Automatic Racing Completes Two-Day Test at Virginia International Raceway ALTON, Va. -- Automatic Racing took advantage of the long break between Grand-Am Cup rounds by heading to Virginia International Raceway for a two-day test of the team's...
Automatic Racing Completes Two-Day Test at Virginia International Raceway
ALTON, Va. -- Automatic Racing took advantage of the long break between Grand-Am Cup rounds by heading to Virginia International Raceway for a two-day test of the team's four BMW M3s last week.
The opening round of the series at Daytona International Raceway in January held promise for Automatic Racing, with 20-year-old Jeff Segal earning a second-row spot on the starting grid. After the green flag, though, things did not go as planned as a myriad of electrical problems kept the team from a hoped-for top-five finish.
Virginia International Raceway will host round two of the season in April, as well as the unprecedented 12-hour season finale in October. With nearly three months of downtime between the first two races, Automatic Racing has been working to get their BMW M3s in top shape.
"Our cars were fast at Daytona, but we needed reliability," explained David Russell, who co-drives the No. 90 M3 with Segal. "This test also enabled us to try a variety of setups. This track rewards the driver who's really precise with car placement. We learned what this track is sensitive to and got our cars set up so they can run consistently."
Consistency will be a key factor, especially during the long season finale, which will mark the longest race in Grand-Am Cup history. During the test, Automatic Racing evaluated various brake pad compounds and ran long stints to simulate the endurance format.
Russell is looking forward to the 12 hour event, which will share the weekend with the GT Live program. "It sounds like Grand American is going in the right direction with the promotion they're doing and with the GT Live program coming, too" he said. "It's going to bring out a new demographic, all those tuner-car enthusiasts who probably have never seen this kind of racing. I think they're going to love it, because we're probably going to have 75 cars here banging wheels for 12 hours. It's going to be awesome."
"The team has made a lot of improvements to the car since Daytona," commented Matt Mullins, who co-drives the No. 09 Skinny Cow Milk/Automatic Racing BMW M3 with Jep Thornton. "I haven't done a lot of laps at VIR, so it was great to drive this car there and to see how well it performed. It gives us a good head start for the race in April, so we'll be ready to go when we arrive that weekend."
Nick Longhi, who shares the No. 91 BMW M3 with Emil Assentato, was pleased with the outcome of the test. "Solving our reliability issue was the biggest concern. We did that, and it took a lot of work. I'd like to thank (Crew Chief) Joe Varde and Ed Senf for all of their effort," said Longhi. "Once that was settled, we got to tweak the car a bit, working on the brakes and handling. For me and Emil, the season really starts now."
Automatic Racing would like to extend their condolences to the friends and family of racer Josh Rehm, who was killed last weekend in a car accident.
Automatic Racing will be back on track April 21-22 for the Grand-Am Cup race at Virginia International Raceway. Fans can keep up with the team online at www.AutomaticRacing.com.