Road Atlanta: Race report

Said clinches BFGoodrich Tires Cup with victory in Trans-Am 100 presented by the Crank. BRASELTON, Ga. (October 11, 2002) -- Boris Said finished off his rivals for the BFGoodrich Tires Cup in impressive fashion Friday afternoon when he drove to...

Said clinches BFGoodrich Tires Cup with victory in Trans-Am 100 presented by the Crank.

BRASELTON, Ga. (October 11, 2002) -- Boris Said finished off his rivals for the BFGoodrich Tires Cup in impressive fashion Friday afternoon when he drove to his fourth consecutive victory in the Trans-Am 100 Presented by the Crank -- You've Never Seen a Ratchet Like This! at Road Atlanta and captured the Trans-Am Series driving championship in the process.

Said (#33 Applied Computer Solutions Panoz Esperante) slipped past pole-sitter and race leader Butch Leitzinger in the 10th of Road Atlanta's 12 turns on the 34th of 40 laps and went on to a 2.43-second victory over Leitzinger in the 11th of 12 rounds in the 2002 Trans-Am Series championship. With only the October 27 season finale at Virginia International Raceway remaining, Said holds an insurmountable 327-263 lead over Leitzinger in the Trans-Am championship standings, guaranteeing Said the first driving championship of his seven-year Trans-Am Series career.

"In the past, I've never cared much about a championship," noted Said, who built his title run on series-high totals of seven victories and 10 podium finishes in his 11 starts to date. "I am a bit selfish, and all I want to do is go out and win races.

"This championship is for the ACS Express Team, the sponsors -- Applied Computer Solutions and Sun Microsystems -- and [team owners] Mike and Sandy Davis, who put the team together and gave me this opportunity. It is a good feeling clinching the championship here at Road Atlanta for [track owner] Don Panoz. When I look back on this season, I'll be remembering the tracks and how I ran on them. We've really had a hot streak this year."

Said's "hot streak" has included victories at Mosport, Lime Rock, Cleveland, Road America, Denver and Miami, in addition to Road Atlanta. He also owns finishes of second at Long Beach and third at Mid-Ohio and Washington, D.C. His consecutive triumphs at Road America, Denver, Miami and Road Atlanta make him the first Trans-Am Series driver to win four races in a row since Tom Kendall set a series record by winning the first 11 races of the 1997 season.

Said also became only the fourth driver in Trans-Am Series history to win as many as seven races in a season of 12 or fewer events, joining Mark Donohue (seven of 10 in 1971), Bob Tullius (seven of 10 in 1978) and Scott Pruett (seven of 12 in 1987).

"Looking back through the history of Trans-Am there have always been 'eras' -- the Roush Racing era, the Buzz McCall era and more recently, the Rocketsports era. Now, there is a new sheriff in town -- ACS Express Racing," Said warned.

Leitzinger's runner-up result, coupled with the two championship points he earned for leading the most race laps, moved him into second place in the championship with 263 points, two ahead of three-time Trans-Am Series champion Paul Gentilozzi, who finished fourth Friday. Leitzinger (#88 Tommy Bahama/Tom Gloy Chevrolet Corvette) recorded his seventh podium finish in his past nine starts, including victories at Mid-Ohio, Washington, D.C. and Trois-Rivieres.

"The Tommy Bahama car was working really well early," said Leitzinger, who established a track record of 110.974 miles per hour (1 minute, 22.398 seconds) in winning the pole position on Thursday. "About two-thirds of the way through the race, we developed a transmission problem; I couldn't get into third gear and Boris started gaining on me a ton. [On lap 34], he pulled alongside me, and if I was racing anyone else but Boris, I probably would have given him a little nudge, but he's a straight-up guy and he's always raced me cleanly, so when he pulled ahead, I let him go.

"With everything that happened, I'm very happy for the team," Leitzinger added. "It was a very good weekend for us."

Stuart Hayner (#02 Trenton Forging Chevrolet Corvette) finished third, equaling a season-best result established at Cleveland and matched at Denver. He extended a run which has seen him finish among the top-five drivers in seven of his past eight starts, dating to a fifth-place finish at Mid-Ohio.

Rounding out the top five drivers were Gentilozzi (#3 Johnson Controls/Microchip/Matrix One/Futaba Jaguar XKR), whose fourth-place effort was his eighth top-five result in 11 starts, but who saw his hopes of a record-tying fourth Trans-Am Series driving championship come to an end. Gentilozzi's teammate, Johnny Miller (#64 Automation Direct/Eaton Cutler-Hammer Jaguar XKR) finished fifth, the 22nd time in his past 23 starts that he has recorded a top-10 result, dating to his victory in the 2002 season finale at San Diego.

The Trans-Am 100 Presented by The Crank -- You've Never Seen a Ratchet Like This! will air on SPEED Channel on Friday, Oct. 18 at 8 p.m. ET.

Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich Tires Cup championship leaders (unofficial, following 11 of 12 events): Boris Said, 327; Butch Leitzinger, 263; Paul Gentilozzi, 261; Johnny Miller, 237; Stuart Hayner, 231; Randy Ruhlman 206; Tony Ave, 200; Tomy Drissi 183; Michael Lewis, 174; Simon Gregg, 156.

-scca pro racing-

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About this article
Series Trans-Am
Drivers Butch Leitzinger , Boris Said , Scott Pruett , Tony Ave , Tomy Drissi , Paul Gentilozzi , Johnny Miller , Randy Ruhlman , Stuart Hayner , Tom Kendall , Michael Lewis , Simon Gregg , Tom Gloy , Don Panoz , Bob Tullius