Automatic Racing Comes Back From 49th to Finish 18th at California Speedway FONTANA, Calif. -- A brake light failure dropped the No. 09 Automatic Racing BMW M3 back to 49th during the Grand-Am Cup California 200 at California Speedway, but a...
Automatic Racing Comes Back From 49th to Finish 18th at California Speedway
FONTANA, Calif. -- A brake light failure dropped the No. 09 Automatic Racing BMW M3 back to 49th during the Grand-Am Cup California 200 at California Speedway, but a good strategy and hard driving brought the team back up to 18th.
Jep Thornton started the Grand Sports-class BMW from 12th on the grid and he maintained his position during his stint, staying out of the many scuffles that other teams got into as they fought for space on the track.
"The traffic out there was unbelievable!" said Thornton. "The car felt great, and I was able to come through my stint clean. We really had the car going fast here. We're looking forward to moving on to Laguna Seca. It will be the first time we've raced there."
When Thornton's stint was over, he pitted and handed the No. 09 BMW over to David Russell. Soon, Russell was called back to the pits after the car's brake lights were reported to not be working. The crew got to work on the problem, but Russell was two laps down in 49th when he re-entered the track.
Russell began moving back toward the front, and he was able to gain one of the lost laps back before the checkered flag with help from Crew Chief John Terry's strategy.
"We really had to fight after losing two laps to the brake light repair," said Russell. "John's strategy got us back up near the front. The car was so good there. At the end I just kept slicing through the pack. I picked up two more positions on the last lap."
The No. 90 BMW M3 had an even more challenging day. Dave Riddle started the car he shares with Kris Wilson in 16th, but halfway through his stint he was hit by another car. The contact resulted in a flat tire, and Riddle's car spun, sending him into a wall at high speed. Riddle was uninjured, but there was suspension damage to the BMW and the team was forced to retire the No. 90 entry.
Automatic Racing has a month to test and prepare for the next round, which will also be in California. The U.S. Sports Car Invitational at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca will be held on April 30.