Michael Lewis qualifies 4th for for Johnson Controls 100 at Long Beach. Long Beach, Ca. (April 13th, 2002): Track conditions were perfect as the Trans-Am Series competitors took to the Long Beach street track to qualify for Sunday's Johnson ...
Michael Lewis qualifies 4th for for Johnson Controls 100 at Long Beach.
Long Beach, Ca. (April 13th, 2002): Track conditions were perfect as the Trans-Am Series competitors took to the Long Beach street track to qualify for Sunday's Johnson Controls 100, and they were more than up to the task as the top four qualifiers bested the existing qualifying record. Michael Lewis eclipsed the existing track record in the process, but his time of 1:22.135 was only fast enough for fourth spot. Pole winner Paul Gentilozzi sizzled his Jaguar around the 1.97 mile street course in a record time of 1:21.571.
"We're a little disappointed," Lewis said after the session. "I was hoping to do better, and I would have liked to get one of the championship points (for being one of the top three qualifiers). And I really wanted that 3rd place starting position because it gives you good position through the first turn. But, I do feel safer because we are starting in the first two rows and that should keep us out the first lap madness."
"I think the top 6 to 8 cars were under last year's pole time," said Lewis' crew chief Dave Steele. "We were two seconds faster ourselves!"
Boris Said (Panoz Esperante) posted a time of 1:21.814 to fill out the front row, with series rookie driver Butch Leitzinger next with a 1:22.062 in his Corvette. Lou Gigliotti, the 2001 Long Beach race winner was fifth fastest with a time of 1:22.661.
A minor fuel feed problem, traced to a fuel float malfunction, was just enough to keep Lewis from challenging Gentilozzi for the pole, or at least it kept the AmeriSuites Jaguar out of the top three. The problem was easily fixed, but the optimum moment was lost. Steele indicated that the car was fine at the end of the session.
When asked about possible strategy for Sunday's race neither Lewis or Steele were willing to reveal any special plans. Both driver and crew chief indicated that the car isn't getting anywhere near the mileage of last year, and, even though a pit stop isn't mandatory, they don't expect anyone to be able to go the distance without stopping for fuel.
"I would like to say I have the optimum strategy," laughed Lewis. "But, we will see as the race goes along. We want to stop on a caution and might have to put in as much as 10 to 12 gallons of fuel so it most likely won't be a splash and go!"
Dave Steele concurred, saying, "The fuel window will depend on the number of cautions but it should be around 17 to 18 laps into the race. The new Sunoco spec fuel seems to burn more fuel."
Sunday's 100 mile Johnson Controls race takes the green flag at 3:45 p.m. Pacific Time here on the streets of Long Beach California.