Marks & Auberlen Pick Up Series-Leading Third Victory of 2005 Season at Trois-Rivieres TROIS-RIVIERES, Quebec, Canada (August 7, 2005) -- Under bright sunshine and in front of yet another large and enthusiastic Canadian crowd, No. 96 Turner ...
Marks & Auberlen Pick Up Series-Leading Third Victory of 2005 Season at Trois-Rivieres
TROIS-RIVIERES, Quebec, Canada (August 7, 2005) -- Under bright sunshine and in front of yet another large and enthusiastic Canadian crowd, No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M3 co-drivers Justin Marks and Bill Auberlen picked up their third Grand-Am Cup Series Grand Sport (GS) victory of the 2005 season in Sunday's Trois-Rivieres Grand Sport 150.
After starting second on the grid, Marks dropped back in the field to fourth on the opening lap, but methodically worked his way back toward the front and settled into second place behind polesitter and race leader Scott Maxwell in the No. 05 Multimatic Motorsports Ford Mustang GT for the duration of his stint. Under one of the day's five full-course caution periods on Lap 32, Marks followed Maxwell onto pit road and handed the car over to Auberlen, who won the race off pit road.
However, Maxwell's Multimatic Motorsports teammate--Gunnar Jeannette in the team's No. 55 Ford Mustang GT--remained on track while the others pitted and assumed the race lead. Auberlen carefully picked his way through several other cars that were on the same strategy as the No. 55 team and kept the pressure on Jeannette. On Lap 56 of the 88-lap race and in an attempt to challenge Jeannette, Auberlen slid wide in Turn 10, knocking the car out of alignment.
Nevertheless, Auberlen managed to retain second place and took the lead when Jeannette finally came onto pit lane for his stop under another full-course caution on Lap 62. The timing of that and the two final full-course cautions combined with a battle for position among lapped cars behind him allowed Auberlen to run the rest of the race without pressure from behind and he cruised to a 6.064-second victory over Spencer Pumpelly in the No. 28 Race Prep Motorsports Porsche 996.
"I was thinking about passing the No. 55 Mustang for no good reason," Auberlen said. "He covered me really well, it was kind of a bad move and I hit the wall. When I did that, it smashed my tire straight in, and it blew my power steering. I had to drive the rest of the race without power steering, and it was getting to me near the end. Justin did exactly what he was supposed to do, save me a certain amount of brake pad, so I could go and run it hard. That's exactly what he did. Turner Motorsport gives us the best equipment we could ask for, and we've won again. We're going to try to bring this thing home now. "
The victory coupled with a sixth-place finish for No. 05 co-drivers Maxwell and GS points leader David Empringham allowed Marks to move out of a second-place tie with Maxwell in the championship standings and to within 25 points of Empringham with three of 11 events still remaining on the schedule. Marks admitted after the race that the time has come to push for the championship.
"I think today is the official start of the season within the season when the real chase for the championship starts," Marks said. "The deficit coming in here was about 35 points, so we knew that we were going to have to be lucky. That approach is the same approach you needed today to do well. You had to save your equipment and your brakes for the end. From here on out, we have to be consistent and keep doing what we're doing and hopefully we can get more luck for the end of the season."
Turning in a season-best second place performance was Pumpelly and his No. 28 Porsche co-driver, Tim Gaffney, who started 10th on the grid. The podium finish topped Gaffney's previous best result of fourth last weekend at Barber Motorsports Park and was Pumpelly's best result since a sixth-place run in the season-opener at Daytona International Speedway.
"It's great to be here right now, it's a long time coming," Gaffney said. "I didn't make it any easier on the guys by my qualifying spot. On my first quick lap, I spun it and touched the wall. The guys had to work all day, and they finished it this afternoon. It is satisfying to be up here on the podium. My job was to stay clean, and give Spencer a good car, which I did. It's been a ball."
"The fans are absolutely fantastic," Pumpelly added. "This is one of the best places to come in racing. The fans are really into the race, and I really enjoy being here. I have to thank my crew and my teammate, Tim, for this finish."
Also taking their first podium result of the season in third place were No. 7 Power Racing Team BMW M3 co-drivers Mike Keravich III and Owen Trinkler. The third-place performance eclipsed the duo's previous best result of eighth last weekend at Barber Motorsports Park, and Keravich and Trinkler have now posted season-best finishes in each of their last three races.
"Basically my job today was to set a pace so we had brakes at the end, and give Owen a car to drive home in," Keravich said. "The strategy is what did it today. We made the right calls, and we had enough yellows to make it to the end on fuel. He did a great job bringing it home."
"The day went pretty good," Trinkler said. "Mike had a nice first stint and we made the right call on pitting under that second yellow. I had really good brakes at the end, but the train got a really tight. I couldn't do anything to catch the top-two guys, but it's nice to have two BMWs on the podium. This is my first trip up here, and I hope we come back next year. I love it."
Devon Powell was the highest finishing Canadian with a fourth-place run alongside co-driver Don Knowles in the No. 11 Powell Motorsport Cadillac CTS-V. Jeannette--who led a total of 30 laps--and co-driver James Gue completed the top five in the No. 55 Mustang, and were the final drivers to finish on the lead lap.
While Maxwell led a race-high 31 laps, Empringham lost two laps at the beginning of his stint as the driver's door broke on the No. 05 Mustang during the Lap 32 pit stop. He got one lap back and fought past Charles Espenlaub in the No. 85 Knobel Racing Porsche 996 with two laps remaining to take sixth place. Espenlaub and his co-driver, Joe Fox, came home seventh, followed by Quebec natives Normand Guindon and Marc-Antoine Camirand, who co-drove the No. 07 Powell Motorsport Cadillac CTS-V to an eighth-place result. Michael Bavaro and Michael Ellis came home ninth in the No. 21 Bodymotion Racing Porsche 997, while Ian James and Tom Nastasi rounded out the top 10 in the No. 4 Blackforest Motorsports Ford Mustang GT.
Next up for the Grand-Am Cup Series is the EMCO Gears Classic at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on the weekend of August 26-28.