Montreal: Season finale preview

ROOKIE KLAUS GRAF POISED TO MAKE HISTORY AS TRANS-AM SERIES MAKES MONTREAL DEBUT MONTREAL, Quebec (Aug. 23, 2005) -- It all comes down to this weekend for German rookie Klaus Graf as the Trans-Am Series makes its first visit to picturesque ...


MONTREAL, Quebec (Aug. 23, 2005) -- It all comes down to this weekend for German rookie Klaus Graf as the Trans-Am Series makes its first visit to picturesque Montreal and the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. Graf is leading one of the tightest points battles in Trans-Am history, as the Series prepares to put a fitting end to its 40th consecutive year of competition at the 2.747-mile permanent road course. This weekend's Trans-Am event, Round 9 and the season finale of the 2005 title chase, is scheduled for Friday and Saturday Aug. 26-27, and is part of the Molson Indy Montreal weekend.

With his victory last weekend at Road America, Graf (No. 7 Jaguar R Performance XKR) took a 12-point lead in the championship. In the process, he helped Jaguar clinch its fifth manufacturers' title and he won the Rookie of the Year championship, becoming the first German driver to do so. He needs only to finish third or better here this weekend to clinch his first Trans-Am Drivers' Championship. If that were to happen, Graf would become the first German Drivers' Champion in Trans-Am history and the first rookie to win the title since Dorsey Schroeder in 1989.

Randy Ruhlman, though, would like nothing better than to stop Graf's charge here. Ruhlman (No. 49 Preformed Line Products Chevrolet Corvette) sits second in points coming into Montreal. Thus far, Ruhlman has had his best season on record, winning two races and recording a second-place finish. Ruhlman does need some help in his quest for his first title this weekend. If he earns maximum points (winning the pole, winning the race, leading the most laps and setting the fastest race lap) and Graf finishes fourth or worse with no bonus points, Ruhlman will clinch the Drivers' Championship.

The dark horse in the field remains Greg Pickett. Pickett (No. 6 Cytomax/Muscle Milk Jaguar XKR) sits 21 points back in third. Should he earn maximum points this weekend, Graf must finish 12th or worse and earn no bonus points for the 1978 titleholder to earn his second Trans-Am title. Pickett, a 30-year veteran of Trans-Am competition, made Trans-Am history this year at Edmonton. By winning the Edmonton round, Pickett became the first driver in Trans-Am history to win a race in each of four decades of competition. Pickett finished third last week at Road America, and is looking for his sixth consecutive podium finish here. Interestingly, Pickett missed the Cleveland round due to a previously scheduled engagement.

Tomy Drissi is mathematically still in the points race in fourth, but his fate depends on Graf not starting the race. Drissi (No. 5 Transporter 2 -- The Movie Jaguar XKR) has been bitten by some back luck lately. However, the 1999 Trans-Am Rookie of the Year has earned three podium finishes this season, including two second-place efforts.

Paul Gentilozzi has returned to glory at the last race, finishing a close second at Road America. Though Gentilozzi (No. 1 Jaguar R Performance XKR) is out of the hunt for his fifth title, he did make history this year at Toronto. By winning his 30th career race, Gentilozzi moved out of a tie with the late Mark Donohue for first on the all-time Trans-Am win list.

Though he's had some difficulty at the last three races, third-year driver Joey Scarallo has had a break-out season in 2005. He's had two podium finishes, driving the No. 06 Cytomax/Toyo Tires Chevrolet Corvette, and he sits fifth in points. Scarallo joined a new team this year, led by short-track star and Trans-Am veteran Tony Ave.

Max Lagod has overcome overheating problems that sidelined him earlier this season and looks for good results here in the No. 83 Software/Hypermax Chevrolet Corvette, as does John Baucom in the No. 86 Ford Mustang, also sponsored by Software. Calgary, Alberta resident Hima Maher (No. 78 Centennial Motorsports of Calgary Chevrolet Corvette) hopes to put a strong finish to his rookie season. Club racing graduate Tim Cowen will also be in contention here, driving the No. 75 Cowen Truck Lines Ford Mustang.

Maher will be joined by fellow Canadian Moneca Kolvyn (No. 08 West Coast Hot Rods Chevrolet Monte Carlo). Kolvyn, from Delta, British Columbia, needs only to start the race and complete one lap to clinch this year's GT-1 Driver Development Program Championship. Her closest pursuer, Paul Fix, hopes to add to his string of three GT-1 victories this season in the No. 77 Stop Flex/Computer Systems Centre/Pennzoil Ford Mustang.

Canadians Tor Krueger (No. 14 Stoney Creek Mould Chevrolet Monte Carlo) and Gord Vipond (No. 61 Centennial College Chevrolet Camaro) will also compete in the GT-1 Class here, as will 2003 GT-1 titleholder Jeff Emery (No. 15 Sirius Satellite Radio Chevrolet Monte Carlo).

The GT-1 Driver Development Program features Trans-Am-specification cars, but is reserved for up-and-coming teams from SCCA Club Racing's GT-1 division. The GT-1 Class winner is honored at each race this season, and features its own championship.

Round 9 of the 2005 Trans-Am Championship at the Molson Indy Montreal is scheduled for Friday, and Saturday Aug. 26-27, 2005. Saturday's race, which starts at 4 p.m. EDT, will air Sunday, Sept. 18 at 1 p.m. EDT on SPEED Channel.

The Trans-Am Series features closed-fendered, production-based, V-8-powered sports cars, competing on permanent road courses, and temporary street and airport circuits throughout North America. The Trans-Am Series is Americais oldest continuously running road racing series and celebrates its 40th consecutive year of competition in 2005

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Series Trans-Am
Drivers Klaus Graf , Paul Fix , Tony Ave , Tomy Drissi , Paul Gentilozzi , Randy Ruhlman , Gilles Villeneuve , Max Lagod , Greg Pickett , Tim Cowen , Jeff Emery , Moneca Kolvyn , Hima Maher , Mark Donohue