SCC: Birmingham: Round five preview

Plumb, Canney Look to Close Grand-Am KONI Challenge Series Grand Sport Point Lead Saturday at Barber Rehagen Racing duo only 13 points behind Automatic Racing's Segal and Thornton DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 16, 2008) Hugh Plumb is the only...

Plumb, Canney Look to Close Grand-Am KONI Challenge Series Grand Sport Point Lead Saturday at Barber

Rehagen Racing duo only 13 points behind Automatic Racing's Segal and Thornton

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 16, 2008) Hugh Plumb is the only driver this season to lead laps in more than one Grand-Am KONI Challenge Series Grand Sport (GS) race. And with co-driver Mike Canney, Plumb hopes to return to victory lane this weekend in KONI Challenge competition, as the GS class reaches the halfway point of its season with the two-and-a-half hour race Saturday at Barber Motorsports Park near Birmingham, Ala.

Plumb and Canney share the No. 60 Rehagen Racing Ford Mustang GT and are currently third in the driver standings, 13 points (119-106) behind series leaders Jep Thornton and Jeff Segal, and their car is second in the team standings. Plumb and Canney have three top 10s in four starts, including a second-place finish last month at Mosport International Raceway.

But Plumb knows his way around Barber, too. He won the 2006 KONI Challenge Series Street Tuner (ST) race at the 2.3-mile, 16-turn track with his brother Matt. Plumb will look to add to that list and give Canney his first KONI Challenge victory in his first full season.

"Barber has some really technical corners and the surface is just fantastically smooth, but the layout doesn't really let our Mustang stretch its legs so it might not be our best track of the year," said Plumb, who finished ninth at Barber last year. "Still, KONI Challenge racing can certainly make for some surprises, and we keep improving what we are doing with our setups so we're not giving anything up quite yet!"

While Plumb and Canney have been among the most consistent pairs this season, they're still chasing Thornton and Segal, who have finished in the top five in all four of their starts. The pair will drive one of three Automatic Racing BMW M3s at Barber, and look to add another victory after winning in May at Lime Rock Park. Automatic Racing was one of the first two teams (BGB Motorsports was the other) to test at Barber when the track opened in 2003, and will again be searching for its first victory there. Also running are Steve Cameron and Rob Finlay - who co-won the GS race at Barber in 2006 - in the No. 99 BMW M3 and David Russell, Charles Espenlaub and Charlie Putman in the No. 91 BMW M3.

BGB Motorsports is the only team with multiple victories this season. Tim Traver has two victories - including this month's The Glen 200 at Watkins Glen International with David Murry - and Craig Stanton's is tied for fifth in the driver points. Traver and Murry - who has two GS victories at Barber, including a 2004 triumph with Stanton in a Porsche 996 - drive the No. 38 Performance Drink Porsche 997. Stanton and Jon Miller will drive the No. 83 Performance Drink Porsche 997.

TRG brings two Porsche 997s to Barber looking to return to victory lane at the track for the second straight season. Peter Ludwig and Scott Schroeder will share the No. 41 Carlsen Porsche/Cohen Financial Porsche 997 - which took Andy Lally and Ted Ballou to victory last season - and Duncan Ende and Spencer Pumpelly will drive the No. 39 DigiTrust Group/Adam's Polishes Porsche 997.

Atlanta-based Kinetic Motorsports will bring three BMW M3s to the track, with several Atlanta-based drivers in those seats. Team co-owners Nic Jonsson and Russell Smith - both of Buford, Ga. - will drive the No. 79 BMW M3, with Dacula, Ga., driver Andy Lally and Covington, Ga., driver Todd Lamb in the No. 87 BMW M3. Tom Long and Derek Whitis will drive the No. 80 BMW M3. Another Atlanta-based team, Hyper Sport, will see Atlanta native and team owner Joe Foster sharing the No. 55 Ford Mustang GT with Scott Maxwell. The pair won at Mosport after starting on the pole, and are tied with Stanton for fifth in the driver standings.

In addition to Plumb and Canney's No. 60 Ford Mustang GT, Rehagen Racing will bring a fleet six Mustangs to the track. Dean Martin and Jack Roush Jr. will drive the No. 59 ROUSH Performance Products/Valvoline Ford Mustang, while Ray Mason and Larry Rehagen will drive the No. 52 Columbus Truck & Equipment Ford Mustang GT. Jim Click and Mike McGovern will share the No. 150 Jim Click Racing/Valvoline Ford Mustang GT.

The Motorsport Technology Group is bringing three cars to the track. Jean-Francois Dumoulin will lead the Blackforest Motorsports two-car camp, as the Quebec native co-won the 2003 GS race. Bill Auberlen, who won in Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 GT competition at Barber in 2004, will lead the two-car Turner Motorsport team back to action, driving the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M3 with Matthew Alhadeff which finished second at Watkins Glen on July 5. The team's No. 97 Turner Motorsport BMW M3, with Don Salama and Bryan Ortiz behind the wheel, is the only GS car this season with multiple pole positions.

Other two-car teams include C-MAX/Unitech Racing, Ranger Sports Racing and Playboy Racing/Fall-Line, whose No. 46 BMW M3 will be co-piloted by Mike Borkowski and Tommy Constantine. Single-car entries will be fielded by Cardiosport Motorsports, CMA Motorsports, JBS Motorsports, Hickham Motorsports and Maxwell Paper Racing.

The two-and-a-half hour Grand-Am KONI Challenge Series race will start at 2:15 p.m. CT Saturday.

KONI CHALLENGE SERIES GS WEEKEND SCHEDULE (ALL TIMES CENTRAL)

- Thursday: KONI Challenge Promoter Practice Day (Between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.)

- Friday: KONI Challenge Practice (9:20-10 a.m.); KONI Challenge Practice (1:15-1:55 p.m.); KONI Challenge Qualifying (4:40-4:55 p.m.)

- Saturday: KONI Challenge Final Practice (11:20-11:35 a.m.); KONI Challenge Race (2:15 p.m.)

2008 IN REVIEW

Through the first four races of the 2008 Grand-Am KONI Challenge Series season, different driving pairs and manufacturers have won races in one of the most diversified forms of racing in North America. And with that comes a tight point battle that is sure to stay that way until the final checkered flag falls in October.

Craig Stanton, the 2004 Grand Sport champion, and Tim Traver started the season off right with an overall and GS victory in the Fresh From Florida 200 at Daytona International Speedway in January, as Stanton moved from fourth to first in the waning laps after the top three cars ahead of him suffered from mechanical problems. The pair drove to victory in the No. 83 BGB Motorsports Porsche 997. In the Street Tuner class, Quebec native Nick Wittmer and Glenn Bocchino notched the first victory for the i-MOTO Racing team, guiding the No. 31 Acura RSX to victory for a one-two team finish. However, the top two teams were docked five points for a non-compliant fuel tank.

The second round at Lime Rock Park in Connecticut was split into two class races, with Canadian Jamie Holtom and Yankee Eric Curran taking the victory in the ST race and in the process the point lead in the No. 01 Georgian Bay Motorsports Chevrolet Cobalt SS. Defending GS driver champions Jeff Segal and Jep Thornton earned Automatic Racing's first-ever victory in the No. 09 BMW M3.

At Mosport International Raceway, Scott Maxwell raced through the field to give himself and Joe Foster a come-from-behind victory in GS in the No. 55 Hyper Sport Ford Mustang GT. A fifth-place finish put Segal and Thornton - tied with 89 points - up by 12. Meanwhile, the Curran-Holtom pair backed up their Lime Rock victory with another at Mosport.

Chuck Hemmingson and Kristian Skavnes won at Mid-Ohio in their No. 111 ICY/Phoenix Racing Subaru Legacy, an ST-race only, as rain fell for most of the event. The No. 196 Mini Cooper S won its first pole with Owen Trinkler behind the wheel.

Traver and David Murry won at Watkins Glen International in the No. 38 BGB Motorsports Porsche 997, beating Bill Auberlen and Matthew Alhadeff to the line in a race that was full of scrapping and paint swapping. Meanwhile, Segal and Thornton's lead ballooned to 14 in the championship. In ST, defending series champs Adam Burrows and Trevor Hopwood won their first career race in the No. 74 Compass360 Racing Acura TSX, holding off Bob Beede and Bob Endicott at the stripe. Hemmingson and Skavnes picked up the point lead with a fifth-place finish in their secondary car, as their primary car was involved in a practice incident. Curran and Holtom did not score any points as a broken rear axle forced them to retire early and outside the points.

So far this season, 110 drivers have been credited with points in GS and 117 drivers with points in ST.

NEWS & NOTES

- Atlanta Marks Home Base for Most Drivers, Teams: It's a two-hour drive from Barber Motorsports Park, but most drivers and teams from the Atlanta area call Barber their home facility. Among them are Andrew Davis (Bogart), Ryan Eversley (Winder), James Gue (Alpharetta), David Murry (Cumming), Spencer Pumpelly (Suwanee), Joe Foster (Atlanta), Bryan Sellers (Auburn), Nic Jonsson and Russell Smith (Buford), Andy Lally (Dacula) and Todd Lamb (Covington). Kinetic Motorsports is based in Buford, Ga.

- Pritiko Joins Ranger Sports Racing: Canadian Matt Pritiko, who regularly runs in the Street Tuner (ST) class, will make his GS debut with Ranger Sports Racing this weekend. The Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based team is owned by Barry Ellis, with whom Pritiko will co-drive. "This is the time of year where we start looking at a program for 2009, and it was the perfect opportunity for me to get in a competitive GS class car without impacting my current schedule with Predator Auto Sport," Pritiko said.

- Borkowski, Constantine Among Several Pulling Double Duty: Mike Borkowski and Tommy Constantine will be among the drivers pulling double duty this weekend. The two are driving the No. 46 Playboy Racing/Fall-Line BMW M3 in the KONI Challenge GS class and will share the No. 53 Playboy Racing BMW M6 in the Rolex Series GT class. Both drivers have done double duty at Barber before, and both know they'll have to stay hydrated, as this weekend's forecast tops 90 degrees each day. Others running both the KONI Challenge and Rolex Series races this weekend include Jean-Francois Dumoulin, Tom Nastasi, Jeff Segal, Darren Law, Spencer Pumpelly, Joe Foster, Joey Hand, Bryan Sellers, Nic Jonsson, Craig Stanton, Andy Lally and Bill Auberlen.

KONI CHALLENGE SERIES DRIVER POINT STANDINGS

- Grand Sport: 1. (tie) Jep Thornton, Jeff Segal (119); 3. (tie) Hugh Plumb, Mike Canney (106); 5. (tie) Craig Stanton, Joe Foster, Scott Maxwell (90); 8. Bret Seafuse, James Gue (88); 10. Duncan Ende, Spencer Pumpelly (81).

SELECTED PRE-RACE DRIVER QUOTES

Jep Thornton (No. 09 Automatic Racing BMW M3): "Barber has been one of my favorite tracks in the series since we got a podium in the first pro race run there several years ago. Joe Varde has been giving us unbelievable cars this season and we expect to get one for this race, too. From here on out we have to maintain our discipline, keep our heads down and stay out of trouble. Plus, we're looking forward to the best BBQ on the tour!"

Tommy Constantine (No. 46 Playboy Racing/Fall-Line BMW M3): "Barber is a great track. It is a real driver's track...very technical with a diverse set of corner types, speeds and elevation. The most prominent characteristic in my opinion though, is how physically demanding and busy it is for the driver. In a DP in particular, you barely have time to adjust a sway bar (for example) in between shifts and corners. Combine that with the inevitable heat and humidity that we experience (in July) and it makes for a very challenging environment.

"A couple of years ago when Mike Borkowski and I were running the No. 6 Playboy Daytona Prototype, I got out of the car after my stint and even though I had a cool suit, helmet blower and drink bottle, I think I was on the verge of suffering from heat stroke. I looked at our shiny black race car and it appeared to be candy apple red. Then I told one of my crew members that I smelled burnt popcorn. His response was 'you better sit down buddy.' In any case, I was fine and we finished seventh in that race. We also had good results in the (Nissan) GS car as well.

"Barber is definitely one of my favorite tracks and I am looking forward to running the BMW M3 GS and M6 GT! I think both cars are going to be good there!"

Mike Borkowski (No. 46 Playboy Racing/Fall-Line BMW M3): "Barber is truly on of the finest racing facilities I have ever been to. The place is immaculate and the track is very fun. It is a tough place to pass so track position, pit strategy, and maintaining a position near the front are more critical than at other tracks. I have two third-place finishes in Daytona Prototypes at Barber, and Tommy and I drove to a seventh-place finish in Daytona Prototypes here in 2006. That same year Tommy and I had a shot at winning the GS race. We were one of the fastest cars and it was totally one of those times you have a feeling you are shooting for the win. Tommy pitted in second place under yellow, then storms rolled in, and we circled under yellow and they called the race. Everyone ahead of us did not pit while all of the leaders had just done their first round of stops, so the results were actually wacky. We feel we are owed one there, so I can't wait to get back to the track and shoot for podiums in the GT and the GS cars."

Mike Canney (No. 60 Rehagen Racing Ford Mustang GT): "The spectator viewing areas at the track are just amazing-you can see nearly the entire track from almost anywhere, and that is really a rare thing in road racing. I'm looking forward to our race of course, but it's also a great experience to go up on the hills and see some of the other races that are going on this weekend. I try to learn something from every experience, so it is entertaining as well as helpful."

Todd Lamb (No. 79 Kinetic Motorsports BMW M3): "I really like the track, very tight and technical, so handling is more important than horsepower. There are several corners that have multiple lines, which makes for some exciting moments in traffic. And of course the facility is absolutely first class. I really want to get over to the museum during the weekend.

"Running with Kinetic is like working with a Rolex team. Everyone on the crew is very friendly and professional, and knows when to be serious and when to have fun. I hope that Nic and I can get to the podium, I think we have a pretty good chance of finishing well. I'm really looking forward to my second race in the Kinetic BMW as I think I will be more comfortable pushing the limits after coming off a successful weekend at Watkins Glen."

Jon Miller (No. 83 BGB Motorsports Porsche 997): "I'm really looking forward to the Barber Motorsports Park round of the KONI Challenge championship. Barber was where I first raced in KONI Challenge in 2006 and the facility itself is always a joy to come to. Barber is also the first place that I drove the BGB Motorsports Porsche 997 that I'm racing for the 2008 season. We spent three days testing and got some really good work done on the car. We are going into this weekend with a car that is well suited to this track and a team that is hungry for another win."

Rob Finlay (No. 99 Automatic Racing BMW M3): "I won at Barber in 2006, and now that we've got the car sorted out I'm excited about a possible repeat. I really enjoy the circuit and I think we've got a great car for that layout."

-credit: garra

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers David Murry , Bill Auberlen , Joey Hand , Bob Beede , Kristian Skavnes , Scott Maxwell , Ray Mason , Andy Lally , James Gue , Tom Nastasi , Eric Curran , Chuck Hemmingson , Charles Espenlaub , Spencer Pumpelly , Jean-Francois Dumoulin , Tom Long , Don Salama , Andrew Davis , Hugh Plumb , Mike Borkowski , Craig Stanton , Larry Rehagen , Bret Seafuse , Jep Thornton , Bryan Sellers , Bob Endicott , Jack Roush , Jeff Segal , Ryan Eversley , Glenn Bocchino , Joe Varde , Dean Martin , Peter Ludwig , Rob Finlay , Barry Ellis , Joe Foster , Matthew Alhadeff , Charlie Putman , Tim Traver , Duncan Ende , Tommy Constantine , Ted Ballou , Jim Click , Mike McGovern , Russell Smith , Mike Canney , Trevor Hopwood , Adam Burrows , Matt Pritiko , Todd Lamb , Nick Wittmer , Derek Whitis , Steve Cameron , Nic Jonsson , Jon Miller , David Russell
Teams Kinetic Motorsports , Rehagen Racing , Turner Motorsport , Compass360 Racing , Automatic Racing , Phoenix Racing