WILDEN, MARTIN DOMINATE, WIN KONI CHALLENGE GRAND SPORT RACE AT MID-OHIO IN REHAGEN MUSTANG Volkswagen GTIs Sweep Front Row For Sunday's Street Tuner Race LEXINGTON, Ohio (June 20, 2009) - Ken Wilden took another step towards the 2009 Grand-Am...
WILDEN, MARTIN DOMINATE, WIN KONI CHALLENGE GRAND SPORT RACE AT MID-OHIO IN REHAGEN MUSTANG
Volkswagen GTIs Sweep Front Row For Sunday's Street Tuner Race
LEXINGTON, Ohio (June 20, 2009) - Ken Wilden took another step towards the 2009 Grand-Am KONI Sports Car Challenge Grand Sport championship Saturday, scoring a dominating victory at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course with Dean Martin in the No. 59 RehagenRacingProducts.com Ford Mustang GT.
Martin led the opening 41 circuits, pressured the entire time by pole winner Matt Bell and Bret Seafuse. The lead recycled back to Wilden on Lap 46, five laps after his pit stop, and he maintained a comfortable advantage the rest of the way.
"I wouldn't say I was on cruise control, but I was really taking care of the car," Martin said. "I was trying to stay consistent. We had a flawless race. We got out front and stayed out front. We also had a fantastic pit stop."
Wilden made a final pit stop with 18 minutes remaining, but managed to retain the lead. His margin of victory, 34.439 seconds, was the largest of the season.
"Dean drove a great race," Wilden said. "He's a great starter. He forces the other teams to put their foot down. We were hoping we would be able to push the Porsches and BMWs to have some problems - and they did."
Wilden and Martin averaged 85.589 mph in the caution-free two-and-a-half hour race. It marked their second consecutive Grand Sport victory at Mid-Ohio, winning the last appearance by the division in 2007.
James Gue finished second in JBS Motorsport's No. 37 Trumansburg ShurSave Ford Mustang GT started by Seafuse. Spencer Pumpelly and Duncan Ende finished third in TRG's No. 39 The DigiTrust Group/Adam's Polishes Porsche 997, which battled back after pitting on the opening lap with a cut tire and falling back to 16th.
Joey Hand pitted for a splash of fuel in the No. 97 Turner Motorsport BMW M3 started by Chris Gleason with only two minutes remaining while running third. They held on to take fourth, the last car on the lead lap.
The victory opened Wilden's lead in the championship to 21 points over Seafuse and Gue (204-183). Martin, who missed a race earlier in the season, moved up to third in the standings with 174 points, five better than Ende.
Bill Auberlen was running second in the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M3 started by Bell before a pit stop due to losing his brakes with 30 minutes remaining. They went on to finish fifth. Bell won his fifth pole of the season - and fifth in seven races this season - earlier Saturday with a track record lap of 1:33.896 (86.572 mph), and led two laps following Martin's pit stop.
Martin led the opening 41 circuits - pressured heavily by Bell throughout the opening hour. Seafuse made it a three-car battle much of the opening hour before being bumped off course by a lapped car on Lap 30 as the leaders raced through traffic.
"Second place was a little unfortunate, but it was good to come back from that incident," Seafuse said. "But if those guys (Wilden and Martin) keep going like this, it's going to be tough to catch them."
Glenn Bocchino led two laps before pitting in the No. 32 Cybernation/Cobalt Friction BMW M3. Co-driver Todd Lamb pitted five laps later after leaking fluids. While a brief fire was quickly extinguished, the car was retired.
Several other contenders experienced problems.
Jack Roush Jr. ran fifth throughout the opening hour before turning the No. 61 Valvoline/Roush Ford Mustang GT over to Billy Johnson, who lost four laps with a broken tie rod.
Andy Lally was running sixth before dropping a cylinder in the No. 41 Magnus Racing Porsche 997 and pitting late in the race in the car started by John Potter.
Saturday's race was the seventh of the 2009 KONI Challenge season. Only four races remain, with the next stop July 18 at Barber Motorsports Park.
APR VWs Sweep Front Row for Sunday's ST Race
Earlier Saturday, Josh Hurley and Mike Sweeney gave APR Motorsport its second consecutive front-row sweep in qualifying for Sunday's Street Tuner event.
It was Hurley's second pole of the season in the No. 171 Gunther VW/APR Motorsports Volkswagen GTI, and the third straight pole for the team.
"Ever since Lime Rock (where Hurley won the pole), we've figured out something with the suspension, and we've been coming on strong," said Hurley, who co-drives with Ian Baas. "We're having a little bit of turbo lag, but we've found enough in the suspension that we're doing okay without it."
Sweeney shares APR's No. 181 VW with Dion von Moltke. The pair combined to give the team its first victory from the pole in the most recent event at Watkins Glen International.
Compass360 Racing swept the second row, with point leader Christian Miller taking third in the No. 74 034 Motorsport/Skunk2 Honda Civic Si co-driven by Randy Pobst, followed by Ted Anthony Jr. in the No. 76 Skunk2/C360R.com Honda Civic Si shared by Jamie Sloan.
Rounding out the top five qualifiers was Andrew Aquilante, who co-drives the No. 111 Subaru of America Subaru Legacy with Kristian Skavnes, who is going for three straight KONI ST wins at Mid-Ohio.
For additional information or to follow frequent updates during the KONI Challenge ST race at Mid-Ohio, visit www.grand-am.com or go to www.twitter.com/RolexSeries for weekend updates.