Long Beach: Post-race notebook

Post-Race Notebook from Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach LONG BEACH, Calif. (April 18, 2004) -- Along with Paul Gentilozzi's record fifth victory in round one of the Motorock Trans-Am Series championship, Sunday at the Toyota Grand Prix of ...

Post-Race Notebook from Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach

LONG BEACH, Calif. (April 18, 2004) -- Along with Paul Gentilozzi's record fifth victory in round one of the Motorock Trans-Am Series championship, Sunday at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, he continued his reign as the only wire-to-wire victor here. Gentilozzi led every lap en route to his 1998 victory, as well.

* Tommy Kendall had a busy return to Trans-Am competition over the weekend. Kendall, along with his driving duties in the No. 7 Jaguar R Performance XKR, also manned the broadcast booth for the Champ Car World Series race.

* Jorge Diaz, Jr. (No. 8 Puerto Rico Grand Prix Jaguar XKR) dedicating the Long Beach race, as well as his entire season, to his sister Monique, who recently was informed cancer she was diagnosed with three months ago is in remission.

"There are some things in this world that really change your life," said Diaz, Jr. "Monique really showed me how hard someone can fight, and gave me better perspective on my life. This season is dedicated to her."

Monique Diaz, who is still undergoing chemotherapy, attended Sunday's race.

* Sunday's race marked the implementation of the Trans-Am GT-1 Driver Development Program. The Program recognizes the highest-finishing of the lesser-funded, club-racing-based GT-1 competitors at each Trans-Am event during winner's circle festivities. The top-finishing GT-1 driver will also be invited to take part in post-race media interviews, and, when possible, will participate in television interviews. The highest-finishing GT-1 competitor in final Trans-Am points will also be named the GT-1 Champion, and free entries will go to the winner of the GT-1 class at the June Sprints and the SCCA Runoffs.

* Drivers Ross Murray (No. 01 Greenberg Cheese Company Dodge Viper) and Vincent Ashton (No. 9 Ashton Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro) were entered as GT-1 competitors here.

* Sunday's race marked a return to competition by a Dodge Viper as Murray finished 16th after being involved in a first-lap tangle in the No. 01 Greenberg Cheese Company-backed machine. The Viper last competed in Trans-Am competition in the 2001 season finale at Houston with Tommy Archer behind the wheel. Interestingly, Murray is driving the very same car Archer drove that year to a fourth-place finish in the championship.

* Rookie Edison Lluch entered this weekend's race just this week. He had competed at a regional event at Carolina Motorsports Park in Kershaw, S.C. last weekend, and decided to make the trip to the West Coast. Lluch, had to completely rebody his No. 72 Don Q Rum/El Tuque Chevrolet Corvette this weekend after a crash in at Kershaw. He finished 14th here.

* Saturday's Trans-Am qualifying session was shortened to 30 minutes due to inclement weather. Instead of the usual two-group format, all cars qualified at the same time in one group. Teams were allowed to use either rain or slick tires during the session. Pole-winner Kendall turned in his pole-winning speed on the very final lap of the session on rain tires.

* Several drivers and teams took part in the Tecate Thursday Thunder on Pine Event in downtown Long Beach. Among the cars displayed was the No. 11 Jaguar R Performance XKR of Trans-Am's only four-time champion Tommy Kendall, who is returning to the driver's seat this season after retiring in 1997. The No. 86 MAP Quality Engineering Ford Mustang of John Baucom and the No. 06 ROH Wheels/Toyo Tires Chevrolet Corvette driven by sophomore driver Joey Scarallo were also be displayed. Several drivers also took part in an autograph session.

* Garrett Kletjian, who made his Trans-Am debut last season in the No. 20 UNICCO Chevrolet Corvette, was spotted in the paddock over the weekend, though he wasn't entered in Sunday's race. Kletjian is in the process of purchasing a new chassis and plans to compete in the balance of this year's events, beginning at Portland International Raceway June 19. Kletjian is from Hingham, Mass., just outside of Boston.

* BFGoodrich Tires brought 500 g-Force T/A radial race tires to Long Beach this weekend, including 30, 75 (hard) compound fronts; 30, 75 (hard) compound rears; 170, 200 (medium) compound fronts; 170, 200 (medium) compound rears; 50 front wets; and 50 rear wets.

* Joey Scarallo returned to the Trans-Am Series here in his familiar No. 06 Chevrolet Corvette, with a new team and new backing. Scarallo has signed with Baucom Motorsports this season and will run as part of a two-car team with 2003 BBS Most Improved Driver John Baucom (No. 86 MAP Quality Engineering Ford Mustang). Scarallo will receive primary sponsorship from Toyo Tires, while other backing will continue to come from ROH Wheels.

* Meanwhile, Baucom re-skinned the chassis of his machine in the off season from a Jaguar XKR to a Ford Mustang. Baucom plans to begin development on a new Ford overhead-valve, fuel-injected engine this season with hopes of unveiling it in race trim at the season finale, Oct. 10, in Puerto Rico. The engine will resemble the one Rocketsports Racing developed for Jaguar last season. That engine is the motivation behind the No. 11 Jaguar R Performance machine of Tommy Kendall.

-trans am-

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Series Trans-Am
Drivers Ross Murray , John Baucom , Vincent Ashton , Garrett Kletjian , Edison Lluch , Tommy Kendall , Jorge Diaz