SCC: Laguna Seca: Automatic Racing preview

Automatic Racing Takes Fresh from Florida Campaign to the West Coast MONTEREY, Calif. -- Florida agriculture will be well represented in California this weekend as Automatic Racing takes on Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for round four of the KONI...

Automatic Racing Takes Fresh from Florida Campaign to the West Coast

MONTEREY, Calif. -- Florida agriculture will be well represented in California this weekend as Automatic Racing takes on Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for round four of the KONI Challenge season.

Automatic Racing will field four BMW M3s in the Grand Sport class, including the No. 99 Fresh from Florida BMW of Tom Long and David Russell, the No. 09 Fresh from Florida entry shared by Jep Thornton and Jeff Segal, the No. 90 of Jon Miller and Owen Trinkler, and the No. 91 of Tim George, Jr. and Conrad Grunewald.

Thornton and Segal earned the first podium of the season for the team, taking third place last month at Iowa Speedway. Now, they hope to put the No. 09 Fresh from Florida BMW on the podium at a track where both drivers have proven their skill.

Last year, Segal and Joao Barbosa drove to a third-place finish in the No. 90 Automatic BMW. Thornton, who teamed up with Lonnie Pechnik in the No. 09, kept the team at the front of the pack. They led briefly before a late-race stop for a splash of fuel.

"Laguna is a track that suits our BMWs well," said Segal. "I'm looking forward to our first real road course of the season. Of course, with Lime Rock next weekend, staying clean is going to be an important factor."

"The cars are better than last year and we have shown that we can run up front at this track," said Thornton. "My favorite part of the track is the corkscrew. In the BMW you can't see the apex of the downhill lefthander like you can in a formula car, so you have to look for the tree on the other side of the track which puts you in perfect position."

Long has been getting plenty of time behind the wheel of a BMW lately, and he will be ready for more in the No. 99 Fresh from Florida M3. Long drove a BMW M6 in the Cannonball One Lap of America, which concluded last week. Miller also competed in the race, giving Automatic Racing two representatives in the cross-country trek. Long and co-driver Tom Fralick finished sixth overall and fourth in their class after 3,947.5 miles of driving.

"I had the chance to test at Laguna last year, and I'm excited about going back in a BMW," said Long. "After reading so much about the history of the track and driving it in video games, it was a great opportunity to test there, and going back to race is even better."

Fans will have the opportunity to meet the Automatic Racing drivers the evening of Friday, May 18, from 5:00-8:00 p.m. PDT at The Mucky Duck in Monterey. The Grand Sport race will be held the following day, beginning at 9:05 a.m.

-credit: ar

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Joao Barbosa , Tom Long , Jep Thornton , Lonnie Pechnik , Owen Trinkler , Jeff Segal , Conrad Grunewald , Jon Miller
Teams Automatic Racing