DENVER (Aug. 9, 2004) -- The race for the 2004 Motorock Trans-Am Series Drivers' Championship heats up as the Series makes its fifth visit to Denver for the Cytomax Sport Drink 100, Round 8 of the 2004 championship, on Friday and Saturday, Aug.
DENVER (Aug. 9, 2004) -- The race for the 2004 Motorock Trans-Am Series Drivers' Championship heats up as the Series makes its fifth visit to Denver for the Cytomax Sport Drink 100, Round 8 of the 2004 championship, on Friday and Saturday, Aug. 13-14. While Jaguar is poised to win its second consecutive Manufacturers' Championship here and fourth overall, just nine points separate first through fourth in the Drivers' Championship. The race is part of the Centrix Grand Prix of Denver weekend.
A Jaguar XKR needs to finish third or better here to earn the British carmaker the manufacturers' title, which it previously won in 1978, 2001 and 2003.
While that title chase has widened, past Denver winner Tommy Kendall enters this year's race second in points, breathing down the neck of leader Paul Gentilozzi. A victory at Road America for the four-time Motorock Trans-Am Series champion moved him to just seven markers behind championship leader Gentilozzi. Kendall comes to Denver after earning his first victory in nearly seven years last weekend, marking the first win for Jaguar's production-based, fuel-injected AJ-V8 engine.
With a Denver win, Kendall Kendall will move into a tie with Gentilozzi for second on the all-time win list, just one victory away from Mark Donohue's record of 29 wins.
"The win at Road America was exciting, said Kendall, who drove from 13th on the grid at America's longest road course to earn the victory. "I knew the car was going to be fast, but I was quite surprised we got all the way to the front at Road America. Now, coming into a street course, we are really excited because the street courses are where this engine really comes into its own.
"We have a 100-pound weight break due to our engine setup, continued Kendall. "The hard braking zones at Denver will make that even more of advantage. We're going to be very competitive here.
Kendall is also the only driver to win three-straight Trans-Am titles, from 1995-1997. He also won the championship in 1990. His 11-race win streak in 1997 remains the longest in Series history. The streak also gave Kendall the most victories in one season, one more than Donohue. Kendall won here in a Chevrolet Beretta in 1990, although that race was run on a different circuit,
:Sitting just nine points back in third and fourth are Jorge Diaz, Jr. (No. 8 Puerto Rico Grand Prix Jaguar XKR) and Randy Ruhlman (No. 49 Preformed Line Products Chevrolet Corvette). Diaz finished third at Road America, while Ruhlman finished second after winning his the first pole of his Trans-Am career.
However, if Johnny Miller has anything to do with it, he'll be the one in the hunt for the win here. Miller, who drives the No. 64 Eaton Chevrolet Corvette, is seeking victory in his second of two planned races this year. Miller finished fifth in Road America after starting 16th due to an engine change.
"We finished fifth at Road America after driving through the field, said Miller, who finished third here last season en route to finishing second in the championship. "We were charging and would have been in the hunt for a podium there, but the race finished under the caution flag.
"We'll have a suite full of Eaton employees at Denver cheering us on," added Miller. "That will definitely be a boost for me.
"We're looking at Road America as a dress rehearsal," added Miller. "When we get to Denver, it will be show time."
The Series also welcomes Cytomax Sport Drink as title sponsor of the Denver race. 1978 Trans-Am Drivers' Champion Greg Pickett, who owns Cytomax, finished an impressive second in the season opener this year, just behind winner Gentilozzi. Pickett, who was fourth at Road America, is trying to become the first driver in Trans-Am history to win a race in each of four decades of competition.
"We're very excited to sponsor the Trans-Am race in Denver," said Pickett, who will also compete in the Cytomax Sport Drink 100. "The Denver market is extremely important to Cytomax. The added visibility and excitement that is part of the Trans-Am Series will certainly benefit the launch of our new ready-to-drink Cytomax Sport Drink."
The agreement is part of the launch of new ready-to-drink Cytomax Sport Drink in the Denver metropolitan area. Former Denver Broncos linebacker Bill Romanowski will make several appearances during the weekend, and will also be part of Pickett's pit crew at Denver. Romanowski, who counts Cytomax as his preferred sport drink, helped guide the Broncos to two Super Bowl titles in 1998 and 1999.
"This is an added bonus to my competing at Denver," added Pickett, driver of the No. 6 Cytomax Jaguar XKR. "We are seeking positive results both on and off the track here.
"We're also excited to welcome Bill Romanowski," continued Pickett. "Bill is a longtime friend to CytoSport, and is part of a long and illustrious list of elite athletes who choose Cytomax as part of their training regimen."
The Trans-Am Series has raced four times on the streets of Denver. Four-time Trans-Am champion Kendall won the inaugural event in 1990, while Irv Hoerr finished first the following year. After a 10-year hiatus, America's oldest continuously running road racing series returned to the streets for Denver to a brand-new circuit. Boris Said dominated that event, leading 59 of 61 laps en route to one of his eight 2002 victories, and the championship, his first in Trans-Am competition. Scott Pruett led every lap of last year's race en route to his third Trans-Am title.
The Cytomax Sport Drink 100 is scheduled for Friday and Saturday Aug. 13-14 at the 1.647-mile temporary street course around the Pepsi Center in downtown Denver. The Trans-Am race is scheduled to start at 4:15 p.m. MDT on Saturday. The Trans-Am Series is part of a full weekend of racing, which also includes the featured Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford, as well as the Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama, Formula BMW USA and Colorado Vintage Racing.
The race will be broadcast LIVE on HDNet, with tape-delayed highlights coverage on Spike TV's popular "Dangerous Curves" timeslot, Sunday, Aug. 22 at 10 a.m. (EDT, PDT).
The Motorock Trans-Am Series features closed-fendered, production-based, V-8-powered sports cars, competing on permanent road courses, and temporary street and airport circuits throughout North America. The Trans-Am Series is America's oldest continuously running road racing series and celebrates its 39th year of competition in 2004.
What: Cytomax Sport Drink 100, Round 8 of the 2004 Motorock Trans-Am Series Championship
When: Friday and Saturday Aug. 13-14, 2004
Race Day: Saturday, Aug. 14, at approximately 4:15 p.m. MDT
Distance: 61 Laps, 100.467 miles or 75 minutes time certain, whichever comes first
Where: The race will be run on a 1.647-mile, nine-turn temporary street circuit
Friday, Aug. 13, 2004
11:45 a.m. - 12:15 p.m. Trans-Am Practice
1:15 p.m. - 1:45 p.m. Trans-Am Drivers' Autograph Session (location TBA)
4:00 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. Trans-Am Qualifying
4:40 p.m. Trans-Am Post-Qualifying Press Conference
Saturday, Aug. 14, 2004
9:15 a.m. - 9:45 a.m. Trans-Am Final Practice
11:45 a.m. Motorsports Ministries Chapel Service (Drivers' Meeting Room)
4:00 p.m. Grid Trans-Am
4:15 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. Cytomax Sport Drink 100 Trans-Am Race (61 Laps/100.467 miles or 75 Minutes)
5:45 p.m. Trans-Am Post-Race Press Conference
The points race has tightened significantly coming into Denver. Paul Gentilozzi (No. 3 Jaguar R Performance XKR) comes into Denver with just a seven-point lead in the championship, ahead of Tommy Kendall (No. 11 Jaguar R Performance XKR). In fact, 10 points separate the top four in the title chase, with third- and fourth-placed Jorge Diaz, Jr. (No. 8 Puerto Rico Grand Prix Jaguar) and Randy Ruhlman (No. 49 Preformed Line Products Chevrolet Corvette) just nine markers behind.
Jaguar, the defending winner here, can clinch its fourth overall and second consecutive Manufacturers' Championship here with a third or better finish by a Jaguar XKR. Jaguar can also earn its seventh victory this season in eight races.
A second-consecutive win by a Jaguar here would make the British carmaker the winningest manufacturer here.
Only Tommy Kendall has a shot at a repeat Denver victory. Kendall won the 1990 race here, held on a different circuit. Interestingly, Kendall, who is driving the only car this year powered by Jaguar's production-based, fuel-injected AJ-V8 engine, last victory here came in a V6-engined Chevrolet Beretta. That year, the bulk of the field utilized V8 engines.
Chevrolet's Corvette can net its first Denver victory, as well as its first pole here.
A win by a Chevrolet Corvette here would also be the first for the marque since Aug. 4, 2002 at Trois-Rivières.
The Trans-Am Series makes its third appearance on the current Denver circuit in 2004.
Another Denver circuit served as a Trans-Am venue in 1990 and 1991. Beside Kendall's 1990 victory, Gentilozzi competed in both 1990 and 1991, retiring with mechanical problems in 1990 and placing 26th. He finished second and set fast lap in 1991. Randy Ruhlman finished 16th in 1990 and ninth in 1991. Interestingly, Ruhlman's team owner, Jim Derhaag, also competed on the old course, finishing 18th in 1990 and 10th in 1991.
Last year, Scott Pruett started on the pole after the field was set by practice times due to a rained-out qualifying session. Pruett led every lap of that race. Other active drivers in the top-ten in last year's race were: Johnny Miller (third) and Randy Ruhlman (10th).
Starting position is key here as three of the four winners (and two out of two winners on the current course) have started from the pole.
Drivers' Champions have celebrated often in Denver's victory circle. Of the four winners here, Tommy Kendall (1990), Boris Said (2002) and Scott Pruett (2003) have all gone on to net the drivers' title that same year.