GRAF TIGHTENS TRANS-AM POINTS RACE WITH CYTOMAX SPORT DRINK 100 VICTORY DENVER (Aug. 13, 2005) -- Klaus Graf drove a virtually flawless race Saturday to win the Cytomax Sport Drink 100 Trans-Am race at the CENTRIX Financial Grand Prix of Denver...
GRAF TIGHTENS TRANS-AM POINTS RACE WITH CYTOMAX SPORT DRINK 100 VICTORY
DENVER (Aug. 13, 2005) -- Klaus Graf drove a virtually flawless race Saturday to win the Cytomax Sport Drink 100 Trans-Am race at the CENTRIX Financial Grand Prix of Denver presented by PacifiCare. The German rookie led all 61 laps of the event in his No. 7 Jaguar R Performance XKR, and netted his second victory this season. In the process, Graf closed to within just one point of Drivers' Championship leader Randy Ruhlman (No. 49 Preformed Line Products Chevrolet Corvette). Ruhlman finished sixth.
Tomy Drissi came out of a race-long battle with team owner Paul Gentilozzi to finish second, marking his third podium this year in the No. 5 Four Brothers -- The Movie Jaguar XKR. Greg Pickett (No. 6 Cytomax Jaguar XKR) was third and earned his fourth consecutive podium this year. Gentilozzi had won the Jaguar Pole on Friday, set the fastest race lap, and finished fourth in the No. 1 Jaguar R Performance XKR, ahead of John Baucom (No. 86 MAP Quality Engineering/SoftwareToolbox.com Ford Mustang).
"It's easy to control a race, but it's very easy to make a mistake, too," said Graf. "Today was just perfect. I didn't made one mistake. I tried to keep my lead and control the race. I had very little time on the track before today, so it took me a while to get my rhythm.
"The championship has really tightened up," added Graf. "If this isn't good racing, I don't know what is. This is a great formula. The cars are so much fun to drive. I think we'll have a great battle going into the next two races."
Drissi battled back and forth with his team owner until Gentilozzi locked up his brakes late in the event and went into the runoff in turn four, allowing Drissi to take the runner-up slot.
"My car just kept getting faster," said Drissi. "I just kept concentrating on doing something better each lap. We had a great battle. A couple of times we got pretty close, but I was just setting my pace with Klaus. All of the sudden here comes Paul and Pickett. I had to start pushing it again. Paul came in really hard under braking on the back straight. He had some trouble, but he came back and finished fourth."
Pickett, who also sponsored the race through his Cytomax Sport Drink brand, said he hasn't seen this kind of championship battle in many years. Pickett sits third in the title chase, 12 markers behind Ruhlman.
"This was a fun race," said Pickett, who won the 1978 Trans-Am Drivers' Championship and made his Trans-Am debut in 1975. "These guys are starting to make this Cytomax Sport Drink 100 package a real success. This is a real part of our brand; it's growing because of our motorsports involvement. The TV package is great. These are some great auto races.
"You have a real championship chase here with the three of us within 12 points," added Pickett, who also won the VP Fuels Hard Charger Award for making up the most positions in the race. "Wow! That hasn't happened for a while. If you don't like this kind or racing out there, you don't like racing."
Paul Fix (No. 77 Stop Flex/Buca di Beppo/Hotel Monaco Ford Mustang) won the GT-1 Class, earning his third such honor this year. Guy Dreier (No. 13 Team Snappy Racing Chevrolet Monte Carlo) finished first in the GTA Class.
The race ran in one hour, 15 minutes and 32.247 seconds at an average speed of 80.286 miles per hour and was slowed once by the caution flag for one lap. The race will air on Saturday, Aug. 20 at 1 p.m. on SPEED Channel.
The next race for the Trans-Am Series, is scheduled for Aug. 19-21 at Road America. That race, Round 8 and the penultimate race of the 2005 Trans-Am Championship, is scheduled to start at 10:20 a.m. CDT on Sunday, Aug. 21.