Leitzinger extends pole streak to three at inaugural Capital Trans-Am WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 19, 2002) - Rookie Butch Leitzinger continued an impressive run of qualifying in the 2002 Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich Tires Cup Friday when he ...
Leitzinger extends pole streak to three at inaugural Capital Trans-Am
WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 19, 2002) - Rookie Butch Leitzinger continued an impressive run of qualifying in the 2002 Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich Tires Cup Friday when he captured the pole position for Saturday's inaugural Capital Trans-Am 100 at RFK Stadium (2:30 p.m. ET, live, CBS).
Leitzinger (#88 Tommy Bahama/Tom Gloy Chevrolet Corvette) toured the 1.66-mile, seven-turn temporary circuit in the stadium parking lot with a fast lap of 83.026 miles per hour (1 minute, 12.735 seconds), giving him the right to lead 23 fellow competitors to the green flag for Saturday's sixth of 12 rounds in the championship. The pole was Leitzinger's series-high fourth of the season and his third in the row, following earlier pole-winning efforts at Mosport, Mid-Ohio and Cleveland.
In addition to his fourth Jaguar Pole Award of the season, Leitzinger also collected two championship points, allowing him to break a tie with Johnny Miller (#64 Automation Direct/Eaton Cutler-Hammer Jaguar XKR) and move into sole possession of third place in the championship, with 119 points. Boris Said leads the series with 153 points, followed by three-time and defending Trans-Am series champion Paul Gentilozzi, with 125.
"This is an excellent track," Leitzinger said of the newly constructed circuit, which held up admirably under the intense heat and humidity, as well as the persistent pounding offered by competitors in the five different events which comprise this weekend's racing card. "All of us [drivers] have commented on how great a job the organizers have done of putting this event together.
"The grip is so good on the asphalt that it's going to promote a lot of passing opportunities. It's going to inspire a lot of confidence in the drivers, and I think that means we'll have an exciting race tomorrow."
Said (#33 Applied Computer Solutions Panoz Esperante) qualified on the outside pole with a lap of 1:12.450 (82.534 mph). The effort brought him a championship point and equaled a season-best qualifying effort established at Long Beach and Mosport and Mid-Ohio. Said has qualified third or better for each of his six 2002 Trans-Am Series starts.
"I took a conservative approach to qualifying," Said explained afterward. "I'm the only guy [among the top five qualifiers] with hard rear tires, because I want the grip to be there when I need it tomorrow [Trans-Am rules mandate that drivers must start the race on the same tires they use for qualifying]. I'm counting on some long green-flag runs in this heat that will melt the other guys' tires."
Said was also complimentary of the new road circuit. "I've raced on a lot of temporary circuits all over this country," praised Said, who will be looking for his series-high fourth victory of the season Saturday afternoon, "and this is the best one I've seen in a long time. Because of the conditions, I'm going to treat this as an endurance race. I want to make sure I have plenty of car left at the end."
Tony Ave (#53 Trilithic Panoz Esperante) established a season-best by qualifying third at 82.532 mph (1:12.452), exceeding his previous best of fifth, established at Lime Rock and equaled at Cleveland. He, too, collected a championship point, improving his total to 93, fifth in the series.
"For a temporary circuit, this is really smooth and wide," Ave observed. "It wasn't hard to get the car to work here at all. The fact that [the track] is so smooth caught me by surprise. I did a good lap right away, and late in the session I had another one going, but Paul Gentilozzi held me up.
"I'm happy, though, because I know the car can run up front."
Michael Lewis (#12 AmeriSuites Jaguar XKR) qualified fourth at 82.391 mph (1:12.576), followed by Miller at 82.211 mph (1:12.735). Gentilozzi qualified sixth at 82.189 mph (1:12.754) and the top nine qualifiers were covered by less than one second.
-scca pro racing-