Denver: Race report
Pruett holds off Said for MotoRock Mile High 100 victory DENVER -- Scott Pruett proved his lack of experience at Denver didn't matter, as the he simply dominated Sunday's MotoRock Mile 100, part of the Centrix Financial Grand Prix of Denver, ...
Pruett holds off Said for MotoRock Mile High 100 victory
DENVER -- Scott Pruett proved his lack of experience at Denver didn't matter, as the he simply dominated Sunday's MotoRock Mile 100, part of the Centrix Financial Grand Prix of Denver, and recorded his seventh victory in nine MotoRock Trans-Am Tour for the BFGoodrich Tires Cup starts this season. Pruett, driver of the No. 7 MotoRock Jaguar XKR, led from the pole at Denver's 1.647-mile temporary street course, and then held off defending champion and last year's Denver race winner Boris Said for the victory.
Said (No. 33 ACS/GE Access/Sun Microsystems Ford Mustang), Johnny Miller (No. 64 Eaton Cutler-Hammer Jaguar XKR), finished second and third, while Stu Hayner (No. 2 GMAC Commercial Finance/Trenton Forging Chevrolet Corvette) rebounded from early contact with Tomy Drissi (No. 5 Stuck on You, The Movie Jaguar XKR) to finish fourth. Justin Bell (No. 59 Ultama Swimwear Chevrolet Corvette), filling in for Simon Gregg, who is recovering from minor elective surgery, finished fifth.
"This season has been just terrific," said Pruett, who leaves Denver, unofficially, with a 49-point lead in the championship. "We ran hard here, but left a little on the table. You can't challenge this track 100%; one little bobble and you can lose a half a second or more. You've got to be heads up enough not to get in too deep and pay a big price. We were really laying it down. At the beginning, my car had an ugly understeer, but by the end, it was sweet. The car really came in well.
"Both Boris (Said) and I race in Winston Cup, so we're used to leaning on each other a bit," added Pruett, who with his 21st career victory tied Bob Tullius for fourth on the all-time Trans-Am win list. "It makes it more of a challenge. If you're in the position to do it, you let the guy in front know he needs to speed up or move out of the way." With his victory, Pruett earned the BFGoodrich Tires Take Control Award for leading the most laps, after being presented the Jaguar Pole Award, when he was placed on the pole after qualifying was rained out, and the grid was set by combined practice times. In fact, the only award Pruett didn't win was the Flowmaster American Thunder Challenge Award, which will roll over to the next Trans-Am Series race in Miami. Since the award wasn't claimed at Road America, it will be worth $6,000 in the MotoRock Miami 100.
Said admitted he tried to challenge Pruett, and in fact ran nose to tail with the two-time Series champion early in the event. However, in the end, Said didn't have enough car to make the pass.
"I used my car up pretty well all race," said Said, who earned his fourth podium finish this year in four starts. "We are a little disappointed. This is my last Trans-Am race this season, and I really wanted to go out with a win. We also wanted to put on a good show for (sponsor) GE Access. They're local and we wanted to give them a win here. I tried to get up close to Pruett to a put a fender on him, but we just came up a little bit short."
Miller said if qualifying hadn't been rained out, Sunday's results might have been much different. Miller started fourth.
"I think not having the chance to qualify played a role in our race today," said Miller. "We've had a good car all weekend and would have likely had a solid qualifying effort. We basically finished where we started; it's so tough to pass on this track. You get one foot off line here and the car just sails."
The race ran in one hour and 15.342 minutes at an average speed of 77.342 miles per hour. Pruett set the track race lap record of 1:12.121 minutes at an average 82.212 miles per hour. The race was slowed by the caution flag from laps 44 through 47. Miller and Said each earned one bonus point for being within five seconds of leader Pruett on the Fast Five Lap, lap 12 here.
Today's MotoRock Mile High 100 will air on tape-delayed basis tomorrow (Monday, Sept. 1) at 1:30 EDT on SPEED Channel. The next race for the Trans-Am Series, the MotoRock Miami 100, Round 10 of the 2003 MotoRock Trans-Am Tour championship is scheduled for the weekend of Sept. 26-28, as part of the Grand Prix of Americas in downtown Miami.
Notebook: MotoRock LLC has signed a multi-year agreement to become title sponsor of the Trans-Am Series. The Series will now be known as the MotoRock Trans-Am Tour for the BFGoodrich Tires Cup. The agreement is a continuation of MotoRock's title sponsorship of Sunday's MotoRock Mile High 100, part this weekend's Grand Prix of Denver. The announcement was made by MotoRock Chairman Jamie Rose, Trans-Am Series principal Paul Gentilozzi and Trans-Am Series Executive Director John Clagett.
With the title sponsorship, the Series announced it would run its first event in conjunction with MotoRock this year, with a return to the Grand Prix Americas in Miami, Sept. 26-28, along with the Champ Car World Series. The added Miami round brings the total races on this year's schedule to 11.
Under the new agreement, MotoRock will present cutting-edge music and ambient programming as part of racing weekends. The Grand Prix Americas event will feature Elton John, with another act to be announced later.
"MotoRock is a new generation of pop culture that blends cars, stars and guitars," said Rose. "MotoRock is a series of live events that showcase the excitement of motorsports, music and lifestyle, while delivering a unique new form of broadcast entertainment programming. It's the new breed of speed.
"By integrating music, lifestyle and entertainment, MotoRock hopes to bring a new audience to the thrill of motorsports, as well as a dramatically enhanced opportunity for media partners and corporate sponsors at every level," concluded Rose.
"This agreement shows a significant change in direction for the Trans-Am Series and represents an important step forward for the Series," said Clagett. "Pairing popular music with the Trans-Am Series is a perfect fit, as both are American institutions. We are proud to be a part of this venture.
"We're also looking forward to returning to Miami," added Clagett. "The South Florida market is a perfect fit for the Trans-Am Series. The location is ideal and boasts some of the most avid racing fans in North America. The event was extraordinarily exciting last year, and we expect, with the addition of MotoRock, this year's event will be even better.
* Scott Pruett's chances to clinch his third Trans-Am championship evaporated Saturday at Denver when qualifying was rained out. Pruett, driver of the No. 7 MotoRock Jaguar XKR, had to earn maximum points this weekend, 36 (two points for the pole, one point for leading the most laps, two points for leading a lap, one point for the Fast Five bonus, and 30 points for winning the race), while his closest pursuer, Johnny Miller (No. 64 Eaton Cutler-Hammer Jaguar XKR) would have had to finish last and earn no bonus points. As no qualifying points were awarded, Pruett will have to carry his championship hopes to Round 10, the MotoRock Miami 100, part of the Grand Prix Americas, on the Miami street course.
* With his 21st career victory, Pruett moved into a tie for fourth on the all-time Trans-Am Series win list with Bob Tullius. Interestingly, Tullius won the 1978 Drivers' Championship and Manufacturers' Championship for Jaguar, the British carmaker's first of three titles. Pruett clinched the manufacturers' title for Jaguar last weekend at Road America.
* Pruett, Boris Said (No. 33 ACS/GE Access/Sun Microsystems Ford Mustang) and Miller, the top-three finishers in today's race will receive a special bonus from MotoRock for the upcoming MotoRock Miami 100, during the Grand Prix Americas. Second- and third-place finishers Said and Miller each earned two floor seat tickets for the Saturday concert, featuring Elton John, while winner Pruett grabbed a special invitation to a meet-and-greet session with the "Rocket Man."
* Pruett has been nominated for the third quarter voting for the SPEED Channel Presents the DRIVER OF THE YEAR award. The two-time Trans-Am champion and current Trans-Am Series points leader joins an elite group of eight drivers chosen from different forms of North American auto racing. In its 37th year, the third-quarter DRIVER OF THE YEAR's, will be determined by an independent vote of the 18-member panel of blue ribbon auto racing journalists and broadcasters and one vote based on the cumulative tally of fans voting at www.speedtv.com. At the end of the year, a special and separate vote will be held for the 2003 DRIVER OF THE YEAR. The winner of the quarterly voting will be given a trophy and a Maurice Lacroix Swiss Watch, the official watch of the DRIVER OF THE YEAR, to commemorate the honor.
* Miller has been placed on the "short list" of four drivers to drive the No. 4 Kodak Pontiac Grand Prix for Morgan-McClure Motorsports full time in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series next season. Miller drove for Morgan-McClure twice this season, finishing 24th at Infineon Raceway in June and 36th at Watkins Glen after running in the top five during the second half of the event. There is a survey on Morgan-McClure Motorsports' web site (www.morganmcclure.com) asking "Who has been your favorite driver in the Kodak Pontiacs this season?" in which Miller is one of the choices.
* Sunday's Trans-Am Tour autograph session featured Denver street magician named, interestingly enough, Stuart E. Hayner. The magician sawed Trans-Am driver Stu Hayner in half. Hayner, the driver, said that Hayner, the magician, is a distant relative.
* Bobby Sak, driver of the No. 10 Revolution Motorsports Chevrolet Corvette, proposed to his girlfriend Jenny Boyd this weekend at Denver. Word is that Jenny gave Bobby the "green flag," although at date hasn't been announced.
* The fastest laps set in this weekend's three practice sessions were all under the track qualifying record (1:13.612) set by Hayner last year. Interestingly, the fastest race lap (1:12.261) also set by Hayner last year, was faster than the qualifying lap.
* The cars of Miller, Marvin Jones (No. 45 Margraf Racing/M&L Jones Racing, LLC/BG Products Qvale Mangusta) and Mike Davis (No. 11 ACS/GE Access/Sun Microsystems Ford Mustang) to part in Trans-Am Revealed on Saturday at Denver. Through the "Trans-Am Revealed" program, teams selected by Technical Director David King are required to remove all body panels from their cars prior to the race to allow other teams and the Trans-Am Series technical team to inspect the cars' chassis. The object of the program is to remove any secrecy, regarding design as it relates to chassis and hardware configurations.