Alexander and Panoz - success one race at a time

INDIANAPOLIS -- Kerry Alexander, owner/driver of the ...

Alexander and Panoz - success one race at a time

INDIANAPOLIS -- Kerry Alexander, owner/driver of the # 35 WickesLumber/Trilithic Engineering LAC Motorsports Panoz Esperante, has battled out from under the dark clouds that gathered over his fledgling team early in the 2001 Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich Tires season. An exuberant new team, a hot new car, an outstanding sponsorship package and a rookie teammate sometimes all competed for his undivided attention at critical points. But now Alexander sees more than the promise of the success he's chasing.

The car - the dynamic new Panoz Esperante - needed more final touches than could be completed before the Sebring season opener in March. Disappointment and tragedy clouded races in Long Beach, Mosport and Detroit, where mechanical failures and accidents tested Alexander and the team to the core.

Then in Cleveland, the dark cloud that hung over the team for more than a month drifted off in the horizon on the coat tail of a Lake Erie squall. Alexander finished the race in 15th position, taking the first checkered flag for the Panoz stable.

On July 21, in his first outing at Sears Point Raceway, he qualified 13th and finished 11th, even though his track time was limited. "We missed the track set up a little bit, because it was sunnier on Saturday than Friday," he explained. During the race he maneuvered the Esperante into the top ten before a full course caution bunched up the field.

With a light fuel load, the car was a little looser than Alexander preferred, which contributed to losing a couple of spots on the re-start. "I really needed more time to figure out the track. There are a lot of turns and elevation changes, so there is always something going on at Sears Point. There isn't a lot of room for mistakes there.

"But we're happy with the weekend. We finished better than the last race and we finished another race, so we're seeing some improvement. Sears Point is a wonderful facility. I look forward to coming back next year," he adds.

Heading to Portland for Round 7 of the Trans-Am Series, Alexander is looking forward to learning another new track, but again wishes he could find more time on the track before qualifying. "We've worked on the set up a little already. Portland is a faster track and a flatter track, and it will be new to everyone else, so we should have about the same opportunity as everyone else," he notes.

And as far as the rest of the season goes, Alexander sees more progress ahead for himself, his team and his car. "We're still dealing with some things with the car. We just keep working with it. We hope to keep running well through the latter part of the season and regroup over the winter. Then we can be a real threat next season," he adds.

Alexander and the rest of the Trans-Am competitors will race 65 laps around the 1.969 mile, 9-turn road course at Portland on Saturday, Aug. 4, 2001 at 1 pm Pacific time. The Tommy Bahama 125, the first Trans-Am Series race at Portland International Raceway since 1995, will be broadcast live on Speedvision at 1 pm Pacific time, 4 pm Eastern.


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