Cleveland: Said extends points lead with victory

CLEVELAND, Ohio (July 13, 2002) -- Boris Said of ACS Express Racing continued his early-season dominance of the 2002 Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich Tires Cup Saturday when he drove to his third victory of the campaign in the Trans-Am on the ...

CLEVELAND, Ohio (July 13, 2002) -- Boris Said of ACS Express Racing continued his early-season dominance of the 2002 Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich Tires Cup Saturday when he drove to his third victory of the campaign in the Trans-Am on the Tarmac Presented by Microchip at Burke Lakefront Airport.

Said (#33 Applied Computer Solutions Panoz Esperante) took the lead from Tony Ave (#53 Trilithic Panoz Esperante) on the 32nd of 48 laps and maintained it for the balance of the event, ultimately finishing 0.266 seconds ahead of Butch Leitzinger (#88 Tommy Bahama/Tom Gloy Chevrolet Corvette) in the fifth round of the championship. Said averaged 90.406 miles per hour while recording his fifth podium performance of the season, including victories at Mosport and Lime Rock.

Stu Hayner (#02 Trenton Forging/Tom Bell Chevrolet Corvette) rounded out the podium by finishing third, a season best.

Said's triumph gave him an unofficial 152-125 lead over three-time and defending Trans-Am Series champion Paul Gentilozzi (#3 Johnson Controls/Microchip/Futaba/MatrixOne Jaguar XKR). Gentilozzi, who is bidding to become the only driver other than Tom Kendall to win four Trans-Am Series driving championships, finished fourth Saturday.

Said positioned himself to take control of the race following a lightning-quick pit stop on Lap 12 under the race's first caution flag. He entered the pits in third place, behind Leitzinger, the pole-sitter, and Gentilozzi, but after a quick fuel splash, Said exited ahead of both of them and began his climb back to the front.

"It was a perfect weekend," noted Said, who also collected a $10,000 Owners Championship bonus from High Tech Performance Trailers, Inc. for leading the championship at the season's mid-point. "At Mid-Ohio [two weeks ago], we didn't have a good stop [Said finished third], but here, we had the best stop. After that, it was a riot getting back to the front.

"I'd like to thank High Tech for the [bonus] award," Said continued. "Ten thousand dollars is a lot of money for us, so thanks to them, and they make a great product. This is also a big race for BFGoodrich, whose corporate offices are located about 30 miles south of here, so we're happy to do so well in their backyard."

Leitzinger's runner-up result was his third consecutive podium finish, following third at Lime Rock and a victory at Mid-Ohio. He moved to third in the championship with 117 points, the same total as Johnny Miller (#64 Automation Direct/Eaton Cutler-Hammer Jaguar XKR), although Leitzinger holds the higher position based on his highest finish.

"Early in the weekend, it was tough to find your way around, because of such wide expanses and not many reference points," Leitzinger said of the 2.106-mile temporary course constructed on Burke's runways. "I tried to follow Boris around during one of the practice sessions, but he wasn't having any of it.

"But the team worked well and the car was beautiful. I felt bad because Boris beat me out of the pits, but I can't complain too much. It was a good result for the team, and after all, a podium [finish] is not too bad."

Hayner's podium finish was his first of the season and his second consecutive at Cleveland, following a runner-up performance to Gentilozzi last year.

"It was a lot of fun," Hayner said after a steady drive. "I kept hoping I could get to these guys [Said and Leitzinger] at the end, but I've raced with them many times before and they really don't make mistakes. The car was really, really good. I didn't have quite enough to run with these guys, but it was still a good day."

Justin Bell (#40 Allied Machine and Engineering/Xtreme Lens Corvette), the 2001 AmeriSuites Rookie of the Year, followed Gentilozzi's fourth-place finish by rounding out the top five. He logged his fourth top-eight finish in five races.

Ave captured the BFGoodrich Tires Take Control for leading a race-high 20 laps. He was headed for a possible podium result until getting tangled up with the crippled car driven by Paet Hidalgo on the 39th lap. Ave ultimately finished 12th.

The Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich Tires Cup continues with the Capital Trans-Am 100, on Saturday, July 20, at Robert F. Kennedy Stadium in Washington, D.C. The race will air live on CBS Sports, beginning at 2:30 p.m. ET.

Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich Tires Cup Points Standings Through Five Rounds (unofficial): Boris Said 152, Paul Gentilozzi 125, Butch Leitzinger 117, Johnny Miller 117, Tony Ave 90, Stuart Hayner 90, Michael Lewis 90, Randy Ruhlman 90, Justin Bell 89, Tomy Drissi 79.

-Trans-Am-

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About this article
Series Trans-Am
Drivers Butch Leitzinger , Boris Said , Tony Ave , Justin Bell , Tomy Drissi , Paul Gentilozzi , Johnny Miller , Randy Ruhlman , Stuart Hayner , Tom Kendall , Michael Lewis , Paet Hidalgo , Tom Gloy , Stu Hayner