Mid-Ohio: Eight drivers to make debut in round four

Eight drivers to make 2002 Trans-Am Series debuts in round 4 at Mid-Ohio. CLEARWATER, Fla. (June 18, 2002) -- Eight drivers will be making their season debuts when the 2002 Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich Tires Cup makes one of its...

Eight drivers to make 2002 Trans-Am Series debuts in round 4 at Mid-Ohio.

CLEARWATER, Fla. (June 18, 2002) -- Eight drivers will be making their season debuts when the 2002 Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich Tires Cup makes one of its traditional stops for Round 4, June 29 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Oh.

Three of those eight will be making the first-ever starts of their Trans-Am careers, including Mike Cronin Jr. (#9 Performance Nissan/Stewart Racing Products Chevrolet Corvette) of La Verne, Calif.; Kevin Nielson (#81 nNovation Learning Group/Simpler Tech Service Ford Mustang) of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada; and Paet Hidalgo (#99 ACS Express Ford Mustang Cobra) of Fallbrook, Calif.

A total of 27 entries have been received for the 45-lap, 101.61-mile event, and an additional one or two are possible prior to the green flag. The 27 entries already received are five more than the previous Trans-Am season high of 22 established at Mosport (Ont.) International Raceway last month.

A significant contributor to the increase in entries is the fact that the Mid-Ohio event is the first of three 2002 Trans-Am races that will be telecast nationally by CBS Sports. Airtime for the same-day, tape-delayed broadcast is 4 p.m. ET.

CBS will also televise Trans-Am events from Cleveland on July 13 (5 p.m. ET) and Washington, D.C. on July 20 (2:30 p.m. ET, live.)

"We are extremely enthused about the opportunity to show our product to a national television audience for the second consecutive season," said Trans-Am Series President Dennis Huth.

"Recent times have been tough for the motorsports industry across the board, but we're very gratified by the significant increase in the number of entries for our next stop at Mid-Ohio."

Joining Cronin, Nielson and Hidalgo in making their first Trans-Am appearances of 2002 will be a handful of drivers with previous Trans-Am Series experience: Dan Furey (#30 Power Technology Chevrolet Corvette) of Columbus, Oh.; John Schaller (#31 Central Power Distributors, Inc. Chevrolet Camaro); of Anoka, Minn.; Jack Willes (#48 Comer Racing Chevrolet Corvette) of Cornelius, N.C.; Tim Cowen (#75 Cowen Truck Line Ford Mustang) of Ashland, Oh.; and John Baucom (#86 Bullydog Technologies/Safequip Jaguar XKR) of Charlotte, N.C.

All five have previous Trans-Am experience, although Schaller, with only two career starts, still qualifies as a series rookie.

The Trans-Am Series, sanctioned by Englewood, Colorado-based Sports Car Club of America Pro Racing, is the longest-running road racing series in North America, entering its 37th year of competition in 2002. Defending and three-time series champion Paul Gentilozzi (#3 Johnson Controls/Microchip/MatrixOne/Futaba Jaguar XKR) is looking to claim his fourth title against a strong field of rivals including current championship leader Boris Said (#33 Applied Computer Solutions Panoz Esperante), Johnny Miller (#64 Automation Direct/Eaton/Cutler-Hammer Jaguar XKR), Michael Lewis (#12 AmeriSuites Jaguar XKR), 2001 AmeriSuites Rookie of the Year Justin Bell (#40 XtremeLens Chevrolet Corvette) and 2002 Rookie of the Year candidate Butch Leitzinger (#88 Tommy Bahama/Tom Gloy Chevrolet Corvette).

Said, winner of the past two Trans-Am events at Mosport (Ont.) and Lime Rock (Conn.) last month, holds a 94-74 lead over Miller entering the Mid-Ohio event. Gentilozzi, seeking a record-tying fourth Trans-Am driving championship, stands third with 73 points. Gentilozzi has driven to victory at Mid-Ohio in all three of his championship seasons -- 1998, '99 and last year.

In addition to its three air dates on CBS Sports, all other Trans-Am events are carried by SPEED Channel on either a live or tape-delayed basis. All Trans-Am drivers compete for the prestigious BFGoodrich Tires Cup, emblematic of the series driving championship.

-scca pro racing-

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Trans-Am
Drivers Butch Leitzinger , Boris Said , Justin Bell , Paul Gentilozzi , Johnny Miller , Michael Lewis , Tim Cowen , Jack Willes , Dan Furey , Paet Hidalgo , Mike Cronin , John Baucom , John Schaller , Tom Gloy