Automatic Racing: Hot, Hot, Hot in Alabama LEEDS, Ala. -- Automatic Racing extended their points lead on Saturday during a sweltering KONI Challenge Grand Sport Race at Barber Motorsports Park. With their fifth-place run in the No. 09...
Automatic Racing: Hot, Hot, Hot in Alabama
LEEDS, Ala. -- Automatic Racing extended their points lead on Saturday during a sweltering KONI Challenge Grand Sport Race at Barber Motorsports Park. With their fifth-place run in the No. 09 Imported Car Store/Rogue Engineering/LandAir/Engine Music Studios BMW M3, Jep Thornton and Jeff Segal have now finished in the top five in all five races this season.
The heat wasn't enough to keep Thornton from doing a little singing and salsa dancing in the pits, after commenting that "it was a Buster Poindexter kind of race: 'Hot, Hot, Hot!'" In addition to extending their string of top-five finishes, the race has also increased Thornton and Segal's championship points lead from 16 to 20.
"We're back in familiar territory with the 55 and 37 car in the running with us," said Thornton. "I feel better with a 20-point lead but it's a long season and there are still five more races. Anything can happen; we've got to protect our lead and be disciplined."
"I've got to say a big thanks to the crew," added Segal. "I got out of the pits and saw the 18 car in front of me, and couldn't believe we had made up that much time in the pits. They did a great job today."
Charlie Putman and Charles Espenlaub had a great weekend in the No. 91 Automatic Racing BMW M3, finishing 8th in the midst of their whirlwind weekend. After qualifying at Mid-Ohio Saturday morning for World Challenge they flew to Barber, arriving about an hour before the start of the race.
Putman drove for over an hour at the green flag, moving up five positions before pitting to hand over to Espenlaub, who had not been on track all weekend. It didn't stop him from getting up to speed quickly, though, and he continued Putman's push for the front, eventually finishing 8th.
"We've been aiming for a top 10," commented Putman. "With all of the coming and going and the lack of practice, we're happy with our 8th-place finish. The team has been great; they've made it possible for us to do this with our crazy schedules."
"Charlie left me a great car," said Espenlaub. "I was hoping I would go out on a yellow so I could get a few slow laps in, but luckily it didn't take too long to get up to speed. It just took a while to get acclimated to where everything was inside the car."
Steve Cameron ran a solid fifth place in the No. 99 Mobile-Shop.com BMW M3, a great follow-up to his sixth-place qualifying. Unfortunately, Cameron and teammate Rob Finlay were forced to retire after an hour and a half of racing. Cameron was hit by another car during his stint, and ensuing mechanical problems brought Finlay into the pits early. "We started good, but I got hit early and I think it knocked the alignment out," said a disappointed Cameron.
Automatic Racing will try to further extend their points lead in three weeks at Iowa Speedway. Keep up with the chase for the championship online at www.AutomaticRacing.com.