Washington DC: Michael Lewis qualifying notes

Michael Lewis dialing it in at Washington D.C. Cadillac Grand Prix. Michael Lewis brought his AmeriSuites Jaguar to Washington D.C. for the inaugural running of the Cadillac Grand Prix with little knowledge how to actually race on the street ...

Michael Lewis dialing it in at Washington D.C. Cadillac Grand Prix.

Michael Lewis brought his AmeriSuites Jaguar to Washington D.C. for the inaugural running of the Cadillac Grand Prix with little knowledge how to actually race on the street course setup at and around RFK Stadium. Of course none of the other teams racing in the 2002 Trans-Am Series had any idea either since this is a totally new track. For Lewis and the AutoCon Racing team guessing right and refining the car setup from there has the San Diego, California driver very optimistic about his chances in the race on Saturday.

"We made definite progress in each session to the point where we were fastest in the final session today (Friday)," said an elated Lewis. "The car was good for qualifying, and my crew made more changes and made the AmeriSuites Jaguar even better!"

Lewis will be starting from the fourth position for the Trans-Am portion of the Cadillac Grand Prix here in the nation's capitol. His time of 1:12.576 (82.211 MPH) came late in the session. With the top nine cars qualifying within 1 second of Butch Leitzinger's time of 1:12.021 it is another tightly bunched field. Series points leader Boris Said was second fastest with a time of 1:12.450.

Lewis was very impressed with the racing facility here at RFK Stadium saying. "The effort and detail that the organizers have put into this race course is in a word beautiful. From the grandstands, the temporary walls, and the brand new surface everything here is first class. They obviously have put a lot of effort and thought into the construction of this facility."

"The course itself is a bit strange and unique for us," Lewis said. "It is a bit like a go-kart track, but looks like the usual street track because of the concrete walls. But then with the track all being fresh asphalt it really is like a natural road course. Several teams were having trouble finding the proper setup here."

"All of the turns are first or second gear and we only get up to about 146MPH (only?), and I do wish there was a part of the course where we could exercise the car a bit more," Lewis continued. "But the turns are very wide and there are plenty of places to pass so it should be a great and exciting race."

Michael compared the first turn here at RFK Stadium to the wide airport first turn at Cleveland. Lewis seemed to think that the combination of slow turns, heavy breaking zones and a wide surface may entice the Trans-Am competitors to get a bit too aggressive during the race and he expects that there will probably be several full course caution laps. A few cars have already found the concrete barriers unforgiving already but there hasn't been too much car to car contact as yet.

"There isn't really much runoff area and little margin for error here," Lewis explained saying that. "There are three long and continuous break zones and the chicane is exciting as well. It is kind of a gut check going into turn one. I don't think tires or brakes will be a huge issue, but rear tires could be an issue. Boris Said is using hard compound tires on the rear, but the other fast five qualifiers have the soft compound tires in the rear. With the high heat and humidity here this weekend the race is going to be a real ordeal in these Trans-Am cars."

"The schedule here today (Friday) was brutal for the crews," said Lewis. "We had only one and a half hours after the first session to get the cars ready for qualifying. This on a track no one has seen. The poor crews had to work hard to change gears and everything in a very short time. Then three hours later we are back out on the track. Everything went well for us though. I have a great bunch of guys working on the AmeriSuites Jaguar and the crew definitely ended a very long and hard day on a high note."

The Capitol Trans-Am race is scheduled to get the green flag at 2:30 Saturday afternoon at RFK Stadium where Round 6 of the battle for the BF Goodrich Tires Cup will determine who was the best at taming a totally new track and racing facility. From the looks of things this event will be around for quite a while!

-mlr-

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Series Trans-Am
Drivers Butch Leitzinger , Boris Said , Michael Lewis