SCC: Lime Rock: Automatic Racing race notes

Automatic Racing Wins! Thornton and Segal Victorious at Lime Rock LIME ROCK, Conn. -- Automatic Racing's Jep Thornton and Jeff Segal scored their first career wins in the KONI Challenge Series during Monday's Grand Sport race at Lime Rock. It...

Automatic Racing Wins! Thornton and Segal Victorious at Lime Rock

LIME ROCK, Conn. -- Automatic Racing's Jep Thornton and Jeff Segal scored their first career wins in the KONI Challenge Series during Monday's Grand Sport race at Lime Rock. It also marks the first win for Automatic Racing since their formation in 2002.

The perfect combination of driving skill, car preparation and pit strategy came together to give Thornton and Segal the win in the No. 09 Automatic Racing BMW M3. The reigning series champions earned their title last year without notching a victory, so they were ready to taste the champagne.

"I'm thrilled -- words can't describe how I feel for the team, Jeff and myself. After winning the championship it's nice to validate ourselves with a win," commented Thornton.

At the beginning of the season, Thornton and Segal both said that their E46 M3 performed even better than it did last year, and the team has spent the last four months perfecting the car, which is sponsored by the Imported Car Store, Rogue Engineering, Engine Studios and LandAir.

After qualifying eighth, Thornton ran in third and fourth position during his long first stint before handing the car over to Segal. During a late caution, the team opted to stay out on track while the other front-runners ducked into the pits for a splash of fuel. It was a gamble that paid off as Segal stayed out front for the win, nearly running the gas tank dry.

"The car was absolutely awesome and the strategy was perfect," said Segal. "We were a little short on fuel at the end but we made it work. I just drove and never saw anyone for position the whole time until the very end. When we tested there I knew the car was the best it's ever been; the KONI shocks have made a big difference and the guys really did a lot to the car over the off-season. Now last year is complete."

"We knew we had a car that could win this weekend and Joe Varde had a great strategy," added Thornton. "I had probably the best run of my career. We had an unbelievable pit stop and the yellows came at right time. Everything was perfect."

Mobile-Shop was on hand during the weekend showing off their new product and supporting the No. 99 Mobile-Shop BMW M3 of Rob Finlay and Steve Cameron. They had a winning pace early on but fell victim to traffic on Lime Rock's short course, falling back after contact with another car. The No. 91 Automatic Racing BMW M3 of Charlie Putnam and Charles Espenlaub suffered the same fate, finishing 11th after an early run in the top ten.

Joe Masessa and Nick Longhi had their own share of bad luck in the No. 90 M3, spending an extended amount of time in the pits for a mechanical issue that kept them from being a top contender.

-credit: ar

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Nick Longhi , Jep Thornton , Joe Masessa , Jeff Segal , Joe Varde , Rob Finlay
Teams Automatic Racing