsports team. "Stu was great to watch; he really caught Brian Simo and Paul Gentilozzi (who went on to finish first and second) by surprise. It was a big thrill for this team to be leading the race, and is really a tribute to Stu and to the crew, that they could prepare a car capable of running up front. And Willy did a great job, considering the car just wasn't up to par this weekend. But to have both cars running in the top five with the level of competition we have in this series, I couldn't be happier."
"What can I say?" asked a disappointed Ribbs, who is still the winningest active driver in the Trans-Am, with 17 to his credit. "We were 17 mph down on the straight, but we were holding our own in the infield." Ribbs was picking his way through the field, up to tenth on the first lap, ninth by lap eight, and seventh by lap 12. After falling back to eighth briefly, he had worked his way up to fifth on the 19th lap when the car stopped.
"We had a good motor today," said Hayner. "I think I caught Brian and Paul sleeping. I proved you could make the inside pass in Turn One." Hayner led from lap 12 through lap 26. "Unfortunately, on the restart, I got a little loose and Brian got alongside me and made a clean pass to get back in the lead. I decided to follow him for a while, but John Paul was running very strong then, and he managed to come up alongside me. I knew he was going to try to make a pass, and he did, but then he bobbled. I got a great jump off the previous corner, and pulled up alongside him heading into Turn Three. Unfortunately, when he started to come back over and I backed out of it, it hooked the wheels on the cars, and it spun him out. Out felt badly about it; I certainly didn't try to hit him. But as it turned out, the contact broke a tie rod on my car, so I when I went to turn into the next corner, the car just went straight into the guardrail and got torn up pretty bad. That was the end of my race."
Victoria Motorsports is the only team in Trans-Am to be fielding two former race winners. They now move on to Long Beach, the third round of the 2000 BFGoodrich Tires Trans-Am series, on April 16.