SCC: Trois-Rivieres: Automatic Racing race notes

Lucky Number Eight for Automatic Racing's Putman and Espenlaub TROIS-RIVIERES, Quebec -- If there is any truth to the Chinese tradition that the number eight is lucky, then Charlie Putman and Charles Espenlaub are the luckiest men in the KONI...

Lucky Number Eight for Automatic Racing's Putman and Espenlaub

TROIS-RIVIERES, Quebec -- If there is any truth to the Chinese tradition that the number eight is lucky, then Charlie Putman and Charles Espenlaub are the luckiest men in the KONI Challenge paddock. The two drivers scored Automatic Racing's best finish in Sunday's Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres with their third consecutive eighth-place finish.

Putman qualified 10th among the Grand Sport entries, driving the No. 91 Automatic Racing BMW M3. After the start of the race, Putman kept the car near the front, battling his way back after getting hit by a competitor. Espenlaub took over the driving duties during a caution, and crossed the finish line in eighth.

"We seem to be settling into eighth!" commented Putman. "We're pretty happy because the finish is within our goals. This was my first time to Trois-Rivieres, and it's notoriously tough to learn the first time out."

"We're really impressed to see the success Charlie and Charles have had the past few weekends. They've consistently been the fastest car in the Automatic camp, and it's great to see their progress," said team owner Jep Thornton.

While Putman and Espenlaub were extending their luck, championship points leaders Thornton and Jeff Segal found themselves in need of some luck of their own. Thornton qualified seventh and ran in fifth during his stint, but during the pit stop for the No. 09 Imported Car Store/Rogue Engineering/LandAir/Engine Music Studios BMW M3, a tire was run over and the team was penalized with an extra trip to the pits.

From there, Segal had the task of trying to make up time on the track. With the No. 09 a lap down, though, the team had to accept a 12-place finish. It marks the first race this season that hasn't resulted in a top-five finish for Thornton and Segal. Their championship lead has now shrunk from 22 to a slim 10 points.

"We did a lot of work to get the car right during practice, and Jep said it was awesome in qualifying," said a disappointed Segal. "We had a great car, but we were stuck trying to get our lap back. The yellows weren't at the right times for us, so there wasn't much we could do."

"We were in a very good position until the pit stop but rules are rules and we have to abide by them," said Thornton. "It just shows how diligent you have to be to win the title. We have to make sure we don't make those kinds of mistakes anymore. The car was very good in the race; we were fighting brakes as was everyone else, but we expect the car to be in top form for New Jersey."

Rob Finlay and Steve Cameron had another disappointing weekend in the No. 99 Mobile-Shop.com BMW M3, retiring 57 laps into the race with broken suspension.

-credit: ar

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