SCC: Daytona: Automatic Racing preview

Automatic Racing Returns to Defend KONI Challenge Titles at Daytona DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Automatic Racing returns to the KONI Challenge Series this weekend at Daytona International Raceway to defend their 2007 championships. The No. 09 Fresh...

Automatic Racing Returns to Defend KONI Challenge Titles at Daytona

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Automatic Racing returns to the KONI Challenge Series this weekend at Daytona International Raceway to defend their 2007 championships. The No. 09 Fresh from Florida BMW M3 won the team championship last season, and co-drivers Jep Thornton and Jeff Segal earned the driver title.

The team will have their usual lineup of four BMW M3s in Friday's Fresh from Florida 200, with Thornton and Segal once again co-driving the No. 09 M3. The car performed well during Test Days, and Thornton feels that they have the right package to continue their dominance of the class.

Charlie Putnam and Charles Espenlaub had a successful test of the No. 91 M3 at Test Days earlier this month, and they are looking forward to their first race in the car.

"This is really my first racing experience at Daytona," said Putnam. "My learning curve was quick at Test Days, though I've got some more work to do. Charles jumped right in and got up to speed, and climbed out of the car with a smile on his face. We've got a good ride under us and I think we can get a good showing."

Joe Masessa is teaming up with Nick Longhi to drive the No. 90 Automatic Racing M3. Longhi is no stranger to Automatic Racing. He first drove with the team in 2006, and last year he drove in the season finale at Virginia International Raceway with Thornton and Segal, helping the pair clinch their championship.

"I love this team and we have a great relationship," said Longhi of his return to Automatic. "They're a very professional team and the high point of my season last year was doing what I could to help them win the championship at VIR. We're looking forward to being back in the car."

Jon Miller is also returning to Automatic Racing this season. Miller will be teaming up with David Russell in the No. 99 BMW M3. "I'm pretty excited about driving with David," said Miller. "He and I have been friends for a long time and he was the guy I went to when I was looking to get into Grand Am. Last year was my first season in KONI Challenge, and it was a big learning curve. Now I'm a lot more confident and the cars are even better than they were last season. I'm happy to be starting the season with Automatic at Daytona."

-credit: automatic racing

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Nick Longhi , Charles Espenlaub , Jep Thornton , Joe Masessa , Jeff Segal , Jon Miller , David Russell
Teams Automatic Racing