TRANS-AM: BFGoodrich Trans-Am, Watkins Glen Preview
7 August 1998(GREENVILLE, SC) --- The NTB Trans-Am series will support the Winston Cup cars this weekend at Watkins Glen International raceway, August 6-8. To meet the demands of the high-speed track, BFGoodrich Tires will utilize the technology of the BFGoodrich g-Force T/A 75 compound.
Recognized as the birthplace of modern-era American road racing, Watkins Glen is one of the most well known road courses in the country. Before hosting the Winston Cup cars, Watkins Glen was home to the Formula One U.S. Grand Prix.
Watkins Glen is also one of the oldest circuits on the Trans-Am schedule. The tour has been racing at 'The Glen' since 1968. A new winner is promised here this weekend, however, as no active Trans-Am driver has ever won on this track.
Measured at 2.45 miles long, with seven turns, Watkins Glen is one of the fastest and most exciting tracks in the country. Drivers can easily come down the front straight three and four wide to funnel down into the fast, downhill first turn. They then power back up through the gears and up the hill through turn two, onto the long back straight. The tricky inner loop is next and several drivers will take their turn shooting across the grass and back onto the track before making the right-hand turn (turn five) heading back down the hill through the left-hander and back onto the front straight.
For the first time this season, BFGoodrich Tires will mandate a compound to be used by all competitors, making only the harder of the two compounds (75s) available to teams.
"So far this season, we've offered two compounds to all of our teams," said BFGoodrich Tires Director of Motorsports Herb Johnson, "the softer (200) compound and our hard (75) compound. Watkins Glen, however, is the fastest track on the circuit that we race, with pole speeds in excess of the 120-mile-an-hour mark. Given those conditions, using the 75 compound is the wisest decision."
To date, most competitors have chosen the softer compound to keep pace with the front runners.
"The Rocketsports team, and a handful of others, have been able to lead the charge using the 200s," Johnson continued. "This puts pressure on the rest of the field to do the same despite the fact that there are significant differences in equipment and car setup among the teams. Our hope is to equalize the field a bit with this decision and to promote more exciting racing action."
"The BFGoodrich g-Force tires are good tires," said points-leader Paul Gentilozzi following the Trois Rivieres race, "but when you have as much horsepower as we do on these Trans-Am cars, you're going to generate a lot of heat in the tires. The wise decision is to use the harder compound."
Gentilozzi won his sixth race of the 1998 season last weekend on the Canadian course. Chasing him this weekend at Watkins Glen, however, will be a host of competitors making late-season charges. Among those will be the second and third place finishers from the last two races: Bruce Qvale and Chris Neville.
"As the season progresses, the battle is certainly tightening up," said Qvale. "Chris and I are battling for the Rookie-of-the-Year title and chasing Paul at the same time. Each race we get a little closer. Maybe this weekend we'll be able to give him a real run for his money."
Practice and qualifying for the Watkins Glen event will begin Thursday, August 6 with the race scheduled for Saturday, August 8. The race will be televised the same day, at 8:00 p.m. on Speedvision.
BFGoodrich Tires has won a number of racing victories and championships in the three decades since the company first entered racing, including: the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans, the 24 Hours of Daytona, IMSA GTP prototype competition, IMSA GTO, the Baja 500 and Baja 1000, SODA off-road competition and SCORE championships.