SCC: Watkins Glen: Automatic Racing preview

Automatic Racing: A Watkins Glen History Lesson ORLANDO, Fl. -- After a brief three-week break, Automatic Racing is once again loading up the transporters and heading north, this time to New York's legendary Watkins Glen, for round four of...

Automatic Racing: A Watkins Glen History Lesson

ORLANDO, Fl. -- After a brief three-week break, Automatic Racing is once again loading up the transporters and heading north, this time to New York's legendary Watkins Glen, for round four of the KONI Challenge Series.

Jep Thornton and Jeff Segal have finished inside the top five in every round so far this season, and they hope that history will repeat itself this weekend. The drivers of the No. 09 Automatic Racing BMW M3 have been posting consistent results, following up their fourth place during the opener at Daytona with a win at Lime Rock and fifth at Mosport.

That might all sound good on paper, but Segal concedes that after earning a win, a top five finish doesn't seem like enough. Segal and Thornton have proven they have the talent to land on the podium, and the Imported Car Store/LandAir/Engine Music Studios M3 has been in top form this year. Watkins Glen might be the perfect spot for another victory: Automatic Racing holds the qualifying track record at Watkins Glen, and Thornton and Segal claimed second place in the race last year.

The No. 09 won't be the only Automatic Racing M3 vying for victory in New York. Steve Cameron and Rob Finlay will be piloting the No. 99 Mobile-Shop.com M3. Cameron qualified third at Mosport but the team was unable to follow it up with a top finish after an unscheduled pit stop. They are anxious to earn some points this weekend.

"I'm excited about returning to Watkins Glen," commented Finlay. "I prefer fast circuits, and this one is certainly a high-speed track." Finlay added that they are hosting a family on behalf of Make-A-Wish this weekend, and they look forward to meeting the family and welcoming them to the team.

The No. 91 Automatic Racing M3 will feature the driving talents of Charles Espenlaub and Charlie Putman. They were fourth in points heading into the round at Mosport, and both of them are looking forward to getting back into the championship chase.

Espenlaub and Putman both drove in the recent World Challenge round at Watkins Glen, so they have plenty of laps around the 3.4-mile road course and should have the advantage when the green flag flies this weekend.

"We think that anytime we're on a good track we have the potential to win, and Watkins Glen is definitely a good track for our M3," said Putman. "After missing out on points at Mosport, we're setting our goals higher to make up for it. The championship isn't out of the picture for us."

Automatic Racing's crew and drivers will stay busy on the Fourth of July with qualifying for the Grand Sport entries. The 250-mile KONI Challenge Race will begin at 4:40 p.m. and race into twilight on Saturday, July 5.

-credit: ar

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Charles Espenlaub , Jep Thornton , Jeff Segal , Rob Finlay , Charlie Putman , Steve Cameron
Teams Automatic Racing