GENTILOZZI WINS WITH FLAG-TO-FLAG PERFORMANCE ON THE STREETS OF MINNEAPOLIS MINNEAPOLIS, Minn (June 28, 1998) -- In a dominating performance, Paul Gentilozzi led flag-to-flag to score his eighth career NTB Trans-Am victory on the streets of ...
GENTILOZZI WINS WITH FLAG-TO-FLAG PERFORMANCE ON THE STREETS OF MINNEAPOLIS
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn (June 28, 1998) -- In a dominating performance, Paul Gentilozzi led flag-to-flag to score his eighth career NTB Trans-Am victory on the streets of Minneapolis, part of the Sprint PCS Grand Prix of Minnesota, a benefit weekend for the Children's Hospital of Minneapolis.
Gentilozzi, driving the No. 3 AutoLink Chevrolet Corvette, started on the pole, led every lap and posted the race's fast lap en route to his fifth win of the year, topping runner-up John Miller IV and Michael Lewis in third as the 63-lap, 100.8-mile race finished under caution.
"This is a great city with a great race for a great cause, and I had a great race car," said Gentilozzi. "But it wasn't an easy win -- all the aspects of the car just came together. We made some changes that Mark Strickland (team manager) wanted to try last night and they were exactly right. It was a combination when the chassis, the engine, and the rest of the set-up just coming together perfectly. I had great hook-up off the corners and wonderful throttle response, and I could pull away and be conservative on my entries (to the corners) and pull away on the exit -- that allowed me to put distance between me and the next car, and I could be more conservative under braking."
From the start the battle of the race was for the final podium spot as Brian Simo, Max Lagod and Lewis alternately held the position. Simo, in the No. 2 Valvoline Ford Mustang Cobra, was the first to fall out of contention when he hit the turn six tire wall, putting Lagod, in the No. 83 HyperMax Chevrolet Camaro, into third and bringing out the first of two full-course cautions, both for oil and debris.
As Gentilozzi and third-quick qualifier Miller IV, in the No. 64 PLC Direct Camaro, drove comfortably in first and second, Lagod dropped out of the race with mechanical troubles on lap 22, handing third to eighth-place qualifier Lewis, in the No. 12 Red Line Oil Mustang Cobra.
"The race really came to me," said Miller IV. "I had a little problem around lap 25 or so when we broke a header and were down on power, but I still had plenty of car left. I didn't have any radio communications so I just got into a rhythm and I didn't look in my mirrors."
For the remainder of the contest the top-three order remained unchanged despite strong bids by a resurgent Simo and a hard charge by Bruce Qvale, in the No. 44 Huffaker/Qvale Motorsorts Mustang Cobra. Qvale, who started 24th, was up to fourth by lap 45 but was forced to retire two laps later with a broken axle. Simo, meanwhile, recovered from his early incident to duel with Bill Saunders in the late going, and although his car had significant front-end body damage he managed a fifth-place finish, earning the DynoMax Turn On The Power Award.
Oil and debris brought out a lap-59 full-course yellow that caused the race to finish under caution, and Saunders, in the No. 8 AutoLink Corvette, finished fourth after starting ninth, followed by Simo, Bob Ruman, Chris Neville, Bruce Barkelew, Ross Thompson and Frank Cioppettini.
"I hate we couldn't go green at the end because it might well have made a difference for another podium finish, but we'll settle for fourth," said Saunders.
After six races Gentilozzi leads the NTB Trans-Am Drivers' Championship standings with 190 points, followed by Miller IV, 144; Simo, 119; Neville, 116; Saunders, 112; Thompson, 108; Qvale, 106; Lou Gigliotti, 78; Randy Ruhlman, 76; and Leighton Reese, 75.