PRUETT RUSTY NO MORE; WINS GRAND PRIX OF ST. PETERSBURG -
FEBRUARY 23, 2003
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. ‹ Scott Pruett proved he hadn¹t lost anything in the
seven years he¹s been away from the Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich Tires
Cup by becoming the first repeat winner of the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg
Sunday at the temporary combined street and airport circuit in downtown St.
Pruett won the 1987 edition of the this race, run on another street circuit
around Tropicana Field, en route to one of his two Trans-Am championships.
Driving the No. 7 The Jaguar R Performance Jaguar XKR, Pruett simply
dominated the race, winning the pole, leading the most laps, setting the
fastest race lap and beating Boris Said, in the No. 33 ACS Express Menards
Ford Mustang, by 1.296 seconds. Johnny Miller, driving the No. 64 Eaton
Cutler-Hammer AutomationDirect Jaguar was third, ahead of Paul Gentilozzi,
in the No. 3 The Jaguar R Performance Jaguar XKR and Stu Hayner, No. 2
Trenton Forging Chevrolet Corvette.
Pruett won the BFGoodrich Tires Take Control Award for leading the most laps
and the newly announced $2,000 Flowmaster American Thunder Challenge for his
³I didn¹t have to worry about Boris,² said Pruett, who returned to the
Trans-Am Series this year after his last full season in 1994. ³I saw him
coming and we wanted to keep a good pace. This Jaguar just didn¹t miss a
beat all day long. When I wanted a little bit more, it had it in it. It¹s a
³This is just a great way to come back,² he added. ³(Team owner) Paul
Gentilozzi and all the Rocketsports team just gave me a great drive. I said
I was a rusty nail on Friday. I guess maybe I¹m just a little bit tarnished,
but not rusty any more.²
Said drove from dead last on the grid after his qualifying time was
nullified for a rule infraction found in post-qualifying inspection, and put
on a driving clinic on the fast 1.806-mile circuit.
Said said he enjoyed his drive through the field.
³This is the best street course I¹ve ever been on,² said Said. ³The crowd
was great. Scott is just a really great driver. I don¹t know if we could
have caught him in the end.²
Miller, too, had his own fight to the front, after losing several positions
on a mid-race restart.
³I think we were both pedaling really hard,² said Miller. ³On the first
restart, the tires just got covered in sand and I lost a couple positions,
so we just had to go for it. It was just an absolute blast there at the
Pruett led from the pole, but lost the lead briefly to Gentilozzi on lap 14,
only to take it back for good on the following lap.
From there, Pruett ran unchallenged to the checkered flag.
The race ran in a one hour, 16 minutes and six seconds at an average speed
of 78.314 miles per hour.
The caution flag waved twice: once when Bill Bentley (No. 46 Bentley
Architects & Engineers Chevrolet Camaro) hit the wall and the second time
for a newly Series-mandated competition caution.
Pruett set the fastest race lap of 1:14.634 at 87.113 miles per hour on lap
With the victory, Pruett takes the lead in the championship with 35 points.
Said, Gentilozzi and Miller, who earned bonus points on the inaugural Fast
Five Lap, complete second through fourth in the points chase, ahead of
Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich Tires Cup Results
Grand Prix of St. Petersburg
St. Petersburg, Fla.
1. (7) Scott Pruett, Jaguar XKR, 55
2. (33) Boris Said, Ford Mustang, 55
3. (64) Johnny Miller, Jaguar XKR, 55
4. (3) Paul Gentilozzi, Jaguar XKR, 55
5. (2) Stuart Hayner, Chevrolet Corvette, 55
6. (8) Jorge Diaz, Jr., Jaguar XKR, 55
7. (10) Bobby Sak, Chevrolet Corvette, 55
8. (18) Jon Chevy Leavy, Chevrolet Camaro, 55 16:44.733
9. (12) Michael Lewis, Jaguar XKR, 55
10. (99) Paul Menard, Ford Mustang, 55
11. (6) Greg Pickett, Jaguar XKR, 54
12. (5) Tomy Drissi, Jaguar XKR, 54.
13 (49) Randy Ruhlman, Chevrolet Corvette, 54
14 (07) Claudio Burtin, Panoz Esperante, 53.
15. (59) Simon Gregg, Chevrolet Corvette, 51
16. (86) John Baucom, Jaguar XKR, 37, engine.
17. (46) Bill Bentley, Chevrolet Camaro, 22, contact.
18. (83) Max Lagod, Chevrolet Camaro, 17, transmission
¶ Time of race: 1 hour, 16 minutes, 6 seconds.
¶ Margin of victory: 1.296 seconds.
¶ Winner's average speed: 87.113 mph.
¶ Caution flags: 2 for 7 laps.
¶ Lead changes: 2 among 2 drivers.
¶ Lap leaders: Pruett, 1-14; Gentilozz, 14-15; Pruett, 15-55.
¶ 1, Pruett, 35. 2, Said, 28. 3, Miller. 27, Gentillozzi 27. 5, Hayner 21.
6, Diaz 20. 7, Sak 19. 8, Leavy. 18, Lewis 17. 10, Menard 16.
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. ‹ Scott Pruett won the Jaguar Pole for Sunday¹s
Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich Tires Cup race, part of the Grand Prix of
St. Petersburg, Saturday.
Pruett, driving the No. 7 Jaguar R Performance Jaguar XKR, lapped the
1.806-mile 14-turn temporary combined street and airport course in 1:14.545
minutes at an average speed of 85.961 miles per hour to record his 21st
Pruett¹s teammate and car owner, Paul Gentilozzi (No. 3 Jaguar R Performance
Jaguar XKR), was second fastest at 85.944 mph, ahead of fellow Rocketsports
Racing driver Johnny Miller (No. 64 Eaton/Cutler-Hammer/Automation Direct
Jaguar XKR), who ripped off a 85.222-mph effort on the final lap of his
Boris Said qualified fourth in the No. 33 Menard¹s Ford Mustang, but was
forced to start at the back of the grid due to a rule infraction found in
post-qualifying technical inspection. Said¹s teammate, Paul Menard, started
next to Said
Stu Hayner (No. 2 Trenton Forging Chevrolet Corvette) was elevated to fourth
as a result of the penalty, while Tomy Drissi (No. 5 Phone Booth The Movie
Jaguar XKR) started fifth Sunday.
Pruett became the first winner of this year¹s new Jaguar Pole Award, a
performance-based initiative that rewards drivers who win the pole at each
of the Trans-Am Series¹ 11 events this season. Pruett, who won his most
recent pole during his last full Trans-Am season in 1994, received a key,
which, at the culmination of the season, he will use to attempt to open the
door to a 2004 Jaguar XK8. If the key opens the vehicle, Pruett will win a
one-year lease on the car.
³It was good that Jaguar is continuing on with the tradition they¹ve already
put in place,² said Pruett, who won the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in 1987
and was the only defending winner in the field. ³It¹s easy for a driver when
you have a good car. I was finding my way during that first (practice)
session, kind of like a good old rusty nail, but yesterday afternoon we
started feeling more confident. Hopefully we can keep that roll going.
³It¹s fun to be back, especially with Jaguar. My heritage goes back a long
time with them, back to the early 1990s with Tom Walkinshaw. It¹s good to be
Pruett further credited spec tire supplier BFGoodrich for his fast lap.
³I have to couple the car with what BFGoodrich has done with the radial,²
said Pruett. ³The last time I ran here was on bias-ply tires from a
different manufacturer. I have to believe that has a lot to do with the
Jaguar North America announced Friday it will return as an engine supplier
for the Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich Tires Cup. It will mark the first
time since 1981 that a Jaguar engine has competed in America¹s oldest
continuously running road racing series.
The 4.5-liter, four-valve, fuel-injected engine, designated the AJ-V-8, is
derived from the lightweight 4.2-liter dual-overhead-cam engine found in all
of the Jaguar¹s V-8 powered street cars.
The announcement is part of an overall move by the Trans-Am Series to
encourage the use of multi-valve engines.
The engine will be developed this season by Rocketsports Racing¹s multi-car
team, which includes team owner and three-time Trans-Am champion Gentilozzi,
who will race on a part-time basis this year; two-time titleholder Pruett,
who returns to the Trans-Am Series full-time this year; Miller and Drissi.
The engine is expected to make 650 horsepower and will rev to 9,000 rpms.
A new Jaguar XKR body is also being created.
The company¹s Jaguar XKR, which comprises seven of this weekend¹s 19-car
field, is powered by a corporate-derived V-8.
BFGoodrich Tires, presenting sponsor of the Trans-Am Series, brought 640
g-Force Radial racing tires to St. Petersburg in two dry compounds‹medium
and hard‹and one full-wet compound.
According to Gary Blalock, tire designer for BFGoodrich Tires, all
competitors used the medium 200 compound g-Force Radials in Sunday¹s
Trans-Am Series race. BFGoodrich brings two tire compounds to every Trans-Am
race‹75 (hard) and 200 (medium)‹plus a full-wet, treaded tire.
2002 BBS Most Improved Driver Randy Ruhlman and his wife, Cristi, celebrated
their 10th wedding anniversary Thursday. Cristi also handles public
relations and marketing responsibilities for Ruhlman.
When is a new race an old race? Although Sunday¹s race was an inaugural for
the Champ Car World Series, the Trans-Am Series has raced in St. Petersburg
eight times between 1986 and 1997. However, this year¹s 1.806-mile street
course around Bayfront Center is brand new. The Series previously raced on a
course around Tropicana Field and one adjacent the Renaissance Venoy Hotel.
Bill Bentley of Longwood, Fla., who drover the No. 46 Chevrolet Camaro
Sunday, hopes to fulfill his dream of running full time in the Trans-Am
Series. Bentley, who owns an architecture and engineering firm, competed in
several GT-1 races last season, and finished fourth in an SCCA national
event at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International.
Trans-Am Series drivers Miller, Drissi, Stu Hayner, Randy Ruhlman, Bobby
Sak, along with St. Petersburg service organization Ye Mystique Krewe,
visited sick children at All Children¹s Hospital Saturday. The drivers
visited with, and signed autographs for 20 children ranging in age from
4-14. An additional 20 children, in the isolation ward, were presented
autographed hero cards and memorabilia.
The ³Krewe,² formed in February of 2002, dress up as 17th Century Spanish
mariners. Its mission is to provide charitable service to St. Petersburg
A group of fifth graders from Northside Christian School in St. Petersburg
visited the Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich Tires Cup paddock Friday
afternoon, Feb. 23 as guests of Smith Fence.
The children colored in a drawing of a Trans-Am Series Corvette, and took
part in a contest judged by Revolution Racing drivers Hayner (No. 02 Trenton
Forging Chevrolet Corvette) and Sak (No. 10 Chevrolet Corvette).
Whitney Nasse, Christiana Mastry and J.D. Anderson won the coloring contest
and took home Revolution Racing T-shirts.
Ruhlman (No. 49 Preformed Line Products Chevrolet Corvette), Menard, Miller
and Drissi joined Hayner and Sak, signing autographs for the eager youth.