Marks & Auberlen Take Series-Leading Fourth Victory and Second-Straight at Mid-Ohio LEXINGTON, Ohio (August 28, 2005) -- Justin Marks and Bill Auberlen continued their roll in the Grand-Am Cup Series as the No. 95 Turner Motorsport BMW M3 ...
Marks & Auberlen Take Series-Leading Fourth Victory and Second-Straight at Mid-Ohio
LEXINGTON, Ohio (August 28, 2005) -- Justin Marks and Bill Auberlen continued their roll in the Grand-Am Cup Series as the No. 95 Turner Motorsport BMW M3 co-drivers claimed their series-leading fourth victory of the season in Sunday's Grand-Am Cup 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (SPEED Channel, September 17, 12:00 Noon ET).
Marks led the opening lap after starting from the pole position, but swapped the lead with outside polesitter Spencer Pumpelly in the No. 18 Race Prep Motorsports Porsche 996 four times in the first 19 laps of the 82-lap affair. However, once Marks reclaimed the lead on Lap 19, it became clear that the No. 96 BMW would be tough to beat as he led the next 17 circuits.
"Spencer ran me pretty hard in the race," Marks said. "I didn't want to get stuck behind him with Empringham and Maxwell behind me. I'm real happy for the team. The guys worked really hard, and they really deserve the win."
Marks surrendered the lead to Grand Sport (GS) points leader David Empringham in the No. 05 Multimatic Motorsports Ford Mustang GT when he pitted to turn the BMW over to Auberlen under a full-course caution period on Lap 36. In turn, Empringham handed the lead to Mark Plummer in the No. 38 BGB Motorsports Porsche Carrera for one lap when he made his pit stop and handed off to co-driver Scott Maxwell.
However, once the pit stop cycle was completed, Auberlen was back out front and was never seriously challenged for the remainder of the race. The Californian crossed the stripe 31.273 seconds ahead of Empringham's co-driver, Scott Maxwell, to collect his second-consecutive Grand-Am Cup victory alongside Marks.
"This was absolutely the most flawless race we've run," Auberlen said. "We couldn't have done our pit stops at a better time, and the car did pretty much whatever we wanted all day. The hardest part was the last four laps, just hoping everything stayed together. Turner builds an awesome car; you see it in both classes. These cars are like rocket ships."
In addition to their victories today and at Trois-Rivieres earlier this month, Marks and Auberlen also won the Miller Grand-Am Cup 200 in the Dominican Republic in March and the Chemung Canal Trust 200 at Watkins Glen International in June. It was the duo's fifth top-two finish in nine GS races this season.
It was an eventful stint for Maxwell, who rejoined the race in 17th place after taking over the No. 05 Mustang from Empringham on Lap 39. Maxwell broke back into the top 10 after just eight laps and moved into fifth place on Lap 61. The Canadian methodically picked off positions as the laps wound down, settling into second place with just three laps remaining.
"It was a tough one for us," Maxwell said. "We lost out on fuel mileage and ended up 17th after the caution, so it was hard work. The Ford Mustang was strong. The brakes worked well, the engine worked well, and we'll take the points. We were pushing hard, but (the No. 96 car) was a long way up the road when we came across, so we've still got some work to do."
While Marks and Auberlen won another battle at Mid-Ohio, Empringham continues to win the season-long war as he and Maxwell took their series-leading sixth podium result of the season. While Marks and Auberlen were able to gain a few points with their victory, Empringham holds a healthy 22-point advantage over Marks (262-242) with just two races remaining on the 2005 Grand Am Cup Schedule.
"We couldn't be happier," Empringham said. "We could see we didn't have the car for Justin and Bill, and because of our fuel economy issues, we had to wait for the yellow a longer amount of time in order to be able to make it to the end of the race for our driver change. Scott came out at 17th and we had a long way to go. He had a really good run, so we couldn't be happier with second place."
Third place in the Grand-Am Cup 200 changed hands a number of times in the closing minutes before Ohioans Joe and Wayne Nonnamaker in the No. 40 Team Sahlen Porsche 996 laid claim to the final podium spot. It was the best result of the season by far for the Nonnamakers, eclipsing a previous best class result of 11th in June's Mosport 200.
Finishing fourth were David Murry and Blake Rosser in the No. 13 Unitech Racing Nissan 350Z. It was the third top-five performance in the past four Grand-Am Cup races for Murry and Rosser, and was the second-straight top-four showing at Mid-Ohio for the No. 13 Unitech team. Last year, Rosser teamed with Kelly Collins to give the Nissan 350Z its first-ever Grand-Am Cup Series victory.
Canadians Dave Lacey and Greg Wilkins topped-off a successful weekend with a fifth-place performance in the No. 17 Doncaster Racing Porsche 996. It was the second top-five performance in as many days for Lacey and Wilkins, as the duo scored a third-place GT class result in Saturday's Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series EMCO Gears Classic at Mid-Ohio.
The Grand-Am Cup Series will now head west to Phoenix International Raceway for the Phoenix Twin 200s in two weeks time. Television coverage of today's Grand-Am Cup 200 from Mid-Ohio will air on SPEED Channel beginning at 12:00 Noon ET on Saturday, September 17.
LALLY AND HOLTOM DRIVE COBALT TO POPULAR ST VICTORY AT MID-OHIO
Just a few miles down the road from the factory that builds the Chevrolet Cobalt and with several Cobalt builders in attendance, Andy Lally and co-driver Jamie Holtom co-drove the No. 00 Georgian Bay Motorsports Cobalt to a popular Sport Touring (ST) class victory in the Grand-Am Cup 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
Lally kept the pressure on leader Don Salama in the No. 95 Turner Motorsport 330i throughout the closing minutes and pounced on the opportunity to take the lead when Salama made contact with the lapped No. 20 Nuzzo Motorsports Mini Cooper of Tony Nuzzo with fewer than four laps remaining to secure the victory.
"It was all about managing traffic," Lally said. "Don (Salama) got blocked by a slower car and I was able to slip by and get that win. It was great to be able to do that in full view of the 600 plus UAW partners here from the Lordstown, Ohio plant where the Cobalt SS Superchargers are made."
Holtom, who qualified the car sixth in the ST class, avoided trouble early before handing control to Lally during a full-course caution at approximately the halfway point of the race. Holtom gave credit to the car for keeping him out of trouble during his stint.
"The torque of the Cobalt engine helped me out of a tight hole when a slower car spun coming out of the esses (early in the race)," Holtom said. "The brakes were good too."
The win was the second of the season for each of the Georgian Bay Motorsports drivers. Holtom won the Mosport 200 in June with his father, Jim, and Lally won with the elder Holtom in Round 4 at Watkins Glen International.
Salama, who is celebrating a birthday today, took over the No. 95 machine from co-driver Will Turner during the same caution period as Lally, and the duo ran nose-to-tail for the better part of the next hour. Turner, who qualified in the pole position on Saturday, had mixed emotions at race's end as he and Salama wound up second. Turner and Salama missed a sweep of both class victories by the narrowest of margins.
"I don't know how to feel," Turner said. "I'm happy for my team for winning in GS, and it was easy to watch them. Don (Salama) was in a tight battle, and we had a bad break with lapped traffic that was holding us up. Our day is coming. Today is Don's birthday, and we wanted to give him a win."
"We had a car to win for the first time in a long time," Salama added. "I could have won if I had open track. It was pretty frustrating. I know that the Mini Cooper didn't know we were leading. He turned in on me at the wrong time and cost me some damage and a position. It was disappointing, but that's racing."
Eric Curran and Bob Endicott finished third in the No. 27 Bill Fenton Motorsports Acura RSX-S for their third podium finish together this season. Endicott has finished inside the class top three four times this season, as he took a third-place result with Hugh Plumb at Barber Motorsports Park.
Steve Pfeffer and Mike Fitzgerald finished fourth in the No. 97 Turner Motorsport BMW 330i, bolstering an already-successful race for Turner Motorsport. It was the second-consecutive top-four performance for Pfeffer, who finished a season-best third alongside Tim Pappas in the Trois-Rivieres 150 earlier this month.
David Haskell, the ST class points leader coming into the race, finished fifth with co-driver Sylvain Tremblay in their No. 70 SpeedSource Mazda RX-8. Haskell still leads Tremblay in the championship by two points, 228-226, after eight of 10 races. Salama and Turner are tied for third with 221 points.
SHAWN GREENE MEDICAL UPDATE AS OF 6 P.M. SUNDAY
No. 36 Compass 360/Racing BMW Z3 driver Shawn Greene, who was injured in a crash in Turn 1 with the No. 21 Bodymotion Racing Porsche 997 during the Sunday morning warm-up, was in surgery at Grant Medical Center in Columbus, Ohio.
According to trauma physician Dr. Victor Dizon, Greene sustained fractures to his pelvis, tailbone and left femur in the incident. Greene was awake and alert prior to surgery, and is scheduled to begin physical therapy on Monday in Columbus. He will remain hospitalized until he shows enough improvement to return to his home in Scottsdale, Ariz.