Laguna Seca preview, season review

What: The BFGoodrich Tires Trans-Am Series enters Round 10 of its 35th season here as part of the GlobalCenter Sports Car Championships. This weekend's BFGoodrich Tires Trans-Am race, will be the 389th in Trans-Am Series history. Television: ...

What: The BFGoodrich Tires Trans-Am Series enters Round 10 of its 35th season here as part of the GlobalCenter Sports Car Championships. This weekend's BFGoodrich Tires Trans-Am race, will be the 389th in Trans-Am Series history.

Television: Sunday's race will be televised on a taped-delay basis by Speedvision on October 16 at 8:00 p.m.

Race Length: 45-laps of the 2.238-mile course for 100.71 miles.

Chris Neville (#84 Soenen Motorsports Ford Mustang) became the fifth winner of a BFGoodrich Tires Trans-Am Series race with his win in Houston. Neville joins Brian simo, Tomy Drissi, Paul gentilozzi and Leighton Reese.

Four marques (Qvale, Ford, Jaguar and Pontiac) have tasted victory in the first nine races of the 2000 BFGoodrich Tires Trans-Am Series. This total is one short of the All-Time trans-Am season record for racewinning marques of five, established in 1982. In 1982, five marques won: Chevrolet (Corvette), Ford (Mustang), Nissan (280ZX Turbo), Pontiac (Trans-Am) and Porsche (924 Carrera Turbo). Four marquest were victorious in four seasons. In 1967, 1981, 1984 and 1988. With winless-in-2000 Chevrolet very competitive in 2000 with both Camaro and Corvette entries and Randy Ruhlman a threat to win in an the #49 Preformed Line Products Oldsmobile Aurora, the 2000 season is well within reach of tying the All-Time record or setting a new record.

Paul Gentilozzi (#1 Johnson Controls HomeLink Jaguar XKR) set the 2000 TEXACO Havoline Grand Prix of Houston Fast Lap, his third of 2000. Gentilozzi now has 24 career Fast Laps, ranking him first All-Time ahead of Tom Kendall's 23. Twelve of Gentilozzi's Fast Laps have com on "Street or Temporary Circuits," ranking Gentilozzi first All-Time in such Fast Laps over Kendall's 11.

Houston marked the 2000 season's fourth "Street or Temporary Circuit" race, following Long Beach, Detroit and Cleveland. Tomy Drissi (#15 Drissi Advertising Ford Mustang Cobra) won at Long Beach, Paul Gentilozzi at Detroit and Cleveland, and now Chris Neville at Houston. The marque battle is tied at two wins apiece for ford's Mustang and Jaguar's XKR.

Two drivers achieved or tied career-best BFGoodrich Tires Trans-Am Series finishes in the 2000 TEXACO Havoline Grand Prix of Houston. Five drivers achieved or tied career-best Trans-Am "street or temporary circuit" finishes. Chris Neville (#84 Soenen Motorsports Ford Mustang) scored his second win. His previous best "street or temporary circuit" finish was third. Stu Hayner 's (#98 Trenton Forging Chevrolet Camaro) second-place finish tied his career-best "street or temporary circuit" finish, another second at Long Beach in 1998. G.J. Mennen's (#6 American Health Products Chevrolet Camaro) third-place finish equalled his 1999 Detroit and Houston finishes as both BFGoodrich Tires Trans-Am Series and "street or temporary circuit" career-best finishes. Mike Davis' (#11 Applied Computer Solutions Ford Mustang Cobra) 10th-place finish matched his 10th at Long Beach 2000 for career-best "street or temporary circuit" finish. Jerry Kinn's (#17 JDK Motorsports Chevrolet Corvette) 12th-place finish bettered his previous best "street or temporary circuit" finish of 22nd at Long Beach 2000.

New Zealand TraNZam competitors Grant Silvester (Sydenham's Race Team Ford Mustang) and Craig Baird (Alan Ferguson Racing Chevrolet Camaro) made their first BFGoodrich Tires Trans-Am Series appearance in the TEXACO Havoline Grand Prix of Houston. Silvester started 19th and finished 14th, one lap down. Baird started 13th but finished 20th, eight laps down. Baird brings over a decade of worldwide racing experience to his initial start in the BFGoodrich Tires Trans-Am Series. Baird has won championships in the Formula Ford 1600 (1989), Formula Pacific (1991, 1992, 1993), New Zealand Touring Car Series (1994, 1995, 1996, 1997) and New Zealand Trans-Am (2000). Silvester is a veteran of two seasons of New Zealand Trans-Am competition. He finished third in both the 1999 and 2000 Drivers' Championship. Silvester finished second on January 30 at Manfeild, to post his career-best finish. He has also posted eight third place finishes.

With six Fast Laps in the first nine 2000 BFGoodrich Tires Trans-Am Series races, Brian Simo (#88 Tommy Bahama Qvale Mangusta) can tie the record for total Fast Laps in a season if he sweeps the remaining three Fast Laps. A sweep of the three Fast Laps would give Simo nine for 2000, tying the all-time record of nine Fast Laps in a season set by Tom Kendall in 1997 and equalled by Paul Gentilozzi in 1998.

As part of the Road America weekend, the BFGoodrich Tires Trans-Am Series made a pair of dramatic announcements. Beginning in 2001, over $2.5 million will be up for grabs in purses and bonuses. In addition, the series also announced significant rules changes and unveiled its new body styles.

The Panoz/Sanchez Group and SCCA Pro Racing, Ltd., have announced the addition of the November 3-5 Grand Prix of San Diego to close out the BFGoodrich Tires Trans-Am Series. The event will serve as the 12th race on the schedule and will be competed over The Grand Prix of San Diego Circuit that will be set up at the former Naval Training Center, north of Lindbergh Field, providing a scenic waterfront backdrop. "We're excited to run at such a unique venue in a great city like San Diege," said John Clagett, BFGoodrich Tires Trans-Am Series Executive Director. "Trans-Am racing is rich in heritage in Southern California, and our first-ever race in San Diego is a perfect way to close out what has been a great 2000 season."

The Panoz/Sanchez Group Acquires Rights To The Trans-Am Series The Panoz/Sanchez Group and SCCA Pro Racing, Ltd. have completed an agreement to assign the rights for the Trans-Am Series and the Trans-Am trademark to the newly-formed Panoz/Sanchez Group (PSG). Under the 10-year renewable contract, the Panoz/Sanchez Group takes over management of the BFGoodrich Tires Trans-Am Series, including marketing, public relations and television packaging responsibilities as well as future venue negotiations, acquisition of additional series sponsorship and servicing current sponsors. SCCA Pro Racing will remain the sanctioning body for the BFGoodrich Tires Trans-Am Series, providing administrative, operations and technical functions.

Three new models have made their debut this season -- the Jaguar XKR, the Oldsmobile Aurora and the Qvale Qvale Mangusta. Driving the Jaguars are two-time and defending Drivers' Champion Paul Gentilozzi, along with rookie Jeff Altenburg. Randy Ruhlman pilots the new Aurora, and Brian Simo will be behind the wheel of the Qvale Mangusta. Also new this year are spec rear wings, designed to improve aerodynamics and downforce while allowing the cars to keep more of their street-car appearance.

Willy T. Ribbs returns to Trans-Am Series competition this season. Ribbs, 44, scored 17 wins and 28 podium finishes in 50 career Trans-Am starts from 1983 through 1989, tying him with Dorsey Schroeder for sixth on the all-time win list.

Simple Green "Clean Up" Award Worth $40,000 At Laguna Seca The BFGoodrich Tires Trans-Am Series' "Simple Green Clean-Up Award" is a $2,500 cash bonus that goes to a driver who "cleans-up" at any single race weekend by earning the pole position, posting the fastest race lap, leading the most laps and winning the race. The Simple Green Clean-Up Award accumulates from consecutive races without a "Clean-Up" winner, and is worth $15,000 to a driver who "cleans up" at Laguna Seca. As an added bonus, Simple Green has added an additional $15,000 bringing the total to $40,000. <pre> Statistical Updates (Active Drivers In Bold Caps) STARTS-DRIVERS - 1) PAUL GENTILOZZI 159; 2) Greg Pickett 153; 3) Jim Derhaag 150; 4) Les Lindley, Richard Valentine 122; 6) DONALD SAK 109; 7) RANDY RUHLMAN 100; 8) Ron Fellows 97; 9) Jerry Clinton 93; 10) Rick Dittman 92

WINS (ALL CLASSES)-DRIVERS - 1) Mark Donohue 29; 2) Tom Kendall 26; 3) Bob Tullius 21; 4) Peter Gregg 20; 5) Ron Fellows, PAUL GENTILOZZI 19; 7) WILLY T. RIBBS, Dorsey Schroeder 17

WINS-ENTRANTS - 1) Roush 69; 2) McCall 32; 3) Penske 31; 4) ROCKETSPORTS 30; 4) Group 44 29; 6) Gloy 27 FAST LAPS-DRIVERS - 1) PAUL GENTILOZZI 24; 2) Tom Kendall 23; 3) WILLY T. RIBBS, Dorsey Schroeder 20; 5) Mark Donohue 17; 6) George Follmer 16; 7) Darin Brassfield, Ron Fellows 15; 9) Greg Pickett 14; 10) Scott Pruett, BRIAN SIMO 13


TOP THREE "PODIUM" FINISHES-DRIVERS - 1) Tom Kendall 53; 2) Greg Pickett 47; 3) PAUL GENTILOZZI 46; 4) Mark Donohue, Dorsey Schroeder 43; 6) Ron Fellows 40

TOP FIVE FINISHES-DRIVERS - 1) PAUL GENTILOZZI 77; 2) Greg Pickett 74; 7) Mark Donohue, George Follmer 45; 9) BRIAN SIMO 43

TOP TEN FINISHES-DRIVERS - 1) Greg Pickett 107; 2) PAUL GENTILOZZI 104; 3) Jim Derhaag 90; 6) Scott Sharp 66; 7) BRIAN SIMO 65; 8) Dorsey Schroeder 63

2000 BFGoodrich Tires Trans-Am Series Statistics Wins-Drivers: Paul Gentilozzi, Brian Simo 3; Tomy Drissi, Chris Neville, Leighton Reese 1 Wins-Marques: Jaguar, Qvale 3; Ford 2; Pontiac 1 Wins-Racecars: Jaguar XKR, Qvale Mangusta 3; Ford Mustang Cobra 2; Pontiac Grand Prix 1 Wins-Entrants: Huffaker/Qvale, Rocketsports 3; Drissi, Reese, Soenen 1 Consecutive Wins: Paul Gentilozzi (Rocketsports Jaguar XKR) 3 (Detroit, Cleveland, Road America); Brian Simo (Huffaker/Qvale Qvale Mangusta) 2 (Sebring & Lowes) Fast Qualifiers-Drivers: Paul Gentilozzi 4; Brian Simo 3; John W. Miller IV 2 Fast Qualifiers-Marques: Jaguar 4; Qvale 3; Chevrolet 2 Fast Qualifiers-Racecars: Jaguar XKR 4; Qvale Mangusta 3; Chevrolet Corvette 2 Fast Qualifiers-Entrants: Rocketsports 4; Huffaker/Qvale 3; Miller Racing 2 Fast Laps-Drivers: Brian Simo 6; Paul Gentilozzi 3 Fast Laps-Marques: Qvale 6; Jaguar 3 Fast Laps-Racecars: Qvale Mangusta 6; Jaguar XKR 3 Fast Laps-Entrants: Huffaker/Qvale 6; Rocketsports 3 Fast Lap Streak-Drivers: Paul Gentilozzi 3 (1999 Sebring through 2000 Lowes); Brian Simo 6 (2000 Long Beach through Texas MS) Top Three "Podium" Finishes (13 drivers): Brian Simo 5; Jeff Altenburg, Paul Gentilozzi 4; Tomy Drissi, Johnny Miller, Chris Neville, Willy T. Ribbs 2; Tony Ave, Stu Hayner, G.J. Mennen, Leighton Reese, Bob Ruman, Jack Willes 1 Top Five Finishes (18 drivers): Brian Simo 6; Jeff Altenburg, Paul Gentilozzi 5; Tomy Drissi, Lou Gigliotti, Chris Neville, Leighton Reese 3; Stu Hayner, Michael Lewis, G.J. Mennen, Johnny Miller, Willy T. Ribbs, Jack Willes 2; Tony Ave, Claudio Burtin, Simon Gregg, Steve Pelke, Bob Ruman 1 Top Ten Finishes (30 drivers): Paul Gentilozzi, Brian Simo 7; Jeff Altenburg, Leighton Reese 6; Tomy Drissi, Lou Gigliotti, Bob Ruman 5; G.J. Mennen, Chris Neville, Randy Ruhlman, Jack Willes 4; Mike Davis, Simon Gregg, Stu Hayner, Michael Lewis, Johnny Miller, Willy T. Ribbs 3; Kerry Alexander, Bruce Qvale 2; Tony Ave, Bill Bentley, Claudio Burtin, Gary Johnson, Jerry Kinn, Jon Leavy, Don Meluzio, Ken Murillo, Steve Pelke, Donald Sak, Peter Shea 1

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Series Trans-Am
Drivers Scott Sharp , Ron Fellows , Scott Pruett , Brian Simo , Tony Ave , Tomy Drissi , Paul Gentilozzi , Leighton Reese , George Follmer , Johnny Miller , Randy Ruhlman , Steve Pelke , Dorsey Schroeder , Tom Kendall , Lou Gigliotti , Bob Ruman , Greg Pickett , Michael Lewis , Simon Gregg , Claudio Burtin , Willy T. Ribbs , Jack Willes , Jeff Altenburg , Darin Brassfield , G.J. Mennen , Jon Leavy , Richard Valentine , Bill Bentley , Craig Baird , Stu Hayner , Ken Murillo , Mike Davis , Peter Gregg , Mark Donohue , Jerry Kinn