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Road Atlanta: Tri-Point Motorsports race report

Pobst Puts Tri-Point Mazda6 on Top Step of Podium at Road Atlanta WCTC Event While Mazda Clinches Second Place in Manufacturer's ChampionshipBattle Road racing ace and hometown hero Randy Pobst of Gainesville, Georgia piloted his ...

Pobst Puts Tri-Point Mazda6 on Top Step of Podium at Road Atlanta WCTC Event While Mazda Clinches Second Place in Manufacturer's ChampionshipBattle

Road racing ace and hometown hero Randy Pobst of Gainesville, Georgia piloted his #73 Tri-Point Motorsports prepared Mazda6 Speed World Challenge Touring Car entry to a dominant win at the season's penultimate round at Road Atlanta this weekend. After a strong third place qualifying in a very competitive field, team driver Jeff Altenburg of Ellicott City, Maryland finished seventh in his #72 Mazda6, while Dino Crescentini of Malibu, California brought the #74 Tri-Point Mazdaspeed entry home twelfth.

Strong From the Start

Pobst and Altenburg showed up to Road Atlanta and took to the track with some quick laps right out of the box. In fact, both Randy and Jeff placed in the top five for each of the practice sessions before qualifying, and the strong performances bode well for the upcoming race.

Qualifying near the Front

With a clean precise lap of the undulating and famously challenging Road Atlanta circuit Pobst ran his bright blue and white Mazda6 to second on the grid with a lap of 1:33.796. Altenburg, who appeared very happy with the balance of his #72 Mazdaspeed racer followed his teammate in the qualifying lineup with a third place at a time of 1:34.158. Crescentini, not far behind on raw time qualified thirteenth as he stopped the clocks with a 1:35.331.

Hard Earned Win and Great Drives

After a heavy downpour of rain immediately following qualifying, race day dawned clear and crisp with the temperature hovering near 60 degrees as the green flag dropped on the 31-car TC field. Both Pobst and Altenburg got very strong starts with Pobst getting by pole position winner Eric Curran in the #43 Realtime Racing Acura RSX-s.

Altenburg, who was lined up directly behind Curran at the start closed on the Acura driver as the cars streaked toward turn one. Altenburg moved left before the slightly banked turn one area to move by the #43 who had shut the door on the right side of the circuit from the start of the race. Altenburg managed to get a run going around the outside of Curran's car in turn one before he dropped a wheel on the left side of the circuit and ended up chasing his Mazda6 through the grass and reentered the track at the back of the field.

Altenburg, never one to give up, set out on an electrifying charge through the field that saw him work his way to 11th just past the halfway point of the race. Altenburg's "never die" attitude saw him pass the checkered flag having worked his way to 7th place. Despite not finishing where he had intended, it was obvious that the paddock saw Altenburg's performance as the drive of the race.

Pobst meanwhile was ambushed, like Altenburg, at the start by the all-wheel- drive traction of #17 StaSIS Audi A4 of Chip Herr. Herr lead into turn one, but Pobst was right on his tail and was able to squeeze by the Audi driver in a brilliantly timed pass going into the hard braking zone before turn 10a. Curran was able to eventually work his way past Herr's Audi and began to slowly gain on Pobst. The Toyo tires on Randy's Mazda6 held, and Curran began to fade later in the race. Pobst never looked back, as he put his head down and pushed his #73 Mazda6 all the way to the checkered, leading every lap for the well earned win.

Crescentini had shown some good speed during the practice sessions, but seemed unable to find a setup that would allow him to continue to improve his lap times. After his 13th place qualifying run, Dino ran a clean race to bring the #74 home 12th. Dino, undeniably quick in the car, has struggled at times to convert his speed to higher place finishes, but it is simply a matter of time before things come good for the Tri-Point driver.

Championship Races

With his win, Randy has closed the gap to series leader Pierre Kleinubing (Realtime Acura TSX) to only eleven points with only one race left in the 2006 season. The battle for the driver's championship is shaping up to be a knock down drag out of fight that will be contested at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in late October.

In addition to Randy's win, the Tri-Point squad was also encouraged by the fact that Mazda clinched second in the manufacturer's title. Although Tri- Point team principal Craig Nagler made it clear at the start of the season that the manufacturer's title for Mazda was their number one priority, the team's strong performances and competitive run against title winner Acura made the season a successful one.

Driver Quotes

Jeff Altenburg - #72

"I got a great start with a good jump on the lights, but Chip's (Herr) Audi is hard to beat at the starts. I got a good run on Curran and moved to the left to go around him, but Chip was already there, so I had to wait until we were in turn one. I tried him around the outside, but ended up in the junk on the outside of the turn and then I went through the grass. It took me that whole first lap just to catch up to the back of the field after my off, and then I just drove flat out for the whole race to get as far through the field as I could. Even though I normally start the races a bit conservatively, trying to save the car for the finish, I found that my Mazda6 was strong all the way through the race today, and I was definitely catching the group of cars ahead of me as the checkered flag came out. A lot of folks congratulated me on a good drive today, and although it is nice to hear, I can't help but be disappointed since I feel that with the strength of my car today we could have seen a Tri-Point one-two."

Randy Pobst - #73

"Two days before the race, I told Steve Sanders of Mazda Motorsports that the Tri-Point Motorsports Mazda 6 has never run better. After the last practice, I said to team owner Craig Nagler, 'Don't touch it. Don't even wash it. It's ready.' One clear sign that we've had a breakthrough was the degree to which I enjoyed driving it. I woke up confident and ready to push it to the limit; really wanting to. We learned from the rain at Mosport, and now the car is better everywhere. No, actually, the StopTech brakes did not improve. They've always been fantastic. Same with the reliable Comptech engine. It is thrilling to win again, and to go to Laguna with a clear shot at the driver's title for Mazda and the team."

Dino Crescentini - #74

"It was a pretty decent race for me today and I had some good dices with the cars around me. It was encouraging to have a nice clean run. No mistakes, and the car was strong through the whole race."

-credit: tri-point motorsports

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Series PWC
Drivers Randy Pobst , Jeff Altenburg , Dino Crescentini