Long Beach: Season opener race notes

Gentilozzi Earns Record Fifth Motorock Trans-Am Victory At Long Beach LONG BEACH, Calif. (April 18, 2004) -- Paul Gentilozzi continued his love affair with the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Sunday by winning his record fifth Motorock Trans-Am...

Gentilozzi Earns Record Fifth Motorock Trans-Am Victory At Long Beach

LONG BEACH, Calif. (April 18, 2004) -- Paul Gentilozzi continued his love affair with the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Sunday by winning his record fifth Motorock Trans-Am Series race at the famed temporary street circuit.

Driving the No. 3 Jaguar XKR, Gentilozzi started fourth and took the lead from polesitter and Rocketsports Racing teammate Tommy Kendall (No. 11 Jaguar XKR) in turn one on the first lap. Gentilozzi then benefited from Boris Said's bad luck in turn eight when the driver of the No. 33 Ford Mustang spun into a tire wall just after briefly taking the lead from Gentilozzi.

Gentilozzi then held off a hard-charging Greg Pickett (No. 6 Jaguar XKR) for the victory. Pickett, who started second to last due to a technical infraction in qualifying, made up 14 positions and battled Gentilozzi through the final lap to finish second, a record .233 of a second behind.

"This is a special place for me," said Gentilozzi, the only multiple-time Long Beach winner. "Boris raced me for awhile, then he backed off. Then I would race him and he'd back off. We were going back and forth, then at the end, as is always the case at Long Beach, something exciting happened Boris spun, and I just made it through the corner.

"Then, I thought I was home free," added Gentilozzi. "That late caution let Pickett get up behind me, and he had a really good car. On that last lap he raced me harder and maybe I backed off too much and he got up next to me. Then it was just typical Trans-Am, with rubbing and racing."

"We bought this car from Paul," said Pickett. "Paul had been telling me for years to make it easy on myself and buy one of his cars. I took his advice and it's really a solid piece. It is easy to drive. I have a great family to support me, a business that does well, and this is just a hoot. I couldn't be more thankful."

Said recovered from his late spin--caused by oil laid down on the track by a cracked oil pan in Kendall's Jaguar--to finish third. John Baucom (No. 86 Ford Mustang) recorded his best career finish of fourth, ahead of Michael Lewis in the No. 12 Jaguar XKR.

"We were having a great race with Paul," said Said. "We had a really fast car. We were just pacing the tires at the end. Paul got into some oil and I passed him. Then, unfortunately, I made a mistake in the oil, and he got by."

The 45-lap race ran in one hour, 13 minutes and 59.463 seconds at an average speed of 71.814 miles per hour. Gentilozzi led every lap and also set the fastest race lap of one minute, 23.082 seconds (85.275 mph). The race was slowed by two caution flags for 10 laps.

The race will air on a tape-delayed basis at 10 a.m. on Sunday, April 25 on Spike TV, during "Dangerous Curves."

Unofficially, Gentilozzi leads the championship standings going into the next race for the Motorock Trans-Am Series, scheduled for June 19 at Portland International Speedway in Portland, Ore.

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Series Trans-Am
Drivers Boris Said , Paul Gentilozzi , Greg Pickett , Michael Lewis , John Baucom , Tommy Kendall