Long Beach: Paul Gentilozzi preview

Gentilozzi looks for his fourth win in Johnson Controls 100 in Long Beach. Long Beach, Calif. -- Three-time Trans-Am champion Paul Gentilozzi is looking for his fourth win in the Johnson Controls 100 race in the Trans-Am Series for the...

Gentilozzi looks for his fourth win in Johnson Controls 100 in Long Beach.

Long Beach, Calif. -- Three-time Trans-Am champion Paul Gentilozzi is looking for his fourth win in the Johnson Controls 100 race in the Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich Tires Cup during the Toyota Long Beach Grand Prix weekend April 12-14. Gentilozzi, driver of the No.3 Johnson Controls Jaguar XKR, has the distinction of being the only driver to have won three Long Beach Trans-Am races driving three different marques.

Gentilozzi won in 1999 in a Ford Mustang, took the 1998 victory in a Chevy Camaro, and scored his first-ever career Trans-Am win in 1988 in an Oldsmobile Cutlass.

"Long Beach is unique," said Gentilozzi, who qualified on the pole last year, but first lap contact with Boris Said led to a broken nose frame mount, a pit stop, and a 23rd place finish. "It's our first race of the season, it carries a very high profile, it's tight, it's tense, and everyone is out of practice.

"This year, we'll add a mandatory pit stop, given the new rules," continued Gentilozzi. "That'll give us the opportunity to create havoc in a race that always delivers plenty of its own. It'll be a real gamble this year. You've got to time the pit stop right with a caution. You could be leading, but if the caution comes at the wrong time, you'll get caught. And we don't have the luxury of time to catch the field and then pass everyone to regain the lead. You can't fool around.

"Long Beach is the true street circuit," said Gentilozzi, who ranks first in all-time Trans-Am top-three (55), top-five (86), and top-ten finishes (114) as well as laps led (1,376), lead-lap finishes (112) and "Fast Five" qualifying starts (103). "This is the most prestigious street circuit in North America and the track has its own personality. You've got to feel comfortable to be fast. You've also got to be precise because it's an unforgiving circuit.

"I still miss the old Turn 7-8 complex which was always exciting," revealed Gentilozzi. "Passing has traditionally been tough here - braking was really the only alternative for passing. But the current Turn 7-8 combination added another potential passing zone.

"One thing I do know for sure," concluded Gentilozzi. "The fourth time's a charm and I intend to be back in Winner's Circle," said Gentilozzi.

-rsr-

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About this article
Series Trans-Am
Drivers Boris Said , Paul Gentilozzi