Lexington, Ohio: (August 25th, 2001): Leighton Reese drove the Banner Engineering Corvette hard today at the Mid-Ohio Trans-Am Series race for the BF Goodrich Cup and wound up a strong 4th for his efforts. In a race dominated by Paul Gentilozzi ...
Lexington, Ohio: (August 25th, 2001): Leighton Reese drove the Banner Engineering Corvette hard today at the Mid-Ohio Trans-Am Series race for the BF Goodrich Cup and wound up a strong 4th for his efforts. In a race dominated by Paul Gentilozzi from the start, what went on behind Gentilozzi's Jaguar was anything but dull.
"It was a pretty exciting race from where I was sitting," said an elated Reese after guiding the Banner Engineering Corvette home in 4th. "We were about 200 to 300 RPM short at the end of the strait, but overall the car was awesome today!"
The race started with an unusual twist as race officials added an extra pace lap and wound up having the entire field stop back on the pit strait after the 1st pace lap. Then a group of officials went onto the track and checked each car. Looking for mechanical irregularities was the intent, but they found no one in non compliance . When the race did get going it was madness right from the start.
"I got an awesome start," Leighton said. "But got hung up behind Archer and Ave went past on the inside with a slide pass and Lewis pulled off a great slide pass on the outside. I thought to myself, call the undertaker! But we all got through it ok!"
Friday's Fast-Five qualifying session was an indication that Saturday's Mid-Ohio Trans-Am race would be a hot one. Leighton Reese drove the Banner Engineering Corvette hard and wound up as the sixth fastest qualifier, just missing the fast five. How just missed? Positions 2 through 9 are only 3 tenths of a second apart and Gentilozzi's pole time is less than a heart beat quicker!
>From the pace lap Leighton had Johnny Millers Jag all over him, and at one point really all over him. It seems that the Banner Corvette needed taller gearing for the straight and was hitting the rev limiter. With Johnny right behind him Leighton's Corvette burped on the limiter and Miller slammed hard into him. Not by any means an overly aggressive move by John. In fact he was totally shocked when it happened.
Miller called into his crew and told them, "I just hit Leighton going about 170 and both rear wheels came off the ground!"
Leighton expressed amazement that he didn't spin, but didn't fault Miller at all. "He raced me tight and clean the whole time and that was not really his fault," Reese explained. "We were so close at times it was really great. On one occasion we came into 5 side by side, no one giving an inch! Then we went through the esses side by side and we each gave each other racing room on the outside. I just managed to squeak past! It was great and the fans were loving it out there!"
The Banner Engineering Corvette was handling well all race long as Leighton posted his fastest lap on lap 42 at a 125.09. The driver, crew and especially crew chief Joe Kantarik were thrilled with the race and are on a high right now!
"Leighton drove her hard today," smiled crew Chief Joe Kantarik. "We closed the gap on our goal of moving Leighton back into the top ten in points where we belong. Pretty good considering he missed the first three races of the season."
The team headed home to Minnesota after the race and will continue their quest to move up in the drivers championship standings for the BF Goodrich Cup when they will head to picturesque Laguna Seca on the Monterey peninsula on September 9th. Leighton has moved up to 11th in the drivers standings with 99 points and is 6 points behind 10th place Tomy Drissi (105) and 11 points behind Bob Ruman in 9th spot.