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Road Atlanta: Touring Car race report

POBST CRUISES TO SPEED WORLD CHALLENGE TOURING CAR VICTORY AT ROAD ATLANTA BRASELTON, Ga. (Sept. 29, 2006) -- Local resident Randy Pobst gave his hometown fans exactly what they came to see -- a victory in the penultimate round of the SCCA SPEED...

POBST CRUISES TO SPEED WORLD CHALLENGE TOURING CAR VICTORY AT ROAD ATLANTA

BRASELTON, Ga. (Sept. 29, 2006) -- Local resident Randy Pobst gave his hometown fans exactly what they came to see -- a victory in the penultimate round of the SCCA SPEED World Challenge Touring Car Championship at Road Atlanta, as part of the Petit Le Mans. Chip Herr, of Lititz, Pa., and Eric Curran, of East Hampton, Mass., finished out the top three.

From the standing start, Herr got a great jump in his No. 17 Valley Audi/Clear Capital/STaSIS Engineering Audi A4 and took the lead heading into Turn One with Pobst right on his bumper. Piloting the No. 73 Mazdaspeed/Tri-Point Motorsports Mazda 6, Pobst only needed nine corners to grab the lead from Herr in Turn 10a. Heading into Turn 10a, Herr got a little wide and Pobst put his Mazda 6 underneath the Audi A4 and never looked back winning by 2.403-seconds, at a record average speed of 95.911 mph.

"I knew my car was good," Pobst said of his Mazda 6 around the 12-turn, 2.54-mile course. "The Mazda 6 has never been better. It's been a constant work in progress for Tri-Point Motorsports and I just loved it this week! Its handling has given me the confidence to come here with these super-fast sweepers at Road Atlanta and that's my secret."

Pobst's win was his second this season and his 13th career SPEED World Challenge win.

The best racing of the day occurred between Curran and Herr as they battled for more than 20 laps, while Pobst continued to increase his lead. Curran grabbed second place from Herr on lap two and the pair continued to battle for position as Herr's Audi A4 was drafting within inches of Curran's No. 43 Acura Certified Pre-Owned/RealTime Racing Acura RSX. On lap 17, Curran's bumper was knocked loose as the result of bump drafting contact between Herr and Curran. With rear bumper damage to Curran's Acura RSX, Curran had difficulty keeping Herr behind him and on lap 20 Herr took second place for good when he passed Curran in Turn Nine.

"I think that we had a great start with our all-wheel drive as always, but I wanted to be patient and make sure that I knew we had a good car for the end of the race," Herr said. "I was trying to stay clean and run up front and once Randy [Pobst] and Eric [Curran] got a run on me it was really close. They got a run on me coming into Turn 10. I was basically a gentleman and tried to follow them. They had a little bit more on me. It was hard for me when the two of them stuck together and I got bumped out of the draft.

"With the Mazda and the Acura battle, I wanted to see if I could work with Eric, he's a really good driver. Last year, we battled against each other the whole race and we slowed each other down. My initial thought was to bump draft him and work with him. Once I had a run, toward the end, I knew his tires were going away and Randy was pulling away, so I thought I could try to catch Randy and it was just too late at that point."

After coming off a win at Mosport three weeks ago, this was Herr's fourth podium finish of the season.

Once Herr passed Curran, Curran continued to have his hands full as his bumper was flapping behind the car slowing it down much like a parachute.

"Overall it was a pretty good race," Curran said of his third place effort. "The most important thing today is that I helped Acura clinch the Manufacturers' Championship before the end of the year which is great. It wasn't an easy race. The RSX was obviously great in qualifying, putting it on the pole, but in the later part of the race we knew we'd be struggling with front grip on the car and we sure did. I couldn't compete with that all-wheel drive Audi -- traction, exiting the corners, the car not only has acceleration out of the corners, but it also has a lot of speed going down the straightaway, so there's just no match.

"Chip [Herr] was pushing me pretty hard out there. I mean he really got into the back of me a couple of times. I peeked in my mirror and saw the corner of the bumper pulled out and then I saw it getting worse and worse. Chip got into the back of me at least half a dozen times. Once I let Chip by, it was kind of like it wasn't worth trying to push the issue further."

Despite finishing third, Curran continued to prove that his Acura RSX was fast all week, including setting a new fast race lap record on lap four with a time of 1:34.120 (97.152 mph).

SPEED Touring Car Championship point leader Pierre Kleinubing, of Coconut Creek, Fla., drove his No. 42 Acura Certified Pre-Owned/RealTime Racing Acura TSX to a fourth place finish, while his RealTime Racing teammate Brandon Davis, of Denver, finished fifth in his No. 20 Acura Certified Pre-Owned/RealTime Racing Acura TSX.

Dan Aweida, of Boulder, Colo., earned Piloti Rookie of the Race honors for his drive in the No. 66 3R-Racing Dodge SRT4.

Rookie Hal Brown, of Blacksburg, Va., earned the B&M Shifters Holeshot Award for advancing six positions at the start of the race. Jeff Nowicki, of Birmingham, Mich., won the Sunoco Hard Charger Award for moving up a total of seven positions in the race to finish 20th.

Kleinubing, who has finished on the podium in seven of nine races, now leads Pobst in the Drivers' Championship by 11 points, 261 to 250. Herr is third with 211 points, followed by Peter Cunningham with 202 and Davis with 194.

With Curran's third place finish, Acura clinched the SPEED Touring Car Manufacturers' Championship Presented by RACER with 65 points, followed by Mazda (54), Audi (38), BMW (11) and Dodge (5).

Today's race will be broadcast Saturday, Oct. 14 at 2 p.m. (EDT) on SPEED Channel.

The next race for the SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge Touring Car Championship will be Oct. 20-22 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for the season finale.

-credit: www.world-challenge.com

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Series PWC
Drivers Jeff Nowicki , Randy Pobst , Pierre Kleinubing , Peter Cunningham , Eric Curran , Hal Brown , Chip Herr , Brandon Davis , Dan Aweida
Teams RealTime Racing