Jorge Diaz, Jr. Scores First Motorock Trans-Am Victory at Molson Indy Toronto; Corvette Drivers Randy Ruhlman and Ron Fellows Second and Third TORONTO, Ontario (July 10, 2004) -- Jorge Diaz, Jr. predicted at the beginning of the 2004 Motorock...
Jorge Diaz, Jr. Scores First Motorock Trans-Am Victory at Molson Indy Toronto; Corvette Drivers Randy Ruhlman and Ron Fellows Second and Third
TORONTO, Ontario (July 10, 2004) -- Jorge Diaz, Jr. predicted at the beginning of the 2004 Motorock Trans-Am Series season that he would win a race before the end of the year. His prediction came true Saturday as the young Puerto Rican driver won the Trans-Am in T.O., part of the Molson Indy Toronto weekend. The 2003 Trans-Am Rookie of the Year, driving the No. 8 Puerto Rico Grand Prix Jaguar XKR, took the lead from Paul Gentilozzi on lap 30 when Gentilozzi spun, and he never looked back, beating second-place finisher Randy Ruhlman (No. 49 Preformed Line Products Canada/Coyote Closures Chevrolet Corvette) by 6.307 seconds.
Local driver Ron Fellows, in his return to Trans-Am competition after a six-year hiatus, finished third in the No. 40 Molson Indy Chevrolet Corvette after leading the first two laps. Fellows scored his 41st career Trans-Am podium. Gentilozzi, who set a record fast race lap (1:12.149) was fourth in a Jaguar XKR. Tomy Drissi was fifth, also in a Jaguar.
"This is the biggest accomplishment in my racing career," said Diaz, who with the win, closed the gap in the points race. Diaz now sits just two points behind championship leader Gentilozzi.. "I just followed Paul (Gentilozzi) until I got the right opportunity. I didn't really relax until the end of the race. We made a pretty big gamble coming into today. We made four changes this morning. My team and my crew chief Millo Martinez worked really hard and it paid off for us today.
"We are dedicating this season to my sister, Monique, who recently survived cancer," added Diaz. "I'm so proud to bring this first-place trophy back to Puerto Rico for her."
Ruhlman earned his second podium this season and third-straight top-five finish.
"We learned a lot this season," said Ruhlman, who moves to third in the title chase, 16 points out of the lead. "We run every week and we just keep trying. We tried something different this morning and it didn't work. So, we tried something different. (team owner) Jim Derhaag and the guys really worked hard, and we got some input from Ron (Fellows) which was helpful. The whole program is coming along. We're just really pleased to be up here."
Fellows earned the Canadian Cup for being the highest-finishing Canadian driver in the field. The Trans-Am Series will award the Canadian Cup at each Canadian event this season.
"It was really great to be out running again," said Fellows. "I really have to thank the people at Molson and (team owner) Jim Derhaag for allowing this to happen. This deal came together on Wednesday afternoon, so Jim's guys had to work really hard to put this together. I want to thank them for their efforts.
"We struggled a little bit, losing second gear early," added Fellows. "We were three speeding it. Second gear is kind of important here. We had a decent car. I think we'll be a lot better prepared at the next race in Trois-Rivières."
Tommy Kendall took the lead from Fellows on lap three, but fell out with mechanical problems on lap 20, handing the lead to Gentilozzi, who started last due to his changing tires after qualifying.
Diaz earned the VP Racing Fuels Hard Charger Award for making up the most positions during the race as well as the BFGoodrich Tires Take Control Award for leading the most laps.
The caution-free race ran in a record one hour, 39.670 seconds at an average speed of 85.058 miles per hour (136.887 kilometers per hour). Highlights from today's race will run on Spike TV's "Dangerous Curves" show on Sunday, July 18 at 1:30 p.m. (EDT/PDT). The next race for the Motorock Trans-Am Series is scheduled for July 30-Aug. 1 at the 35th Le Grand Prix de Trois-Rivières in Quebec.
Time of race: 1:00:39.670.
Margin of victory: 6.307 seconds.
Winner's average speed: 85.058 mph (136.887 kph).
Caution flags: 0.
Lead changes: four among four drivers.
Lap leaders: Fellows 1-2; Kendall 3-20; Gentilozzi 21-29; Diaz 30-49.
1, Gentilozzi 121
2, Diaz 119
3, Ruhlman 105
4, Kendall 101
5, Drissi 100
6, Scarallo 99
7, Baucom 98
8, Pickett 83
9, Philip Simms 61
10, Boris Said 58.