Automatic Racing Heads to Phoenix International Raceway After Less than a Week to Repair Their BMW

PHOENIX, Ariz.- Automatic Racing came back from the Grand-Am Cup round at Homestead with less than one week to replace the clutch and gearbox on the No. 09 BMW M3, as well as get the car prepared for this weekend's Grand-Am Cup 250 at Phoenix International Raceway.

Automatic Racing drivers Jep Thornton and David Russell are anxious to get to Phoenix, where they finished fifth in the Grand Sports II class in 2003. Now a part of the Grand Sports class, Automatic Racing had a disappointing weekend at Homestead when their clutch failed early in the race, and Thornton and Russell are looking forward to showing the car's abilities on Phoenix's 1.51-mile road course.

Team Manager Mike McLaughlin wasted no time in getting to work after Homestead, and two days after returning to Automatic Racing's shop in Orlando, Fla., he had taken delivery of a new clutch and gearbox and was busy installing them into the car. The next day, McLaughlin took the BMW for a test drive to assure that the new components were functioning correctly.

"We're trying to take another step toward solving any remaining reliability issues for the car," reflected Russell. "Now we have the challenge of trying to find a solution for our clutch. I think you really see a team's commitment when you have only a week of turnaround time between races. You've got to have strong guys on your team to make it happen. The car is as strong as it was going into Daytona and Homestead. Nothing got left behind, even with the time issue."

"It's going to be tough to catch the Porsches," predicted Thornton. "They're just so quick and it's difficult to compete against them. But we're looking forward to the race. We did well there last year. I love Phoenix. It's such a great place and I have a lot of good friends there. Baseball season just started, so we're going to try to catch a Diamondbacks game if they're in town."

Fans can keep up with Automatic Racing's season on the web at