Automatic Racing Finishes Eighth in VIR 250 After Leading Early in Race ALTON, Va. -- Automatic Racing had a thrilling race at Virginia International Raceway on Saturday, October 2, taking the lead in the first half of the race and finally ...
Automatic Racing Finishes Eighth in VIR 250 After Leading Early in Race
ALTON, Va. -- Automatic Racing had a thrilling race at Virginia International Raceway on Saturday, October 2, taking the lead in the first half of the race and finally finishing 8th overall in the VIR 250.
Jep Thornton and Eric Van Cleef shared the No. 09 Automatic Racing BMW M3 in the eighth round of the Grand-Am Cup season. Thornton was behind the wheel for qualifying, which was held the morning of the race, driving the car to a fast time of 2:07.392 to take the fourth spot on the overall and the Grand Sports grid.
At the green flag, Thornton wasted no time in moving up to third overall, where he stayed for the first 30 minutes of the three-hour race. After that, Thornton kept the BMW in fourth until the first caution period began ten minutes later.
Thornton opted to stay out on the track while some of the other teams made early pit stops, and at the restart Thornton was in the lead. He kept the No. 09 Automatic Racing BMW out front for 20 minutes while the rest of the field gave chase.
As the race neared the halfway point, Thornton had to make his first routine pit stop. Van Cleef took over the driving, and since the stop came during green-flag conditions, he was in 20th when he re-entered the track.
Van Cleef drove the rest of the race, stopping once for fuel during a full-course caution. He was able to work his way up to eighth before the checkered flag flew.
"It was a good race for us," said Thornton. "We chose not to pit on that first yellow and we got out there in the lead, but the (No. 11) Cadillac was strong and he had new tires and he got ahead of me. Then I ran out of gas and had to pit under green. We're really happy with the way things went. I'd like to thank Eric for putting in great drives at Homestead and VIR."
"I just got in the car and drove the wheels off it the best I could," said Van Cleef. "The car was running really well. A couple of cars had oiled down the track so I couldn't run real hard in some places. The team did an awesome job getting us in and out of the pits."
The penultimate round of the Grand-Am Cup Series will be on Saturday, October 9, at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama, giving the team just one week between races.
Automatic Racing is sponsored by Automatic Commercial Aircraft, LandAir, Engine Music Studios, Moton Shocks and Fikse Wheels.