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Watkins Glen: RealTime Acura weekend report

Two More Podiums at The Glen Kleinubing takes points lead after Wittmer adversity The consistency and strength of the RealTime Acura SPEED Touring Car team was demonstrated again this past weekend at Watkins Glen International. Teammates Peter...

Two More Podiums at The Glen
Kleinubing takes points lead after Wittmer adversity

The consistency and strength of the RealTime Acura SPEED Touring Car team was demonstrated again this past weekend at Watkins Glen International. Teammates Peter Cunningham and Pierre Kleinubing placed their Acura Certified Pre-Owned Vehicles-sponsored TSXs on the front row of the grid in Saturday's Qualifying session, with points leader Kuno Wittmer lined up in fourth and Dino Crescentini two rows back in eighth.

Cunningham's pole was his 31st in SCCA Pro Racing World Challenge competition, still second on the all-time list behind 12-year RealTime veteran Kleinubing by two, 33-31.

As the RealTime crew arose this raceday morning, they looked outside to see if it looked like rain. The forecast had not been promising all weekend, but the Finger Lakes Region of upstate New York was apparently far enough away from the deluge and flooding that devastated the Midwest, so the historic 3.4-mile circuit had remained dry. Other than a few drops two hours before the start, the added challenge of racing in wet or changing conditions was not in the cards.

Cunningham kept the lead from the standing start with Kleinubing in tow until a pair of Mazdas made their presence known and successfully passed the second place Acura. Wittmer completed the top five, but was locked in battle with another Mazda driver. Unfortunately this skirmish ended with Wittmer in the gravel trap in the 'Bus Stop', causing a full course caution.

Wittmer's two race victories and other top finishes had him laden with 90 pounds of REWARDS weight, which did not help his situation. He returned to the fight only slightly askew, but was one lap down from the lead. The championship contender was now forced to rethink his objectives.

As Cunningham accelerated for the restart, Michael Galati's Mazda powered by to take the point into Turn 1. Meanwhile, Kleinubing got by the third place Mazda of Lime Rock winner Chip Herr.

Unfortunately, the only other racing taking place occurred in two more short bursts. The second yellow was caused by a similar problem to Wittmer's, but the third caution of the day was a doozy.

A four-car crash coming off the last corner took out all three entries from the Bimmerworld BMW team along with a Mazda. It also effectively ended the day's fight because of the amount of time it took to clean up the mess and repair the safety barriers. Each of the drivers was okay, but that was more than you could say for their equipment.

As the 50-minute time limit expired with the racers puttering around behind the safety car, the winner was Galati, the fifth different driver to win a Touring Car race in the six rounds completed thus far in the ten-race 2008 championship. Cunningham scored his 90th career top-3 series result in second. Kleinubing completed the podium in third, improving his chances to secure his fifth SPEED Touring Car Drivers' Championship.

Crescentini incurred a flat tire forcing him to pit lane. A quick change by the RealTime crew helped him to finish a season-best sixth.

Wittmer recovered nicely to salvage ninth after the carnage. You'll see his Ginsu Knife display of slicing and dicing on many a highlight reel before the year is over as he successfully negotiated the pinballing cars on the front straight.

The fight for the championship between the top three Acura drivers is now closer than ever. Kleinubing moves to the lead in the Drivers' points by a 611-to-585 margin over Wittmer, with Cunningham closing in at 572 markers. The season is far from over, but RealTime's drivers continue to place well and are inching away from the remaining contenders.

With Acura's pole earning one point and Mazda's win giving them a net gain of two in the race itself, the Manufacturers' Championship lead for Acura over Mazda is now shaved by one, 51 to 41.

First year RTR driver Glenn Bocchino had another commitment this weekend so his Acura RSX was set aside in his absence, or so the team thought. In Qualifying, Rookie of the Year contender Patrick Lindsey suffered an unfortunate off course excursion, damaging his Mazda beyond hope to repair in time for the race.

Not wanting to see the promising young driver sit on the sidelines, the RealTime team allowed Lindsey to start the race in the spare Acura so he could salvage a few points for his trans-continental journey. By completing one lap and parking it, he scored 43 points that he couldn't have done in his own equipment.

-credit: rtat

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Series PWC
Drivers Pierre Kleinubing , Michael Galati , Peter Cunningham , Kuno Wittmer , Chip Herr , Glenn Bocchino , Dino Crescentini , Patrick Lindsey