Tommy Archer Wins Wild Tommy Bahama 125 Trans-Am Race in Portland Pole-sitter Archer Scores First Win of Season in Race that Saw Seven Lead Changes PORTLAND, Ore. (August 4, 2001) -- Tommy Archer ( ...
Tommy Archer Wins Wild Tommy Bahama 125 Trans-Am Race in Portland
Pole-sitter Archer Scores First Win of Season in Race that Saw Seven Lead Changes
PORTLAND, Ore. (August 4, 2001) -- Tommy Archer (#36 Motor City True Performance-Dodge Viper) began the Tommy Bahama 125 in first place and ended in first place, but there's more to the story than that. The 65-lap, 126.36-mile Trans-Am race at Portland International Raceway saw a total of seven lead changes by four different drivers, a tangle between Archer and the number two starter Paul Gentilozzi (#3 Johnson Controls/HomeLink-Jaguar XKR) prior to the green flag which sent Archer to the pits to change a flat tire and Gentilozzi to the pits for a stop-and-go penalty, three full-course yellows and margin of victory of just 2.5 seconds. It was Archer's first win of the 2001 season after finishing in the top-five four times.
Archer, who missed the last race because of injuries suffered during a testing accident, was pleased with his performance and that of his crew. "It feels good to be back. My crew gave me a great car and we had a great day," he said. "The car ran the same at the end as it did at the beginning."
Following his unscheduled pit stop on the first lap to change a flat tire, Archer re-joined the race at the back of the pack. Undaunted, Archer furiously worked his way back up to the front, but didn't lead again until lap 23. He held that lead for just four laps, until pitting for fuel. He regained the lead on lap 29 and never relinquished it after that.
Archer, who has two runner-up finishes at Portland (1992 and 1993), said he expected the race to be a "wild ride."
"I've raced here at this track a lot. As the race goes on, the track gets more and more slippery," he said. "You've got to hunt around out there. I kept moving my line the whole race. I'd go inside and then I'd go outside. You've just got to go with it. It's always exciting."
Archer's win marks his first of the season and the first for his car, the Dodge Viper. Five different manufacturers have now posted wins in the 2001 Trans-am season -- Ford (Mustang), Chevrolet (Corvette), Jaguar (XKR), Qvale (Mangusta) and Dodge (Viper).
Gentilozzi started and finished the race in second place, but found himself at the back of the pack after he was black-flagged for contact with Archer on the pace lap. "I'm glad for Tommy (Archer) and his team, but disappointed that we didn't get the win," Gentilozzi said. "There was a miscommunication at the start, which is how we got together. I was told to go down the middle, but then Tommy came over. But he was the pole sitter and he decides and we all have to follow."
Gentilozzi led the race for 14 laps (2-16) and turned in the fast lap at 1:15.022. Like Archer, Gentilozzi had to work his way back up from the back of the pack. He also retained his points lead in the Drivers' Championship standings. "I had a great car and had plenty of opportunity to show it today," he said. "There are two things you can be sure of at Portland -- rain and something exciting will happen. No rain, but it was definitely exciting here up until the last minute. Stuff always happens."
Rookie Justin Bell (#40 Justin Bell GT Motorsports Experience Chevy Corvette) gained his first podium finish of the season by coming in third. Bell's previous best was fifth place at the last Trans-Am race at Sears Point on July 21. Bell actually finished today's race in fourth place, but was passed by Johnny Miller (#64 AutomationDirect/Cutler-Hammer-Jaguar XKR) on the last lap under caution and the final results put Bell in third place and Miller in fourth. Bell leads in the Rookie-of-the-Year points race.
"At Sears Point we started the race in 28th and finished in fifth, so we were hoping to come here and have a good qualifying," he said. "That didn't happen and we qualified 11th. I enjoyed it today and it was great for the team. It was a bit unfortunate for Johnny (Miller) but he's been up here before anyway. We had fun out there today."
Miller finished fourth and moved from third to second in the points standings. He also led the race for two laps -- from 21 to 23.
Boris Said (#33 Applied Computer Solutions-Panoz Esperante) rounds out the top five. Said started the race in third place and led on two separate occasions for a total of seven laps.
There were three cautions for 10 laps. The first came at Laps 4-7 for debris on the backstretch. The second at laps 59-62 to remove a disabled car from the track. The last, causing the race to finish under yellow, came at lap 64 when Lou Gigliotti hit the wall at the start of the front straight.