Gue, Seafuse Look to Steal KONI Challenge Point Lead Away from Wilden at Laguna Seca
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (May 13, 2009) - James Gue's only Grand-Am KONI Sports Car Challenge victory came in 2005 at California Speedway. He's hoping to win at another California track this weekend, as he and Bret Seafuse challenge for the Grand Sport (GS) point lead at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
The two-and-a-half hour Verizon Festival of Speed, the first for GS and Street Tuner (ST) competitors at the 2.238-mile, 11-turn track since 2007, will begin at 3 p.m. PT (SPEED, at noon ET May 23).
Since joining JBS Motorsports and co-driver Bret Seafuse, Gue has wheeled the No. 37 Trumansburg ShurSave Ford Mustang GT to several top finishes, including a pair of second-place finishes in 2008. The series runners-up fell only six points short of last year's title.
This season, consistency has again rewarded Gue and Seafuse. They have finished in the top five in all three races, including a best of fourth coming at Homestead-Miami Speedway. They trail leader Ken Wilden by only three points (83-80) after three of 11 rounds.
In their most recent outing at Laguna Seca, the pair finished seventh.
"We've had a good start to the year, and we're looking forward to carry the momentum into this weekend," said Gue, driving one of the two JBS Motorsports entries this weekend. "In the past, this has been a strong track for us. I'm optimistic about a strong finish this weekend, and with that, taking over the point lead."
Wilden's No. 59 Rehagen Racing Ford Mustang GT has not only helped him atop the driver standings, but the car is also atop the team points. Wilden, who won the pole position in ST in the KONI Challenge's last visit to Laguna Seca, will team with Dean Martin. They are attempting to give the car its ninth straight finish of eighth or better, dating back to last July at Barber Motorsports Park.
Two former GS winners, who won together two seasons ago at Laguna Seca, will go for their second victories of 2009 in separate cars. Spencer Pumpelly teamed with Peter Ludwig for the 2007 victory at Laguna Seca. Two weeks after winning his first race of the season at New Jersey Motorsports Park, Pumpelly will drive the No. 39 DigiTrust Group/Adams Polishes Porsche 997, one of two TRG entered cars, with Los Angeles native Duncan Ende. TRG, also fielding the No. 41 Magnus Racing Porsche 997 for Andy Lally and John Potter, is based in Petaluma, Calif. Lally is a previous Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series winner at Laguna Seca.
Ludwig is expected to co-pilot the No. 18 Motorsport Technologies Group Porsche 997 with Billy Johnson, who co-won the ST race in 2007. Already, the pair triumphed this season at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
In addition to Ende, California natives competing in GS are Matt Bell (Los Altos), Boris Said (Carlsbad) and Justin Marks (Rockland) - all driving for Turner Motorsport. Marks, driving with Chris Gleason in the No. 97 Turner Motorsport BMW M3, has not competed in KONI Challenge competition since 2005, but has victories in each of his last three starts. Bell - going for three straight pole positions - and Said will drive the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M3.
Fall-Line Motorsports, Kinetic Motorsports, Jim Click Racing and Automatic Racing are also expected to field two cars each, with Horsepower Ranch and CA Sport with one car each entered.
Champion Holtom Returns, Giving Compass360 Shot At Three Straight
The last time Jamie Holtom drove in KONI Challenge competition, the 21-year-old Canadian was celebrating his ST championship. This weekend's race will be the first of 2009 for Holtom, who is looking for his second victory at Laguna Seca and record-tying 13th of his career.
Even more importantly, however, for Holtom will be how his efforts affect his team. Driving for the first time with Compass360 Racing after 39 starts with another Canadian-based team, Georgian Bay Motorsports, Holtom will attempt to give Compass360 and co-driver Christian Miller their third straight victory. Miller won in the No. 74 034 Motorsport/Skunk2 Honda Civic Si with Randy Pobst at Homestead-Miami Speedway and New Jersey Motorsports Park.
Miller co-leads the standings with Pobst - who will return to the next round at Lime Rock Park - by six points (89-83) over Andrew Aquilante and Kristian Skavnes, both of whom are making their first starts in KONI Challenge competition at the track in the No. 111 Subaru Road Racing Team Subaru Legacy.
"This is my home race, and the only chance I don't have to travel hundreds of miles in order to get to an event," said Miller, of San Jose, Calif. "The Compass360 Racing cars are prepared very well, and even though I'll miss Randy this weekend, Jamie is a front-running guy who will help us keep the car up front."
Karl Thomson, who won in ST in 2007, will also field two other Honda Civic Sis for Compass360 Racing, which also has locks on fifth- and sixth-place in the points.
Lurking close are the two Georgian Bay Motorsports cars, with Fresh From Florida 200 winners Lawson Aschenbach and Pat Iannucci third in points in the No. 00 T.T.L. Chevrolet Cobalt SS, and Ashley McCalmont and Kirk Spencer fourth in points in the No. 01 T.T.L. Chevrolet Cobalt SS.
Several teams are making their first appearances at Laguna Seca, including the three-car Freedom Autosport and two-car APR Motorsport teams (with San Luis Obispo, Calif., driver Mike Sweeney driving one of the cars), Istook's Motorsports and CA Sport. Other teams include Team Sahlen, Team Cobalt California with California drivers Pete Bovenberg (Campbell) and Thomas Lepper (Benicia), Next Generation Motorsports with Californian Beau Borders (Venice), Turner Motorsport and GS Motorsports.
Practice begins at 8:40 a.m. PT Friday, with qualifying at 5:05 p.m. PT Friday and the two-hour, 30-minute race taking the green flag at 3 p.m. PT Saturday. Live timing and scoring, notes and results will be available on www.grand-am.com, with regular weekend updates also posted on www.twitter.com/KONI_Challenge.