Wilden Claims pole for first Trans-Am Series start of season in Johnson Controls 100 at Road America. ELKHART LAKE, Wis. (August 16, 2002) -- Kenny Wilden, named Thursday to drive the ...
Wilden Claims pole for first Trans-Am Series start of season in Johnson Controls 100 at Road America.
ELKHART LAKE, Wis. (August 16, 2002) -- Kenny Wilden, named Thursday to drive the #40 XtremeLens Chevrolet Corvette for Derhaag Motorsports, made his return to the Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich Tires Cup a successful one Friday when he claimed the pole position for the Johnson Controls 100 at Road America.
Wilden, a Canadian whose last career Trans-Am start came at Long Beach in 2001, put together a lap of 111.644 miles per hour (2 minutes, 10.529 seconds) on the 4.048-mile permanent road course to earn the second pole position of his Trans-Am Series career. Wilden's earlier pole came while driving for the Derhaag team at Laguna Seca in 2000 in a race he ultimately won.
Wilden will start in the seat recently vacated by Justin Bell when the eighth round of the 2002 Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich Tires Cup takes the green flag at 4:30 p.m. ET Saturday (noon ET Sunday, SPEED Channel, tape delay).
"I didn't have a pole-winning car [during practice] this morning," said Wilden, who earned his first two championship points of the season, as well as the Jaguar Pole Award, for his effort. "It was pretty obvious what the problem was; we had a big understeer problem.
"So, we know what we had to fix. Jim [Derhaag, team owner] and I went through the track layout together, he made the changes, and I had a tremendous car this afternoon.
"This is probably the best car I've even had for a Trans-Am race. I'm thrilled for the team."
Wilden will be making his 10th career Trans-Am Series start on Saturday. He owns five top-10 finishes and two podium results in his career to date.
Championship leader Boris Said (#33 Applied Computer Solutions Panoz Esperante) qualified on the outside pole at 111.480 mph (2:10.721). He has qualified among the top three drivers for each of the eight Trans-Am events to date, and is making his sixth front-row start of the campaign, including a pole in the most recent round at Trois-Rivieres.
Said also earned a championship point, giving him 199 for the season and improving his advantage over second-place Butch Leitzinger (#88 Tommy Bahama/Tom Gloy Chevrolet Corvette) to 15 points (199-184).
Leitzinger, winner of three of the past four Trans-Am events (Mid-Ohio, Washington, D.C., Trois-Rivieres) qualified a season-worst 21st, after a mechanical problem caused his car to shut down on course, limiting him to only one qualifying lap.
"It was a fun qualifying session," Said commented. "Paul [third-place qualifier Paul Gentilozzi] and I had our own race going -- I'd follow him for awhile, then he'd follow me, and we had a good time.
"The ACS car has been great for us all year," Said added, "and we're looking forward to another great race tomorrow."
Gentilozzi (#3 Johnson Controls/Microchip/Futaba/Matrix One Jaguar XKR) qualified third at 111.41 mph (2:10.809). He, too, improved his point total to 175, third in the championship, while extending his series record for top-five qualifying performances to 108, in his 181st start.
"We had a really bad first practice, so we changed everything on the car," Gentilozzi said. "We went back to last year's setup for Road America, and the changes were pretty productive.
"I was happy with the car this afternoon, and then that Wilden guy came out of nowhere. Kenny had a great run."
Tony Ave (#53 Trilithic Panoz Esperante) qualified fourth at 111.35 mph (2:10.871), followed by Johnny Miller (#64 Automation Direct/Eaton Cutler-Hammer Jaguar XKR) at 111.29 mph (2:10.940). Both put together their fourth top-five qualifying efforts of the season; it is Ave's third in the last four events.
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