Road America: Qualifying notes

Randy Ruhlman Wins First Trans-Am Pole in 144th Try at Road America ELKHART LAKE, Wis. (Aug. 6, 2004) -- Randy Ruhlman, in his 144th start, won his first Motorock Trans-Am pole Friday at Road America for Sunday's 35th Annual Trans-Am Rumble at...

Randy Ruhlman Wins First Trans-Am Pole in 144th Try at Road America

ELKHART LAKE, Wis. (Aug. 6, 2004) -- Randy Ruhlman, in his 144th start, won his first Motorock Trans-Am pole Friday at Road America for Sunday's 35th Annual Trans-Am Rumble at the Road. Driving the No. 49 Preformed Line Products Chevrolet Corvette, Ruhlman also gave Chevrolet its first pole since October of 2002. Ruhlman, currently third in the championship, earns one bonus point for the pole.

Jorge Diaz, Jr. (No. 8 Puerto Rico Grand Prix Jaguar XKR), points leader Paul Gentilozzi (No. 3 Jaguar R Performance XKR and Greg Pickett (No. 6 Cytomax Jaguar XKR) qualified second through fourth, respectively. Johnny Miller, in his first Trans-Am start this season, was fifth in the No. 64 Eaton Chevrolet Corvette.

Ruhlman said wholesale changes in philosophy at his Derhaag Motorsports team have led to his consistent results this season, which culminated in the pole.

"This is the contuation of success that really began last fall,” said Ruhlman. "We sat down with (team owner) Jim Derhaag and the team. Jim is known in the past to be one of the more stubborn owners in the paddock. We struggled a little bit last year, but we started to work together late in the year and figured out how to work together and communicate. He found out what I needed in the car, and over the winter, we took everything we knew and started over. We started with what I needed to drive the car, rather than what the team thought I needed. It paid off today.

"It's tough fighting those Jaguars, though I think the Corvette is up for the fight,” added Ruhlman. "I think that Paul (Gentilozzi) and the stewards he has assembled have done a great job of achieving parity in the Series. I think that's showing up on the grid and the race results and it has made this a better show for everyone. It will continue to attract more competitors in the coming year.”

Diaz was pleased with the outside pole.

"The track really changed from this morning to this afternoon's qualifying session,” said Diaz. "It was a little bit slower. We had a few problems with the power steering early on, but after that, we immediately knew the car was fast. We completed five or six strong laps and we're happy with qualifying second.”

Gentilozzi said changes he made to his machine ended up slowing him down in qualifying.

"We made a mistake in the changes we made between sessions and we slowed the car down a fair bit,” said Gentilozzi. "We'll have to go back and re-think those changes. We had an awful push and overheated the front tires. You just can do that here. You have get the car through the apex and I couldn't do that at all. It was very frustrating to drive around, knowing the car was faster, and not being able to get it there.

"Starting with new tires is a consideration,” added Gentilozzi. "I definitely overheated the front tires and I ran more laps than I wanted to. We'll take a look at it, but I don't think that's what we'll do. Track position here is tough to get.”

The 35th Annual Trans-Am Rumble at the Road is scheduled for Friday and Saturday Aug. 6-7. The Trans-Am race is scheduled to start at 4:45 p.m. CDT on Saturday. The race will be broadcast LIVE on HDNet, with tape-delayed highlights coverage on Spike TV's popular "Dangerous Curves” timeslot, Sunday, Aug. 15 at 10 a.m. (EDT, PDT).

The Motorock 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 America's oldest continuously running road racing series and celebrates its 39th year of competition in 2004.

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About this article
Series Trans-Am
Drivers Paul Gentilozzi , Randy Ruhlman , Greg Pickett , Jorge Diaz
Teams HART