Gentilozzi Drives Trans-Am Show Car from Back to Front To Grab Cleveland Win CLEVELAND (July 2, 2004) -- Paul Gentilozzi can thank his Rocketsports Racing crew's tireless efforts for him winning Friday's Trans-Am on the Tarmac Motorock Trans-Am...
Gentilozzi Drives Trans-Am Show Car from Back to Front To Grab Cleveland Win
CLEVELAND (July 2, 2004) -- Paul Gentilozzi can thank his Rocketsports Racing crew's tireless efforts for him winning Friday's Trans-Am on the Tarmac Motorock Trans-Am Series race at Cleveland. Gentilozzi, driving the No. 3 Jaguar R Performance XKR, started at the back due to being forced to start with a back-up car, and drove through the field to earn the victory.
Tomy Drissi (No. 5 Dodgeball--The Movie Jaguar XKR) and Jorge Diaz (No. 8 Puerto Rico Grand Prix Jaguar XKR) were second and third, respectively, both in Jaguar XKRs. Randy Ruhlman (No. 49 Preformed Line Products/Coyote Closures Chevrolet Corvette) and Joey Scarallo (No. 06 Toyo Tires/ROH Wheels/Autotrend Chevrolet Corvette) completed the top five.
Gentilozzi crashed his primary car in qualifying Thursday, forcing his Rocketsports Racing crew to travel to his East Lansing, Mich. shop to retrieve a display car, which had no engine or transmission and was used primarily for auto shows and press events. His crew spent all night preparing the car. Starting last, Gentilozzi drove through the field, taking the lead for good on lap 26 when leader Tommy Kendall (No. 11 Jaguar R Performance XKR) pitted with mechanical problems. Kendall 11th.
The victory was Gentilozzi's 27th in Trans-Am competition, moving him to second on the all-time Trans-Am win list, two victories behind the legendary Mark Donohue. It was also Gentilozzi's third victory this season, placing him first in the championship, ahead of Diaz.
"This car was my 1999 championship-winning Ford Mustang," said Gentilozzi. "We sold it to Tomy Drissi in 2000 and Tomy drove it in 2000 and 2001, then we parked it. Last year, we needed a show car for Jaguar so we bought it. It's been in car dealerships and shopping malls. Strangely enough, the car was here in Cleveland, but it went back to Lansing Wednesday night.
"Yesterday, when I wrecked my car, we had to go back and get it," added the three-time Trans-Am champion. "They got there at midnight last night, towed it back here, worked all night and into today and got us on the grid in a competitive car."
The runner-up effort was Drissi's second podium this season. Drissi also set a Cleveland record race lap of 1:13.794 at 102.740 miles per hour.
"I'm very happy with the finish," said Drissi. "I'm very happy with the team. I learned a lot today, and that is what I have to do. I've continued to learn from Paul and it is showing in my performance. My guys have also have given me awesome cars, they are fast."
Diaz was pleased with and his second consecutive podium finish at Cleveland, and his second podium this season. The 2003 Rookie of the Year sits second behind Gentilozzi in the title chase going into the next race.
"It's really an awesome track," said Diaz. "It's wide open and makes it easy to pass. This is one of the tracks we really know and I think our results today showed that."
Scarallo earned the VP Racing Fuels Hard Charger award for making up the most positions in the race. Kendall won the BFGoodrich Tires Hard Charger Award for leading the most laps, 25.
The race ran in one hour, six minutes and 48.312 seconds at an average speed of 90.791 miles per hour. The event was slowed once by the caution flag for seven laps. Highlights from the Trans-Am on the Tarmac will air Sunday, July 11 at 1:30 p.m. (EDT, PDT) on Spike's popular "Dangerous Curves" show.
The next race for the Motorock Trans-Am Series is scheduled for July 10, part of the Molson Indy Toronto weekend.