Lime Rock: Event preview

Said looks to stay atop point standings as Trans-Am Series visits Lime Rock for Mohegan Sun Grand Prix. CLEARWATER, Fla. (May 22, 2002) -- Boris Said did not wait long for vindication. Said ( ...

Said looks to stay atop point standings as Trans-Am Series visits Lime Rock for Mohegan Sun Grand Prix.

CLEARWATER, Fla. (May 22, 2002) -- Boris Said did not wait long for vindication.

Said (#33 Applied Computer Solutions Panoz Esperante) was a heartbreaking runner-up to Paul Gentilozzi in the season opener of the 2002 Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich Tires Cup on the streets of Long Beach, Calif. last month. Said had held the lead going into the final lap of that event, but it was Gentilozzi who emerged from a thrilling three-car duel with Said and Justin Bell to claim his 24th career Trans-Am victory, with Said finishing just scant seconds behind.

Said was thus a man with a mission when the series entered its second of 12 rounds last weekend at Mosport International Raceway. In a dominant performance, he and the Esperante throttled the field, as Said breezed to a 23.501-second victory over Johnny Miller. It marked the first Trans-Am victory ever for the Panoz, and it gave Said the lead in the chase for the BFGoodrich Tires Cup.

Now, Said looks to add to his advantage as the Trans-Am Series returns stateside for Round 3, the Mohegan Sun Presents the Lime Rock Park Grand Prix on Monday, May 27, at scenic Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Conn. (3 p.m. ET, live, SPEED Channel).

Said's 62 points give him an eight-point edge over Miller (54) in the championship chase, while defending and three-time series champion Gentilozzi stands third with 50 points. The Trans-Am Series will be making its first appearance at the 1.53-mile, seven-turn Lime Rock road course since 1999, when Brian Simo drove to victory from the pole position.

Miller (#64 Automation Direct/Eaton/Cutler Hammer Jaguar XKR) is off to a consistent start in his bid for his first Trans-Am Series championship, with back-to-back podium finishes of third at Long Beach and second at Mosport. His run of 14 consecutive top-10 finishes, dating to a victory at San Diego in the 2000 season finale, is the longest active streak of top-10 performances in the series.

Gentilozzi (#3 Johnson Controls/Microchip/MatrixOne/Futaba Jaguar XKR), meanwhile, will look to rebound from a tough weekend at Mosport that saw him drop out of contention for the victory early due to a broken spark plug.

He still managed a 10th-place finish and remains a strong candidate for a possible fourth driving championship, which would tie him with Tom Kendall for the most in Trans-Am Series history.

Gentilozzi will also be looking extend his Trans-Am Series records for starts (175), top-three finishes (56), top-five finishes (87), top-10 finishes (116) and fastest race laps (31). He stands third to Mark Donohue (29) and Kendall (26) in career Trans-Am race victories with 24 and second to Kendall (39) in career pole positions with 32.

Bell (#40 XtremeLens Chevrolet Corvette) stands fourth in the championship with 43 points. The 2001 AmeriSuites Rookie of the Year, he comes to Lime Rock off a podium finish of third at Mosport, his fifth podium result in the last seven events.

Lou Gigliotti (#28 LG Motorsports Chevrolet Corvette) and Randy Ruhlman (#49 Preformed Line Products Chevrolet Corvette) are tied for fifth in the championship with 41 points each. Gigliotti finished a season-best fourth at Mosport, while Ruhlman owns finishes of sixth at Long Beach and fifth at Mosport in his first two events of the 2002 campaign.

Gigliotti is the only driver on this weekend's entry list who owns a previous Trans-Am victory at Lime Rock. It came in 1998 and was the first victory of his seven-year Trans-Am Series career.

Although he is a rookie in the Trans-Am Series, Butch Leitzinger (Tommy Bahama Chevrolet Corvette), the pole-winner at Mosport, has been a consistent winner at Lime Rock in other racing series. All told, Leitzinger has collected seven victories at Lime Rock, in IMSA International Sedan (1991), NASCAR Grand National North (1994, '95 and '96), IMSA World Sports Car (1998) and GARRA Sports Racer (2000 and 2001) competition.

Other contenders for victory at Lime Rock include Michael Lewis (AmeriSuites Jaguar XKR), Tomy Drissi (Rocketsports Racing Jaguar XKR), Stu Hayner (Trenton Forging/Tom Bell Chevrolet Roackland STD Gear Chevrolet Corvette) and Tony Ave (Trilithic Panoz Esperante).

Following its visit to Lime Rock, the Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich Tires Cup continues with another tradition-laden event on Saturday, June 29 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio. The Mid-Ohio event will mark the first of three Trans-Am races to be nationally telecast by CBS Sports during the 2002 season. Airtime is 4 p.m. ET.

-scca pro racing-

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About this article
Series Trans-Am
Drivers Butch Leitzinger , Boris Said , Brian Simo , Tony Ave , Justin Bell , Tomy Drissi , Paul Gentilozzi , Johnny Miller , Randy Ruhlman , Lou Gigliotti , Michael Lewis , Stu Hayner
Teams LG Motorsports