SCC: Millville: Automatic Racing preview

Automatic Racing Looks for Redemption at New Jersey Motorsports Park MILLVILLE, NJ-- Last year's KONI Sports Car Challenge race at New Jersey Motorsports Park is one that Automatic Racing would like to forget: all three of their BMW M3s were...

Automatic Racing Looks for Redemption at New Jersey Motorsports Park

MILLVILLE, NJ-- Last year's KONI Sports Car Challenge race at New Jersey Motorsports Park is one that Automatic Racing would like to forget: all three of their BMW M3s were taken out of contention in on-track incidents, and the points lead slipped out of their control for the first time all season.

But it's a new season, and Automatic Racing will be looking for redemption when they return to the New Jersey track this weekend for Saturday's 2.5-hour KONI Challenge race.

Mark Hillestad and Barry Waddell recently tested at the 2.25-mile New Jersey Motorsports Park. Since the co-drivers of the No. 99 Automatic Racing/H&S Tool BMW M3 (www.handstool.net) are new to the series this year, they didn't have the opportunity to compete at the track last year.

Hillestad was optimistic about the results of the test. "I'm glad we had a chance to learn the track during this break between rounds," he said. "It's not good to leave the pits and not know where the track goes on a race weekend! I like the track: it's fun to drive and I think our car will be good there. It's tight and technical, so there will be a lot of overtaking and lapping slower cars."

Recent changes to the track, including a configuration change, got a positive review from Waddell, who says he is cautiously optimistic about the race. "Now we know both the track and the changes made to it," he said. "It will still be a bit of a challenge in some spots, but overall I think we'll be pretty competitive there. Our test gave us some good data so that we can compete instead of just trying to survive at a new track."

Charlie Putman and Charles Espenlaub, driving the No. 91 Automatic M3, will be especially anxious to have a better weekend at New Jersey Motorsports Park than they did last year. Putman put in a solid first stint, but shortly after Espenlaub took over, he was hit by another car. "We made strides at the test and have a good setup heading into this weekend. The new chicane really improves the rhythm of the track; it was a good change. Traffic will still be a big challenge, though," said Putman.

Automatic Racing's two Grand Sport-class BMW M3s will race on Saturday, May 2 at 3:10 p.m. This year, they want to walk away with bragging rights.

-credit: www.AutomaticRacing.com

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Charles Espenlaub , Charlie Putman , Mark Hillestad , Barry Waddell
Teams Automatic Racing