SCC: Millville: Automatic Racing preview

Automatic Racing Planning for Success in New Jersey MILLVILLE, N.J. -- For Automatic Racing's Jep Thornton and Jeff Segal, the KONI Challenge race at Trois-Rivieres didn't go as planned. Now, the co-drivers of the No. 09 BMW M3 are heading to...

Automatic Racing Planning for Success in New Jersey

MILLVILLE, N.J. -- For Automatic Racing's Jep Thornton and Jeff Segal, the KONI Challenge race at Trois-Rivieres didn't go as planned. Now, the co-drivers of the No. 09 BMW M3 are heading to New Jersey Motorsports Park with a renewed focus.

The narrow 10-point lead that Thornton and Segal have in the Grand Sport class championship might be exciting for the fans, but they don't want that gap to get any smaller. They expect their lead to increase once again on the 2.25-mile road course: this is the first year that the new track has been on the KONI Challenge schedule, but Segal is already familiar with the twists and turns of the layout.

"I've instructed at New Jersey, and I think that the track's layout will be a good match for the M3," said Segal. As for the narrow points lead he and Thornton share, Segal adds, "Now we really have to race going into New Jersey. It will keep things exciting, but we would have liked a healthier lead. Hopefully we'll get on the podium and be back on track."

Charles Espenlaub also had the chance to learn the New Jersey track earlier this year during testing, so his expertise should boost his and co-driver Charlie Putman's chances for a top finish in the No. 91 Automatic Racing BMW M3.

With three consecutive eighth-places finishes to their credit, Espenlaub and Putman are itching to make the leap to the top five. Putman expects a bit of a challenge at New Jersey, but that's not slowing him down at all. "Even though Charles went there to do some testing, we think the track will be a lot different because there will be a lot more rubber laid down," he commented. "It will be a learning experience for all of us. We're going into two tracks where we have experience after Jersey, so we're going to turn it up a notch and hope for better finishes for the rest of the season."

Rob Finlay and Steve Cameron are hoping for a better finish in the No. 99 Mobile-Shop.com BMW M3 after a recent string of bad luck. They will both be driving the new circuit for the first time, but they are optimistic about their potential.

"We're scheduled for a lot of track time prior to the race, so that should give us a chance to get up to speed, and of course the entire team will benefit from having available data from all three Automatic entries," said Finlay. "We need to get a good showing after the bad luck we've had the last few races, and we expect Jersey to be a good track for us."

Practice for the KONI Challenge race at New Jersey Motorsports Park starts this Friday, with qualifying on Saturday. The 250-mile race begins on Sunday, August 31 at 8:45 a.m.

-credit: ar

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Charles Espenlaub , Jep Thornton , Jeff Segal , Rob Finlay , Charlie Putman , Steve Cameron
Teams Automatic Racing