Miami -- After finishing on the podium at both Long Beach and Detroit, Willy T. Ribbs ( ...
Miami -- After finishing on the podium at both Long Beach and Detroit, Willy T. Ribbs (#16 Simple Green Chevrolet Camaro) holds a narrow three point lead, 53 to 50, over Brian Simo (#88 Tommy Bahama Mangusta Qvale) as the BFGoodrich Tires Trans-Am Series heads into the final round of the Johnson Controls Triple Challenge this weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The third round of the Triple Challenge, the Johnson Controls 100, will be run as part of the Grand Prix of Las Vegas on October 29 at 6:15 p.m.
Ribbs finished second to Tomy Drissi (#15 Drissi Advertising Ford Mustang Cobra) in the initial Johnson Controls 100 at Long Beach on April 16. Ribbs finished third in the second round on June 17 in Detroit behind Paul Gentilozzi (#1 Johnson Controls HomeLink Jaguar XKR) and Simo to take the lead in the Triple Challenge. Gentilozzi ranks third in the Triple Challenge standings with 49 points.
The Johnson Controls Triple Challenge will pay a guaranteed bonus payout of $27,500. The three Johnson Controls 100 races comprise the Johnson Controls Triple Challenge, which pays $20,000 to the driver who totals the most Drivers' points over the three Triple Challenge races, and a bonus of three Drivers' Championship points, a bonus that could decide the Championship title. The second-place Triple Challenge finisher will receive a $5,000 cash bonus with the third place driver receiving a $2,500 prize.
This weekend's Johnson Controls 100 is Round 11 of the 12-Race BFGoodrich Tires Trans-Am Series. Gentilozzi holds a 30-point lead over Simo in the Drivers' Championship points total, 248 to 218.
"To win the Johnson Controls Triple Challenge would be awesome," said Ribbs. "This is really the only title that I have a chance of achieving this season. I have been in the right place at the right time in the first two Johnson Controls 100's and the car was reasonably strong. But Simo and Gentilozzi are going to be all over me this weekend and the last round of the Triple Challenge will not be a piece of cake. I have my work cut out for me."
What: The BFGoodrich Tires Trans-Am Series enters Round 11 of its 35th season here as part of the Grand Prix of Las Vegas. This weekend's BFGoodrich Tires Trans-Am race, the Johnson Controls 100, will be the 390th in Trans-Am Series history.
Television: Sunday's race will be televised live by Speedvision. An encore presentation will be aired by Fox Sports Net on November 3 at 12:00 p.m.
Race Length: 40-laps of the 2.52-mile course for 100.80 miles.
Following the Fast Five press conference on Saturday afternoon, there will be a special press conference announcing an exciting new team joining the series in 2001.
Rookie Jeff Altenburg (#5 Steele Enterprises, Inc., Jaguar XKR) holds a commanding 67 point lead over Mike Davis (#11 Applied Computer Solutions Ford Mustang Cobra), 168 to 101, in the Red Line Oil Rookie-of-the-Year standings. Altenburg needs to finish just one point ahead of Davis to clinch the title.
Chevrolet has clinched the 2000 Manufacturers' Championship with another consistent effort at Laguna Seca. Five of the top seven finishers at the BFGoodrich Tires Trans-Am Series 100 drove Chevrolets. Winner Kenny Wilden (#40 YO Ranch Chevrolet Camaro) was followed by Stu Hayner (#98 Trenton Forging Chevrolet Camaro) in fourth, Johnny Miller (#64 Automationdirect.com UPS Hitachi Chevrolet Corvette) in fifth, Lou Gigliotti (#28 LG Motorsports G2 Performance Parts Chevrolet Corvette) in sixth and Willy T. Ribbs (#16 Simple Green Chevrolet Camaro).
Kenny Wilden (#40 YO Ranch Chevrolet Camaro) became the sixth winner of the 2000 season with his win at Laguna Seca. Wilden joins Brian Simo, Tomy Drissi, Paul Gentilozzi, Leighton Reese and Chris Neville.
With his win at Laguna Seca, Kenny Wilden earned the Simple Green "Clean Up" Award of $40,000 for earning the pole position, posting the fastest race lap, leading the most laps and winning the race.
Five marques (Qvale, Ford, Jaguar, Pontiac and Chevrolet) have tasted victory in the first nine races of the 2000 BFGoodrich Tires Trans-Am Series. This total ties 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).
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 come 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.
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.
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 Diego," 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 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.