SCC: VIR: Automatic Racing race notes

Automatic Racing Concludes KONI Challenge Season with 5th at VIR ALTON, Va.-- Automatic Racing concluded the 2009 KONI Challenge season on a high note, taking fifth and thirteenth during Sunday's four-hour endurance race at Virginia...

Automatic Racing Concludes KONI Challenge Season with 5th at VIR

ALTON, Va.-- Automatic Racing concluded the 2009 KONI Challenge season on a high note, taking fifth and thirteenth during Sunday's four-hour endurance race at Virginia International Raceway.

The team was optimistic heading into the weekend, and with good reason: in addition to being a favorite track for the Automatic drivers, the long race gave the team the opportunity to show off their strategy skills.

Yesterday's fifth-place is the best VIR result to date for Charlie Putman and Charles Espenlaub, who finished eighth last year in the No. 91 Automatic Racing BMW M3. "The car was really good for the race," said Espenlaub. "Our brakes were fading at the end, or we might have had a podium finish. I'm proud of the effort everyone put in this season, and hopefully next year things will go our way."

Putman added, "We got out-horsepowered a little by the V8s, but the car did well throughout the race, Charles and I drove well, and we got a good finish. A fifth is something to be proud of with a field of this depth. John Terry, our crew chief, and Joe Varde were great, and we enjoyed this year immensely."

Mark Hillestad and Barry Waddell wrapped up their season with 13th in the No. 99 Automatic Racing/H&S Tool (www.handstool.net) BMW M3. The finish caps a learning year after a hiatus for the pair, who are already strategizing for their 2010 race program.

"We saw every checkered flag this season," commented Waddell. "That really speaks to the team's preparation and our approach to the season. To be there at the end of every race felt really good. Our goal this year was to learn as much as we could, and we look forward to applying our experience in the future."

Automatic Racing has always been known as a tight-knit team with a friendly atmosphere, and this year was no exception. "We really had a great team and great drivers," noted Automatic's David Russell. "Everyone worked really well together: our team was very cohesive and we were all working toward the same goal. We're looking forward to bigger and better things in 2010.

Now that the race season has concluded, Automatic is jumping right into their busy off-season testing schedule.

-credit: ar

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Charles Espenlaub , Joe Varde , Mark Hillestad , Barry Waddell , David Russell
Teams Automatic Racing