Paul Gentilozzi won the Long Beach Trans-Am race in an exciting last-lap battle with Boris Said and Justin Bell. The three drivers started the last lap with Said leading Gentilozzi and Bell, the same order they took the last restart the lap...
Paul Gentilozzi won the Long Beach Trans-Am race in an exciting last-lap battle with Boris Said and Justin Bell. The three drivers started the last lap with Said leading Gentilozzi and Bell, the same order they took the last restart the lap before. Gentilozzi made the first move in turn 5, pulling his Rocketsports Jaguar XJR alongside Said's Panoz. When he ran wide in turn 6, Said attempted a re-pass and Bell made it three-wide through the kink leading to turn 8. They went through 8 in roughly Bell-Said-Gentilozzi order, but Gentilozzi got the run down the back straight (where they were again three-wide and bumping) and took the lead into turn 9. Said bumped Bell's Derhaag Motorsports Corvette into a spin under braking for turn 10 and followed Gentilozzi across the line for second place. Gentilozzi's Rocketsports teammate, Johnny Miller, came through for third place. Bell recovered to finish 8th.
In the race's early laps, the Trans-Am teams got a clean start, the leaders falling into their qualifying order, Gentilozzi in front. Said was the first to stop for fuel on lap 15, causing him to fall out of the top ten. Bell was making the most early progress, climbing from his 15th start position to 7th by lap 20, when the race's first full-course yellow was waved for Claudio Burtin's stalled Panoz in the turn 6 runoff area.
When the leaders went into the pits for their pit stops under the yellow, rookie driver Butch Leitzinger and Lou Gigliotti stayed out to run first and second. Leitzinger pitted his Tom Gloy Motorsports Corvette on the next lap and put himself out of contention by exceeding the pit speed limit, requiring him to serve a drive-through penalty.
On the restart, Said rode Gigliotti's bumper until he could find a place to squeeze by on the narrow course. Next, it was Bell who was riding the back bumper of Gigliotti's LG Motorsports Corvette and he finally made the pass on lap 37. While Bell was held up, though, Said was able to pull out a large lead and Gentilozzi was able to catch the Bell/Gigliotti battle. Gentilozzi soon passed them both.
Two laps later, Leitzinger crashed out of 10th place, hitting the wall at the outside of turn 5 and bringing out a caution that wiped out Said's large lead. Gigliotti went in for his stop under this caution, but had to make a second stop for a deflating tire and was also out of contention.
The green waved with two laps remaining, setting up the wild finish.
The win was Gentilozzi's 24th Trans-Am win and his fourth at Long Beach.