Kendall Fastest Qualifier, Teammate on Pole
RENO, Nev. (AP) _ Trans-Am series leader Tommy Kendall added three more points to his total Saturday by posting the fastest qualifying time in his bid for a second straight driver’s championship.
His speed of 76.266 mph on the 1.3-mile temporary course at the Reno Hilton was 0.5 mph faster than Paul Gentilozzi, who placed the lone Chevrolet Camaro amid the Ford Mustang-dominated top six starters.
``I actually made a mistake. I spun the car and the tires got hot,″ Gentilozzi said.
He posted the quickest time in practice on Friday over a tight 11-turn course that all of the drivers agree is a huge challenge for the final race of the season.
``I didn’t deserve it. I guess I was less awful than the rest of them,″ Kendall said of his qualifying run.
Dorsey Schroeder, the only other driver with a mathematical chance of taking the driver’s championship, was third-fastest, followed by Gloy Racing teammate Brian Simo and Boris Said, Kendall’s Roush Racing stablemate.
Because of the Trans-Am’s unusual inverted start, that will put Said in the pole position on Sunday, next to Simo. Kendall will be fifth on the grid, next to Tom Gloy. Schroeder’s and Simo’s boss qualified sixth-fastest.
Schroeder needs a victory to have any hope for the driver’s title. A checker also will put $50,000 in his pocket for winning the Harrah’s Road to Reno bonus awarded to any driver who wins at Phoenix, Watkins Glen and here.
``We’ve got to win, no matter what,″ he said. ``We don’t need this car the rest of the year.″
Gentilozzi, who’s 11th in the point standings going into his last Trans-Am race, also is looking for a car-be-darned victory.
``We’re going to race really hard. We want to win this race, and I don’t even like the car,″ he said.
Between the competitiveness and the challenging course, Schroeder offered a suggestion for Saturday’s final practice session: ``We’re going to take the nose section and the tail section off and see what it’s going to be like at race time.″
Kendall, who leads Schroeder by 16 points, needs a finish of sixth or better on Sunday for his third driver’s championship.