Kendall Wins first Trans-Am race since 1997 ELKHART LAKE Wis. (Aug. 7, 2004) -- It took him just 24 days short of five years, but Tommy Kendall finally got off the schneid Saturday, winning the 35th Annual Trans-Am Rumble at the Road at Road ...
Kendall Wins first Trans-Am race since 1997
ELKHART LAKE Wis. (Aug. 7, 2004) -- It took him just 24 days short of five years, but Tommy Kendall finally got off the schneid Saturday, winning the 35th Annual Trans-Am Rumble at the Road at Road America, Round 7 of the 2004 Motorock Trans-Am Series championship. Kendall, Trans-Am's only four-time champion, started 13th and drove through the field for the victory.
Randy Ruhlman finished second in the No. 49 Preformed Line Products Chevrolet Corvette, after losing the lead to Kendall on lap 19. Jorge Diaz, Jr. (No. 8 Puerto Rico Grand Prix Jaguar XKR) and 1978 Trans-Am champion Greg Pickett (No. 6 Jaguar XKR) finished third and fourth, respectively. Johnny Miller was fifth in his first race of 2004, in the No. 64 Eaton Corvette. Defending SCCA National Champion Cliff Ebben (No. McMahon & Associates Chevrolet Corvette) was the highest-finishing GT-1 competitor. He scored a Trans-Am career-best seventh-place overall finish.
Kendall's victory was the first for Jaguar's new production-based, fuel-injected AJ-V8 in just its eighth start. Kendall also set the fastest race lap, a record 2:09.115. Kendall now sits second in the title chase, just seven points behind championship leader Paul Gentilozzi, who finished 12th after suffering two flat tires on his No. 3 Jaguar R Performance XKR.
"This was worth waiting for," said Kendall, who scored his 27th victory, placing him just two wins behind the legendary Mark Donohue on Trans-Am's all-time win list. "This was just a month away from seven years from my last victory and a lot of water has run under the bridge in that time.
"The races earlier in the year were more than frustrating," added Kendall. "I set no goals for myself this year, except to have a good time. That kept me sane during those tough periods. It was tough watching the guys struggle, but I am proud to give Jaguar's AJ-V8 its first victory. It's been awhile since we've had bona fide factory support in the Series. Hopefully, this will convince a couple more manufacturers to come compete here."
Ruhlman's fourth podium this year came after he earned his first Trans-Am pole. Ruhlman is now fourth in points, just nine markers away from the lead.
"We had a great car today," said Ruhlman. "We had a good time. We just made a couple mistakes at the end and that gave Tommy the edge he needed. You really have to run a perfect game when you're running against guys like Tommy. We'll put it back together and we'll be strong in Denver next week."
Diaz earned his fourth podium this season and the fifth of his career. Diaz sits third in points, just nine markers out of the lead.
"We were very closed to Randy at the beginning of the race," said Diaz. "I thought he was going to wear out his tires, but at the end we were just a little too far back. I had a great battle going with Kendall. It was an awesome race."
The race ran in one hour, two minutes and 57.725 seconds at an average speed of 96.439 miles per hour. The race was slowed by one caution flag for the final five laps, waved for a fire in the Jaguar of Michael Lewis (No. 12 Autocon Jaguar XKR). Lewis was unharmed in the incident.
Tape-delayed highlights coverage from Road America will air on Spike TV's popular "Dangerous Curves" timeslot, Sunday, Aug. 15 at 10 a.m. (EDT, PDT).
The next race for the Motorock Trans-Am Series is scheduled for Aug. 14 at the Grand Prix of Denver.
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.