PWC

Watkins Glen: Series event pre-race notes

SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge Championships SCCA SPEED GT Round Four SCCA SPEED Touring Car Round Six Event/Circuit: Sahlen's Six Hours of the Glen Watkins Glen International 11-turn,...

SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge Championships

SCCA SPEED GT Round Four
SCCA SPEED Touring Car Round Six

Event/Circuit:         Sahlen's Six Hours of the Glen

Watkins Glen International
11-turn, 3.4-mile road course

Qualifying:
SPEED Touring Car: Saturday, June 7, 8:00 a.m. (EDT)
SPEED GT: Saturday, June 7, 9:55 a.m. (EDT)

Green Light:
SPEED Touring Car: Sunday, June 8, 8:35 a.m. (EDT)
SPEED GT: Sunday, June 8, 10:50 a.m. (EDT)

Race Length:
SPEED Touring Car: 20 laps/ 50 minutes (whichever comes first)
SPEED GT: 22 laps/ 50 minutes (whichever comes first)

Television:
SPEED Touring Car: Wednesday, June 18, noon (EDT)
SPEED GT: Wednesday, June 18, 1 p.m. (EDT)

Timing/Scoring: Live Timing & Scoring and lap notes via the SCCA® Pit Board are available for all sessions through www.world-challenge.com.

THE MOST RELEVANT ROAD RACING IN THE WORLD

Now in its 19th consecutive year, SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge has built its legacy around providing fans the most competitive road racing in the world, and the series has earned well-deserved praise the past few years from publications such as Car & Driver and RACER Magazine for doing just that. But what really sets SPEED World Challenge GT and Touring Car apart from all other series is the "everyday" element it brings each event. World-class drivers piloting production-based cars that come from more than 15 auto manufacturers -- it's a formula that has and will continue to serve the interests of manufacturers, drivers and, most importantly, automotive enthusiasts and race fans.

Halfway Home or Just the Start?

While the SCCA Pro Racing SPEED Touring Car season gets cracking on the second half of the season (Round Six), it seems like the SCCA SPEED GT Championship has only just begun (Round Three). In both classes the names at the top of the order are very familiar, but they happen to be in a different order than one might have expected at the beginning of the year.

Lassoing a Mustang

Who could have suspected at the beginning of the season that 22-year-old Brandon Davis would be leading the SCCA SPEED GT Drivers' Championship in his first full-year of SCCA SPEED GT competition with a car that was relatively untested in the series? Well, here we are for Round Four of the Championship at Watkins Glen International and the recent University of Denver grad (who is missing commencement to race this weekend) has a pole, a win and nary a finish outside the top five to his credit. Driving the No. 10 ACS/Sun Microsystems Ford Mustang Cobra this weekend, Davis has only been to the Glen once before, racing an Acura in SCCA SPEED Touring Car in last year's doubleheader, finishing 11th in both races. His teammate and father Mike Davis (No. 11 ACS/Sun Microsystems Ford Mustang Cobra) has never raced the Glen before. Ford is relying on the duo to maintain their slim lead over Porsche in the Manufacturers' Championship.

A mere five points behind Davis is defending SCCA SPEED GT Champion Randy Pobst, who made history at the Glen last year by taking three professional race wins in a single weekend. Pobst not only stood on the top step of the SCCA SPEED GT podium, but swept the SCCA SPEED Touring Car doubleheader in a MAZDA6. Pobst kicked off the 2008 season with win at Sebring followed by a runner-up finish to Davis on the streets of Long Beach before narrowly missing the podium at Miller Motorsports Park. Whether it's rain or shine, look for Pobst to be out front in the No. 1 K-PAX Racing Porsche 911 GT3 this weekend.

Team Remington Cadillac driver Andy Pilgrim is the only driver to finish on the podium in each of the first three rounds; they don't call him "Mr. Consistency" for nothing. Driving the No. 8 Remington Shaving Cadillac CTS-V, Pilgrim sits third, 20 points behind Davis in the Championship-a margin easily made up in a race weekend. He had the pole at Watkins Glen last year, but a stop-and-go penalty for jumping the start took him out of contention for the win. He did carry on to finish fourth however, so who knows how he could perform if all goes right, and Cadillac would certainly appreciate the points to leapfrog over Porsche in the SCCA SPEED GT Manufacturers' Championship Presented by RACER Magazine.

After finishing sixth at Miller Motorsports Park, Jeff Courtney and the No. 99 KENDA/TJM/MPI Coin/Badger Tire Dodge Viper currently leads the contingent of Dodge Viper pilots in the Drivers' Championship, followed closely by Jason Daskalos in the No. 5 Coyote Gravel Products Dodge Viper. Both drivers are only in their second year of SCCA SPEED GT competition, but are already representing Dodge well.

Speaking of Dodge Vipers, it was the No. 13 Foametix/Woodhouse Performance Viper of Tommy Archer that took the checkered flag at Miller Motorsports Park, earning the Woodhouse Performance team its first-ever SCCA SPEED GT victory. Archer will be back in the car this weekend at the Glen, where he finished fifth last year.

Other SCCA SPEED GT drivers to watch include: James Sofronas (Porsche 911 GT3), Eric Curran (Chevrolet Corvette), Tony Gaples (Chevrolet Corvette), Michael McCann (Cadillac CTS-V) and Smithtown N.Y. driver Joey Scarallo (Pontiac GTO).

The RealTime Triple Threat

Gazing over the SCCA SPEED Touring Car Drivers' Championship table, you'll notice RealTime drivers claim the top three spots and you won't be able to find a podium thus far that didn't have one of them on it. Canadian Kuno Wittmer currently leads the pack in the No. 44 Acura/RealTime/Eibach/RedLine Acura TSX after capturing his first-career win at VIRginia International Raceway and then backing it up with win number two in the first half of the SCCA SPEED Touring Car doubleheader at Lime Rock Park. In fact, to that point, Wittmer had yet to finish off the podium, but only two days later, a mechanical problem in qualifying held Wittmer to a sixth-place grid position and after a scuffle on the opening lap, fifth was the best he could muster. It was, however, still enough to keep a six point margin over teammate Pierre Kleinubing.

Driving the No. 43 Acura/RealTime/Eibach/Redline Acura TSX, Kleinubing was the victor in the season opener at Sebring and after tossing away a possible win at VIR, entered solid podium finishes in Utah and Connecticut. Kleinubing's Watkins Glen record is also full of podium finishes, barring the second part of the doubleheader here last year, where a run in with Jeff Altenburg resulted in an uncharacteristic DNF.

Peter Cunningham (No. 42 Acura/RealTime/Eibach/RedLine Acura TSX) completes the trifecta at the top of the Drivers' Championship, but as the RealTime team owner, he is likely keeping an even keener eye on the Manufacturers' Championship, which Acura leads by 11 points over Mazda.

Indeed, a Mazda was the first to cross the finish-line in race two at Lime Rock Park. It was the No. 97 Mazdaspeed/Tindol Motorsports MAZDA6 of Chip Herr, who, after some rough races at the beginning of the year, has settled in, and now finds himself fourth in the Drivers' Championship. Driving an all-wheel drive Audi A4 at the Glen last year, Herr had a forgetful weekend with a 10th and ninth-place finish. Now in the front-wheel drive MAZDA6 Herr knows if he can nail the standing start, he's a contender for the race win.

Rookie Jason Saini (No. 74 Mazdaspeed/Stoptech/Racinghart MAZDA6) was the other Mazda driver to bring the heat to RealTime, earning his first career-pole and win at Miller Motorsports Park. After the elation of Utah, Lime Rock Park was a bit of a downer for the 2007 MX-5 Cup Champion who finished sixth in the first half and collected his worst finish to date (13th) in the second half, after a first corner incident forced him to pit for repairs. He may be at a disadvantage this weekend with little experience at the Glen, but teammate Charles Espenlaub can help him out with that. The No. 73 Mazdaspeed/Stoptech/Racinghart MAZDA6 driver collected a third and fifth-place finish at the Glen last year.

Staying true to their reputation, the 2008 season has been a mixed bag thus far for BimmerWorld, although this year seems to be bringing more good than bad luck compared to seasons past. Both Seth Thomas and James Clay were on the podium at Watkins Glen, and Thomas (No. 38 BimmerWorld BMW 325i) narrowly missed another podium in the second race at Lime Rock Park. Unfortunately, in that same race, Clay's No. 36 BimmerWorld BMW 325i lost a differential on the standing start, resulting in a DNF. Both drivers would like to forget their dismal doubleheader here last year and are hoping the bad luck has run it's course this season, since their BMWs are hard to catch when things are going right.

Other SCCA SPEED Touring Car drivers to look out for include: Michael Galati (MAZDA6), Nick Esayian (BMW 325i), Eric Olberz (Dodge SRT-4), Payton Wilson (Lexus IS 300) and Jim Daniels (MAZDA6).

-credit: scca

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About this article
Series PWC
Drivers Andy Pilgrim , Tommy Archer , Peter Cunningham , Eric Curran , Charles Espenlaub , Jeff Altenburg , Nick Esayian , Kuno Wittmer , Chip Herr , James Sofronas , Tony Gaples , Michael McCann , Seth Thomas , Brandon Davis , Mike Davis , Jeff Courtney , Eric Olberz , Payton Wilson , Jason Daskalos , Jim Daniels , Jason Saini , Remington Cadillac