Long Beach: Mike Lewis preview

Mike Lewis ready and anxious to race at Long Beach Long Beach, CA. (April 10th, 2002): Mike Lewis and his Auto-Com crew are on a mission in 2002. They have made deals, engine and development packages with Rocketsports Racing, they have tested,...

Mike Lewis ready and anxious to race at Long Beach

Long Beach, CA. (April 10th, 2002): Mike Lewis and his Auto-Com crew are on a mission in 2002. They have made deals, engine and development packages with Rocketsports Racing, they have tested, and they have prepared their blue and white Jaguar. This coming weekend for the Johnson-Control 100 on the streets of Long Beach California it will be time to begin racing for real!

Lewis, driver of the Ameri-Suites Jaguar, and his team are anxious for the 2002 Trans-Am Series season to start so that they really see how well they prepared for the season and how they compare to the tough competitors in the series like Gentilozzi, Simo, Said, Bell, and Leitzinger. But that zeal must be met with caution.

"It is always important to get the season off to a good start," said Lewis. "But while you cannot win the Championship for the BF Goodrich Tires Cup on the first race, you can go a long way towards losing it!"

"Long Beach has been a feast or famine type of race for us," commented Mike Lewis. "We either wind up on the podium or nowhere!"

The Auto-Con team just got the new 2002 Jaguar bodywork a week ago and have worked hard to be able to present the car in it's new trim for the opener at Long Beach. Mike is planning a test day at Buttonwillow on Wednesday April 10th. The focus for the test will be to verify that the new body fits properly and to do some pit stop training for the crew.

"We need to make sure that there is nothing loose or improperly fitted," Lewis explained. "Since Long Beach isn't a track where the aero package is huge factor we will spend more time testing the aero package for Mosport (the next race of the season)."

Lewis' biggest concern going into the Long Beach event this coming weekend is pit stops and pit stop strategy. Wednesday the AutoCon crew will try different variations of stops to see if there are any advantages to also changing one or two tires during the mandated fuel stop. Lewis didn't state any special strategy for Long Beach, and if he does have one he just might not be willing to say at this time.

"We are fairly new to all of this," said Lewis. "I am a bit worried about having full scale yellow-flag stops where everyone cones in at the same time. The pits will be crowded and drivers will be anxious to gain as much track position as possible and there could be problems. Our crews don't have much experience with NASCAR type stops since last season we couldn't do any other work on the car during a fuel stop. We will all have to see how this works out."

When asked about the Long Beach layout Mike indicated that he liked it a lot and it flows well for a street circuit, saying, "All the tracks used by the CART cars are well laid out and have wide passing zones. The middle of the corners don't mean much here. This track is all about getting the car to point in and how soon you can get the power down on exit."

"The keys to driving well on this track are getting power down coming out of the hairpin because that leads onto the long main strait," Mike explained. "Braking into one and nine are critical because those are the best passing zones," he continued. "And you have to try to carry speed through turn 8 for the back strait.

"If your car isn't working well at Long Beach," Lewis concluded. "You are in for a long day. But if your car is working this place is a real blast to drive!"

-asr-

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Series Trans-Am