Said enjoying Rocky Mountain high following fifth Trans-Am series victory of season on streets of Denver. DENVER, Colo. (September 1, 2002) -- Tradition-laden permanent road course or first-time temporary street circuit, it makes no difference...
Said enjoying Rocky Mountain high following fifth Trans-Am series victory of season on streets of Denver.
DENVER, Colo. (September 1, 2002) -- Tradition-laden permanent road course or first-time temporary street circuit, it makes no difference to Boris Said, as he demonstrated Sunday while winning the inaugural Shell Grand Prix of Denver Trans-Am 100.
The victory followed Said's August 17 triumph at storied Road America and was his series-leading fifth of the 2002 Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich Tires Cup season. Said finished 0.967 seconds ahead of Butch Leitzinger, and added nine points to his championship lead over three-time and defending Trans-Am Series champion Paul Gentilozzi in the process.
With three of 12 rounds remaining in the 2002 Trans-Am Series championship, Said (#33 Applied Computer Solutions Panoz Esperante) holds a 264-224 edge over Gentilozzi (#3 Johnson Controls/Microchip/Matrix One/Futaba Jaguar XKR) in the points race. Gentilozzi finished fourth Sunday. A maximum of 102 championship points is available in the season's final three events.
Leitzinger (#88 Tommy Bahama/Tom Gloy Chevrolet Corvette) remained third in the championship chase following his runner-up effort, but also closed ground on Gentilozzi. Leitzinger takes 217 points into Round 10, Oct. 6 on the streets of Miami, Fla.
Said, meanwhile, will be looking for his sixth triumph of the season at Miami. His five victories this year are the most since Gentilozzi won six races en route to the 1999 championship.
"[Team owner} Mike Davis has put together a championship-caliber team," Said commented following his victory. "We got a great motor from Joe Huffaker and a terrific crew that makes my job easy.
"Coming to a new street circuit like this, you never know what to expect," added Said, who averaged 78.433 miles per hour and led 57 of 61 laps en route to the checkered flag. "I think the people who designed this track did a great job. It's a course with a lot of character, and the track was in really good shape for our race after the CART [Championship Auto Racing Teams] cars raced on it."
Leitzinger's second-place performance was his sixth podium result in the past seven starts, including victories at Mid-Ohio, Washington, D.C. and Trois-Rivieres.
"As a driver, you're supposed to get out of the car when you place second and whimper and moan that this happened, or that happened and that's what kept you from winning," said Leitzinger, who has clinched the 2002 AmeriSuites Rookie of the Year Award. "But after this morning's warm-up, when I pedaled as fast as I could and still was only sixth, I'm very happy.
"The Tommy Bahama team changed virtually the entire setup of the car after the warm-up, and I couldn't believe how much better it was in the race," Leitzinger added. "The crew just did a great job. To be on the podium after the way things looked this morning makes it a great weekend. It wasn't a win, but it almost feels like it."
Stuart Hayner, too, triumphed over significant adversity to finish third, his second podium result of the season, joining third at Cleveland. On Saturday morning, Hayner (#02 Trenton Forging Chevrolet Corvette) had qualified on the provisional pole for Sunday's race, but a rules infraction resulted in one second being added to his qualifying time, which ultimately placed him sixth on the starting grid.
"It was a roller-coaster weekend -- emotions mostly," Hayner said. "It was tough to come here with such a great car and lose the pole, but it happened. Today, the car was good from the first lap to the last lap, minus about two laps in between. We're very happy with third."
Gentilozzi's fourth-place effort was followed by a fifth from Michael Lewis (AmeriSuites Jaguar XKR). Gentilozzi recorded his seventh top-five result in nine starts, and his sixth in his past seven outings. Lewis, meanwhile, put up his second top-five of the season, and his best result since fourth at Lime Rock on Memorial Day.
The Shell Grand Prix of Denver Trans-Am 100 will air via tape delay on SPEED Channel on Sunday, Sept. 8, at 2 p.m. ET.
Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich Tires Cup championship leaders (unofficial, following 9 of 12 events): Boris Said, 264; Paul Gentilozzi, 224; Butch Leitzinger, 217; Johnny Miller, 197; Stu Hayner, 181; Randy Ruhlman 175; Tony Ave, 158; Michael Lewis, 152; Tomy Drissi 149; Simon Gregg, 125.
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