KENSAI/COMPASS360 LOOK TO RETAKE CHAMPIONSHIP LEAD
This week the Kensai Racing with Compass360's Acuras head to Utah's challenging Miller Motorsports Park, just outside of Salt Lake City, for the penultimate round of the Grand Am KONI Challenge. The team has had a solid run this season, with four of the team's drivers in top-ten positions in the driver's championship. In the team championship their #76 car sits second with the #74 car sixth, and Acura is leading the manufacturer's championship thanks in no small part to the team's efforts.
But the competition is very tight in the KONI series, and with only two races left to run, the team is still pushing hard. "We want to retake the driver's and team's championships at Miller," said Crew Chief Ray Lee. The team's #76 Acura TSX, driven by Billy Johnson and Karl Thomson, currently sits second, just four points back from the leading Turner BMW. "It's been a close battle all year between the two teams," noted Thomson, "and we expect another good fight at Miller." The team narrowed the gap at the Grand Prix of Trois Rivieres, Quebec, finishing second after maintaining a solid pace in a race of attrition.
Thomson and Johnson drove together at Miller last year, and enjoy the circuit. "It's a real driver's track," enthused Johnson. "Really technical, with long, sweeping fast corners; no real reference points and some nice elevation changes and banking." For just the third time this year, the ST-class cars will be on track with the faster GS- class, a feature both Thomson and Johnson relish. "The last time we combined with GS, at Watkins Glen, we took the win, just like we did at Daytona," remarked Thomson, "so that bodes well for Utah. Billy is always amazing in traffic, and I really enjoy driving amongst the GS cars, especially on a wide-open track like Miller."
The team's #74 Acura RSX-S, which sits sixth in the team championship, is driven by series veteran David Tuaty and rookie Matt Pritiko. Tuaty joined the team in mid-season, and the duo's finishes have steadily improved, resulting in a fourth place at Trois- Rivieres. "Matt and David really showed how strong they are in Quebec," said Lee. "They can challenge for the lead in these next two races and we'll do what we can to get them into onto the podium."
Beau Buisson will co-drive with Aaron Povoledo in the #75 TSX. Both are quick and consistent, and Miller should suit their style. Buisson led much of the season-opening Daytona race, and the #75 has continued to have strong showings at every event, but bad luck has kept it from the podium. Buisson, driving with Taz Harvey, has a season-high finish of fifth at Mosport.
"We're doing everything we can to get the championship!" exclaimed Thomson. "We were testing at Mosport last weekend, and I think we've made some measurable improvements. We're still aiming to get all three cars to finish in the top ten, and I do believe we can get two on the podium before the year is out." The team was very close at Trois Rivieres, with second and fourth place finishes.