Mosport: Race report

BOWMANVILLE, Ontario -- Scott Pruett continued his run of perfection at Mosport International Raceway as he won Sunday's Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich® Tires Cup race at the 2.459-mile, 10-turn permanent road course.Pruett has won in all...

BOWMANVILLE, Ontario -- Scott Pruett continued his run of perfection at Mosport International Raceway as he won Sunday's Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich® Tires Cup race at the 2.459-mile, 10-turn permanent road course.Pruett has won in all three of his Trans-Am Series starts (1986, '87, '94) and also won an SCCA World Challenge Endurance race, driving for Saleen in 1987.

Pruett, in the No. 7 Jaguar R Performance XKR, finished .977 seconds ahead of Michael Lewis (No. 12 Trans-Am Tools by ProQuest Jaguar XKR). Johnny Miller (No. 64 Eaton Cutler-Hammer Jaguar XKR), Randy Ruhlman (No. 49 Preformed Line Products/Coyote Closures Chevolet Corvette) and rookie Jorge Diaz, Jr. (No. 8 Puerto Rico Grand Prix Jaguar XKR) completed the top five.

Pruett won the BFGoodrich® Tires Take Control Award for leading the most laps and earned a $4,000 bonus from Flowmaster for winning the "American Thunder Challenge," given to the driver who wins the pole, leads the most laps, sets the fastest race lap and wins the race. The award, normally worth $2,000, rolled over as no one was able to claim it at Long Beach.

"It's been a good weekend for us up here," said Pruett, who led all 41 laps of the race from the pole. "In the closing stages, I saw the guys behind me and you could see oil on the track. It was difficult because you want to keep them behind you, but at the same time you don't want to end up in the weeds. It was a fine balance there in the closing stages. "It was not an easy drive," added Pruett. "They are never easy drives."

Lewis rebounded from early contact with Paul Gentilozzi to finish second. Interestingly, Lewis' car was the only one in the field utilizing fuel injection. Lewis just held off a charging Miller on the frontstrech to notch the runner-up slot.

"The car was pretty good at the end of the race," said Lewis of his best career Mosport finish and his best finish this season. "When the oil came out, it was kind of nice to be in second because I had a half-a-second warning as Scott drove through it.

"Scott was just fantastic," he added. "We had a fourth or fifth-place car and we finished second. We feel really good about this."

Miller's third-place finish was his third-straight podium finish this season. Miller finished third at the season opener in St. Petersburg and second at Round 2 in Long Beach.

Miller pitted on lap 29 under the race's only caution to clear of the grill on his car, fought his way back through the field and battled overheating problems to finish third.

"We had a really good car," said Miller. "We were trying to run hard with Scott at the beginning and we just got a bunch of debris in the grill. We didn't want to hurt it. I had to fend off Stu (Hayner) several times, and I'd tuck behind Scott and it would start overheating. When the caution flag came out, we thought it would cool off and it didn't. We came in, cleared the grill and finished third."

The race was slowed one time by a caution flag from laps 27-30 after Bobby Sak's car suffered a differential failure near turn five. The race ran in 59 minutes and 43 seconds at and average speed of 101.299 miles per hour.

Unofficially, Pruett leads the Drivers' Championship, ahead of Miller, rookie Jorge Diaz, Jr., Lewis and Gentilozzi.

The next race for the Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich® Tires Cup, Round 4 of the 2003 championship, is scheduled for May 26, part of the Mohegan Sun Presents Lime Rock Grand Prix at Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Conn.

Notebook:

With his victory in Sunday's Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich® Tires Cup race at Mosport International Raceway, Scott Pruett remained undefeated at the 2.459-mile, 10-turn road course.

Pruett has won in all three of his previous Trans-Am Series starts (1986, '87, '94) and also won an SCCA World Challenge Endurance race, driving for Saleen in 1987. Two of Pruett's Trans-Am Series victories came during his championship seasons in 1987 and 1994.

* Sunday's race marked the Series' first visit this season to a permanent road course. Pruett said car setup changes significantly from what is done to prepare for a temporary street course.

"The basic setup changes because the turns are typically faster," said Pruett of the 2.459-mile, 10-turn road course. "The track will normally have more grip. You're going to look for a little stiffer, more responsive car. At a street course, you're looking for a soft setup. You're just looking for grip. At a permanent circuit, you're looking for support, because you talk about some pretty fast turns. You want different things out of your car than you would on a street circuit."

* By winning the pole for Sunday's Trans-Am Series race at Mosport, Pruett tied the pole record held by the late Mark Donohue.

* Jerry Simmons, driver of the No. 76 Westward Tools Ford Mustang, made his final Trans-Am Series start Sunday at Mosport and celebrated his 19-year career in the Series prior to the green flag. Simmons, who qualified 15th, took the warm-up lap from the pole to celebrate his final start.

"It's been a wonderful career" said Simmons, who started the warm-up lap in position one, then fell back to his original starting position. "I never set out to do this as a career. I do it because of the love of the sport. And I've enjoyed every minute. I'm a little sad about leaving, but I'm not finished racing. Though, I plan to be more of weekend racer now. I plan to go back into amateur racing in a number of different series that require less commitment.

"I'd like to thank the rest of the guys for letting me start from the pole," added Simmons, who made his 91st Series start Sunday. "It's not really the pole, but I'll take a parade lap in front of the field so I can wave goodbye to a lot of good friends."

Simmons was proud to end his career at Mosport.

"It is my home track," said Simmons. "I live about two hours from here. I've raced here in every Trans-Am Series race for the last 18 years. It's significant for me to come here to end my Trans-Am Series career."

Simmons' best finish of ninth, came at Trois-Rivières in 1992. Simmons made his Series debut in 1984 at Watkins Glen International in New York. Simmons also won the 1999 Canadian GT Championship Series race at Mosport.

* Johnny Miller, driver of the No. 64 Eaton Cutler-Hammer Jaguar XKR in the Trans-Am Series, with his sponsor Eaton Cutler-Hammer, lent a helping hand to the Canadian United Way. On Wednesday, May 14, Miller and Eaton Cutler-Hammer held a charity luncheon at Eaton's Milton, Ontario facility.

The luncheon, which was for Eaton Cutler-Hammer employees, customers and friends, raised money for the United Way charity and also allowed Eaton to show off their involvement in Miller's Trans-Am Series race program. Proceeds from the event went to the local Milton office of the Canadian United Way.

"What a great afternoon with my sponsors and the wonderful volunteers from the United Way," said Miller, who has been working with Eaton for six seasons now. "We had a lot of fun here today with the United Way and all of the folks at Eaton, showing Eaton's customers and employees what our racing program is all about."

* Gary Blalock, tire engineer for Series spec tire supplier BFGoodrich® Tires, is brought 440 g-Force T/A® tires to Mosport in two dry compounds--200 (medium) and 75 (hard)--and a one full wet compound. Blalock is recommended teams run 26 pounds per square inch of hot air pressure in all four tires.

"The dynamics are a lot different at a permanent road course versus a street course," said Blalock. "The cornering speeds and the cornering loads are higher. We want to see higher operating pressures in the rear tires. We recommend 26 psi front and rear to try to get a little more mechanical grip to launch off of the corners. Mosport is as fast or faster than any track we visit all year. It's a fast track."

* Local racer Charlie Webster has had a busy weekend. Webster, driver of the No. 95 CJ Webster of Canada Ltd./Neil's Auto Body Chevrolet Camaro, crashed hard during the promoter's test day on Thursday. He left Mosport that night, went back his Burlington, Ontario shop and his crew worked feverishly to get his car ready for final practice and qualifying on Saturday.

* Rain washed out the first two rounds of Trans-Am Series practice Friday. Series officials allowed team's a 45-minute session on Saturday, and moved back qualifying to later in the day due to the inclement weather.

* Three cars took part in the Series' "Trans-Am Revealed" program Saturday afternoon. The Corvette of Simon Gregg, the Mustang of Jerry Simmons and the Jaguar XKR of Tomy Drissi had body panels removed for inspection by other teams and the Trans-Am Series technical staff. The objective of the program is to remove any secrecy regarding each team's design as it relates to chassis and hardware configurations.

-scca pro racing/trans am-

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Trans-Am
Drivers Scott Pruett , Tomy Drissi , Paul Gentilozzi , Johnny Miller , Randy Ruhlman , Jerry Simmons , Michael Lewis , Simon Gregg , Bobby Sak , Mark Donohue , Jorge Diaz