SCC: VIR II: Automatic Racing preview

Automatic Racing Finishing Grand-Am Cup Season with Three Cars and Six Hours ALTON, Va. -- The 2006 Grand-Am Cup season wraps up this weekend at Virginia International Raceway, and Automatic Racing will be taking on the challenge of running...

Automatic Racing Finishing Grand-Am Cup Season with Three Cars and Six Hours

ALTON, Va. -- The 2006 Grand-Am Cup season wraps up this weekend at Virginia International Raceway, and Automatic Racing will be taking on the challenge of running three BMW M3s in the six-hour Grand Sport finale.

The No. 09 Automatic Racing BMW M3 will be piloted by Dave Riddle, Kris Wilson and David Russell. The team's No. 90 entry will be shared by Jeff Segal, Nick Longhi and Darius Grala, who is making his debut with the team this weekend. Emil Assentato and LP Dumoulin will co-drive the No. 91 BMW.

Automatic Racing is no stranger to VIR, and the team has earned top results there in the past. During the 2005 season, Segal qualified third before going on to finish seventh. Riddle and Wilson had success that day, too, posting a finish of ninth.

While this weekend marks the second time this season that Automatic Racing has competed at Virginia International Raceway, there are two challenging firsts for the team. Every other race this season has been a short endurance format, with only one driver change. With the extension to six hours, a first in series history, the team will have to adopt a different race strategy and plan for a lot more pit stops and driver changes.

In addition, the Grand Sport race is scheduled to begin at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday. The shrinking days of fall mean that the final hour of the race will be run in darkness. Drivers will have a chance to adapt to circulating Virginia International Raceway's 3.27-mile road course during a night practice session on Friday.

"VIR is going to be wide open," said Segal. "No one has any idea who can run six hours. The team would like nothing more than a win at this point, and we've been close a lot this year. We'll have to be conservative since it's an endurance race, but we're going to go for it."

"I always enjoy going to VIR," said Russell, who recently spent a few days at the historic track with BMW. "The facilities there are great, and it's such a beautiful area. We're staying at the Lodge outside of turn three, so we're looking forward to spending the whole weekend there. Most of us have raced at night before, but it will still be a challenge since there will be drivers out there who haven't. The trick will be to stay out of trouble early, and then start racing at dark.

Practice begins on Friday, October 5. The three Automatic Racing BMWs will qualify on Saturday, October 6 at 10:05 a.m., followed by the six-hour season finale at 3:00 p.m.

-credit: ar

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Darius Grala , Emil Assentato , Nick Longhi , Dave Riddle , David Russell
Teams Automatic Racing