Washington DC: Inaugural race report

Rookie holds off veteran as Leitzinger bests Gentilozzi in inaugural Capital Trans-Am 100. WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 20, 2002) -- Rookie Butch Leitzinger and veteran Paul Gentilozzi waged a stirring battle over the final dozen laps Saturday before...

Rookie holds off veteran as Leitzinger bests Gentilozzi in inaugural Capital Trans-Am 100.

WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 20, 2002) -- Rookie Butch Leitzinger and veteran Paul Gentilozzi waged a stirring battle over the final dozen laps Saturday before Leitzinger came away with a victory in the inaugural Capital Trans-Am 100, Round 6 of the 2002 Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich Tires Cup.

Leitzinger, making his seventh career Trans-Am Series start from the pole, led Gentilozzi, making his series record 179th, by a seemingly comfortable 2.232 seconds following the 50th of 61 laps on the temporary road circuit at RFK Stadium. Over the next six laps, however, Gentilozzi managed to whittle his deficit to just 0.695 seconds.

He got even closer by the end of Lap 58, pulling within 0.685 seconds of Leitzinger's lead. But at the outset of Lap 59, Gentilozzi made a daring run into the first turn of the 1.66-mile course, put all four wheels off track, and was unable to execute the pass. He got no closer thereafter.

Leitzinger (#88 Tommy Bahama/Tom Gloy Chevrolet Corvette) went on to a 1.023-second victory over Gentilozzi, the three-time and defending Trans-Am Series champion, in front of a national television audience (CBS Sports). It was the second Trans-Am triumph of Leitzinger's career and his fourth consecutive podium finish, dating to a third-place performance at Lime Rock in late May. Though he remained third in the chase for the BFGoodrich Tires Cup, Leitzinger became a major factor in the championship hunt by virtue of the victory.

With 151 points, Leitzinger has pulled within one of Gentilozzi's second-place total of 152. Boris Said (#33 Applied Computer Solutions Panoz Esperante) continues to lead the title race with 178 points after posting a third-place result Saturday, his sixth consecutive podium finish of the season.

"It's a real joy to race for the Tommy Bahama team," said Leitzinger, who collected a $20,000 contingency bonus from Chevrolet in addition to the winner's purse. "From the first session of the weekend, we didn't have any problems.

"I'm a rookie in the series, so I don't have a 'book' yet," Leitzinger added. "For them to be able to come to a brand new circuit like this and prepare a car for me that was so good right out of the box -- it's a real tribute to the team."

Leitzinger also offered his compliments to the organizers and fans of the inaugural Cadillac Grand Prix, of which the Capital Trans-Am 100 was Saturday's feature event.

"Not to be redundant, but I'd like to say that this event was run more smoothly than any temporary circuit I've ever raced on," he said. "I've raced on many street circuits in many different types of racing and the attention to detail here is unbelievable.

"I've always felt that this would be a good market for motorsports, and this weekend just proves it," Leitzinger added. "My hat is off to both the fans and the organizers here."

Gentilozzi (#3 Johnson Controls/Microchip/Matrix One/Futaba Jaguar XKR) recorded his third podium result of the season and his second in three races, including second at Mid-Ohio. With the effort, Gentilozzi extended Trans-Am Series records for career starts (179), top-three finishes (58), top-five finishes (91), top-10 finishes (121) and lead lap finishes (116).

"The dynamic of the weekend wasn't going our way," said Gentilozzi, recalling his sixth-place qualifying effort. "We made a desperation move for the last practice session [Friday evening] -- we tried a suspension combination we weren't sure would work -- and it was worth a full second on the race track and made for a great race car.

"Butch did a good job in traffic," he added. "We were just two guys working our butts off. I could close in on him under braking, but he could get off the corner better. This was Trans-Am racing at its best, just like it always is, and from where we started, we're happy to leave here with a podium finish."

Said battled power steering problems throughout the day, but, like Gentilozzi, was pleased to place on the podium.

"I lost my power steering about 10 laps into the race, and this isn't the type of track where you want that to happen," Said explained. "I was hanging on the whole time. For us to have a bad day and still come away with third, we've got to be happy with that."

Stuart Hayner (#02 Trenton Forging/Tom Bell Chevrolet Corvette) continued a strong run of recent performances by finishing fourth, his third consecutive top-five result. Tony Ave (#53 Trilithic Panoz Esperante) rounded out the top-five finishers with a fifth-place performance, the third consecutive top-six showing in his past four starts.

The Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich Tires Cup continues at the Grand Prix de Trois Rivieres on Sunday, August 4 at Trois-Rivieres, Quebec, Canada. The event will air live on SPEED Channel, beginning at 2:30 p.m. ET.

Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich Tires Cup Points Standings Through Six Rounds (unofficial): Boris Said 178, Paul Gentilozzi 153, Butch Leitzinger 151, Johnny Miller 138, Tony Ave 114, Stuart Hayner 113, Randy Ruhlman 109, Michael Lewis 108, Justin Bell 98, Tomy Drissi 89.

-scca pro racing-

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About this article
Series Trans-Am
Drivers Butch Leitzinger , Boris Said , Tony Ave , Justin Bell , Tomy Drissi , Paul Gentilozzi , Johnny Miller , Stuart Hayner , Michael Lewis , Tom Gloy