SCC: Birmingham: Automatic Racing preview

Automatic Racing Ready for a Hot Time in Alabama LEEDS, Ala.--Automatic Racing returns to the southeast this weekend for the KONI Challenge race at Barber Motorsports Park. Racing at the Alabama track promises heat, humidity and setup...

Automatic Racing Ready for a Hot Time in Alabama

LEEDS, Ala.--Automatic Racing returns to the southeast this weekend for the KONI Challenge race at Barber Motorsports Park. Racing at the Alabama track promises heat, humidity and setup challenges, but the team has proven that Barber can also be the place for success.

Charlie Putman and Charles Espenlaub will be looking for a little of that success for the No. 91 Automatic Racing BMW M3. The pair finished eighth at Barber last year, and they hope to improve on that result this time around.

"That track always throws some unknowns at you. With the heat and humidity, finding the right setup is like hitting a moving target," said Putman. "This year we'll have more time to work with the car and get it sorted out. We want a podium finish for the team. We aren't going to be cautious, just trying to garner points: we're going to go for it at every race."

Mark Hillestad and Barry Waddell will co-drive the No. 99 Automatic Racing/H&S Tool BMW M3. This marks their first time competing at Barber, but they tested the M3 there earlier this year.

The cold, rainy test was very different than the hot and humid conditions expected this weekend, but Waddell noted the advantage of learning Barber in the wet. "Because it's always so hot during this race, I've heard stories of tire degradation and a slick track," he said. "It's a big difference from our February test, but we got to go out on a slick track, which afforded us some valuable experience. We're looking forward to the challenge of Barber, but we're not looking forward to the heat!"

"We have five top-ten finishes in a row, but it's been a humbling experience," noted Hillestad. "This is the toughest time of the season for me because I haven't yet raced at the next four tracks we visit."

The KONI Challenge race starts at 8:20 a.m. on Sunday, July 19, in an effort to beat the heat. Automatic Racing will be ready to beat the competition in the 2.5-hour event.

-credit: ar

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Charles Espenlaub , Charlie Putman , Mark Hillestad , Barry Waddell
Teams Automatic Racing