Leitzinger charges to first win at Mid-Ohio

LEXINGTON, Ohio -- Pole sitter Butch Leitzinger survived a late race caution and fading brakes to capture the first Trans-Am Series victory of his career this afternoon in the Trans-Am Buckeye 100 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Leitzinger, who...

LEXINGTON, Ohio -- Pole sitter Butch Leitzinger survived a late race caution and fading brakes to capture the first Trans-Am Series victory of his career this afternoon in the Trans-Am Buckeye 100 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Leitzinger, who led 40 of 45 laps, seemed to have the 22-car field covered until a yellow flag bunched up the leaders, dropping him back into the clutches of the unpredictable duo of Paul Gentilozzi and Boris Said.

"The yellow wasn't a welcome sign," said Leitzinger. "I definitely didn't want to see it."

"I . . . showed my rookie stripes today," "I've been racing the prototypes so long that brakes aren't usually hot after a yellow flag. The brakes were fine up until the yellow, and as I was trying to keep my tires clean I boiled the brake fluid as I went into the first turn [after the restart]. From then on, I tried to pump the brakes up, but it still wasn't very good."

Although Gentilozzi and Said made several daring attempts to overhaul the leader in the closing laps, they were unable to squeeze by the resourceful Leitzinger.

"I really used up the car today," admitted runner-up Paul Gentilozzi, whose three race winning streak at Mid-Ohio came to an end after a paint-swapping, side-by-side duel with Said for second. "Once we got the late yellow, I knew that it was [going to be] every man for himself. After the restart, I knew the only way I'd get around Butch was to bump him and I wasn't going to do that. I was lucky to have [teammate] Johnny Miller back there to occupy Boris."

Said, who experienced a number of problems during this morning's practice, overcame a slow pit stop on lap 13 to bring his Panoz Esperante home in third. "We had a tiny pinhole in the oil line, we had a wheel fell off, and we had a little electrical glitch in the motor," Said explained rather nonchalantly after claiming his fourth podium finish of season. "But we got two of the three fixed for the race. And our race went pretty good for us. We started with a hard tire on the left rear and then we had a slow stop, so we had a lot of catching up to do.

"I was happy to see that yellow at the end, for once it was to my advantage. The last four laps were a riot. That's what Trans-Am racing is all about -- pushing and shoving. I think I had a faster car at the end, but that doesn't always mean that you're going to win because you still have to get by the people in front of you. And Paul was making some good moves and we were rubbing; it was a lot of fun."

By finishing third, Said maintained his Trans-Am Series point lead on the strength of two wins and two podiums in four races.

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Series Trans-Am
Drivers Butch Leitzinger , Boris Said , Paul Gentilozzi , Johnny Miller