GENTILOZZI TOPS FIELD AT WATKINS GLEN NTB TRANS-AM WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (August 8, 1998) - Paul Gentilozzi, driving the No. 3 AutoLink Chevrolet Corvette, scored his seventh NTB Trans-Am Series victory of the season after leading flag-to-flag at...
GENTILOZZI TOPS FIELD AT WATKINS GLEN NTB TRANS-AM
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (August 8, 1998) - Paul Gentilozzi, driving the No. 3 AutoLink Chevrolet Corvette, scored his seventh NTB Trans-Am Series victory of the season after leading flag-to-flag at the Bosch Trans-Am Classic at Watkins Glen International, topping runner-up Brian Simo by 1.935-second while Stu Hayner finished third.
Gentilozzi, of Lansing, Mich., started the 42-lap, 101.9-mile race first after posting his seventh pole of the season, heading a modern-era record 43-car field, the second-largest field in series' history and the largest since 1983.
"We came in here in an aggressive mood," said Gentilozzi. "We're in front of a lot of people this weekend and we wanted to do real well."
For the duration of the 1:14:00.319 race Gentilozzi was hotly pursued by second-place starter Simo, in the No. 2 Valvoline Ford Mustang Cobra, and several time Simo looked to make a bid for the lead in traffic, but Gentilozzi was able to hold off each challenge to record his 10th career win.
The race was slowed by two full-course cautions with no resulting injuries, but the field ran 12 laps behind the pace car, twice bunching the field and allowing Simo an opportunity for the lead.
"You've got a rhythm going and I had a bit of an advantage going into both cautions," added Gentilozzi. "I really wanted to get back to green racing."
"We tried to take advantage of the traffic but if usually hurt us as much as helped us -- I think it was basically a wash," said Simo.
To score the final podium position Hayner, who qualified fourth in the No. 58 Westward Ho Casino Camaro, had to make his way through the massive field from his 42nd-place start, a result of failing to present his car on time for the pre-race technical inspection.
"It's always great to come back to Watkins Glen," said Hayner. "We've turned a lot of laps here and have almost always done well."
Hayner's drive to his third career top-three finish in 11 career starts also earned the Yorba Linda, Calif., driver the DynoMax Turn On The Power Award for turning in the best drive of the race. Hayner also turned in the fastest lap of the race, posting a 1:13.337 on the final lap to break Gentilozzi's nine-race string of fastest race laps.
"We had an awfully good car today," added Hayner. "Going into this race we had a lot of concern after having had to start at the back. At the end I was just wishing we could go a couple of extra green laps because my car was just perfect."
Finishing fourth behind Hayner was Chris Neville, followed by John Miller IV, and Bill Saunders, who started 41 after missing all practice and qualifying sessions due to business conflicts.
After 10 races, Gentilozzi leads the Drivers' Championship point standings with 285, followed by Saunders, 215; top rookie Neville, 213; Miller IV, 205; Simo, 204; Bruce Qvale, 188; Ross Thompson, 171; Leighton Reese, 152; Randy Ruhlman, 137; and Michael Lewis, 135.