Automatic Racing's Thornton and Segal Extend Points Lead with Third at Watkins Glen WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. -- Jep Thornton and Jeff Segal continued their streak of top finishes in the No. 09 Automatic Racing BMW M3, standing on the podium after...
Automatic Racing's Thornton and Segal Extend Points Lead with Third at Watkins Glen
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. -- Jep Thornton and Jeff Segal continued their streak of top finishes in the No. 09 Automatic Racing BMW M3, standing on the podium after finishing third in Saturday's KONI Challenge race at Watkins Glen.
Thornton set the tone for the weekend, putting in a quick qualifying lap to claim the third spot on the starting grid. From there, he and Segal both stayed out of the many on-track incidents that brought out a number of cautions. As the race neared completion, Segal stretched his lead over fourth and wrapped up the duo's second podium finish of the season. The result has extended Thornton and Segal's lead in the driver championship by two points, giving them a 16-point lead.
Both Thornton and Segal are quick to give praise to the other Automatic Racing team members for their successful weekend. "Our car was as good as we've had it. Joe Varde built and set up a perfect car," said Thornton. "Everything went smoothly and we had a great weekend."
"We figured there would be a lot of cautions and when I got in the car they told me to save fuel," noted Segal, who said that their fuel strategy played a significant role in their success. "Thanks to Ed Senf and Eric Schieb because they tune for the best fuel mileage and it really made a difference."
Steve Cameron and Rob Finlay scored their first top-ten finish for Automatic Racing, taking eighth in the No. 99 Mobile-Shop.com BMW M3. Cameron started the race from the fifth spot on the grid, then pitted during an early caution to turn the controls over to Finlay. Although he only got a few laps of practice in before the race, Finlay was able to run with the front pack to finish 8th.
"The race went really well," reflected Cameron. "The first part of the race was just about surviving and staying out of trouble. The car got better and better during my stint, and our strategy worked well for fuel consumption and track position."
"It was tough going into the race with so little track time," said Finlay. "It took me a few laps to really get comfortable in the car, but once I did I was able to stay with the lead group. We got a good result and are really looking forward to Barber next week."
Charlie Putman and Charles Espenlaub started the weekend with high hopes despite missing valuable setup time because of rain. Putman qualified 14th since the car was still being dialed in, but the team treated the qualifying session as a practice, continuing to make changes to the No. 91 BMW M3.
By race time, Putman and Espenlaub were happy with the setup and ready to make a run at the front. Putman got a great start and was working his way forward when he got caught up in one of the day's many incidents. A car stalled on track in a blind spot in front of Putman and two other drivers. "There were two cars in front of me. We checked up at the standing yellow but those cars blocked my vision," explained Putman. "I was nearly able to avoid the stalled car, but made contact with my left rear and spun. The guys on the team have such spirit and they're working so hard to get us back on track at Barber."