Automatic Racing Third for First Hour Before Mechanical Problems at Barber LEEDS, Ala. -- Automatic Racing was on their way to earning another podium finish at Barber Motorsports Park before a broken shift linkage dropped the team out of ...
Automatic Racing Third for First Hour Before Mechanical Problems at Barber
LEEDS, Ala. -- Automatic Racing was on their way to earning another podium finish at Barber Motorsports Park before a broken shift linkage dropped the team out of contention during Saturday's Barber 250, round nine of the Grand-Am Cup Series.
Jep Thornton qualified third in the No. 09 Automatic Racing BMW M3, turning a fast time of 1:38.366 around Barber's 2.3-mile, 16-turn road course. It is the highest qualifying position that the Grand Sports team has earned this season.
Thornton started the three-hour race, and a developing shifting problem dropped him back to sixth at the start. In the opening laps, however, Thornton moved up to third, where he was able to stay for the first hour.
When a full-course caution began after an hour of racing, Thornton pitted and handed the BMW over to his co-driver Nick Longhi. Automatic Racing was in fifth after the round of pit stops, but following the restart Longhi found himself leading a four-way battle for fourth.
Longhi put the BMW back in third place before a broken shift linkage forced him to pit. The Automatic Racing crew took the car behind the wall and made hasty repairs, but the team lost 15 laps.
Thornton took the repaired car back onto the track with half an hour remaining in the race, and he fought his way through traffic to finish 23rd in the Grand Sports class.
"All weekend the car has been strong," reflected Thornton. "We knew the car was going to qualify high, we just didn't know how high. I blew the start, which wasn't good. We were having problems all weekend with the shifter. But it was running really good in qualifying and in practice before the race, so we decided to leave it. I felt good about my stint, but unfortunately we had a mechanical."
Longhi commented that, "everything was going according to plan. We had a good pit stop and I got in. Pretty quickly I realized that I was having a problem downshifting to third and upshifting to fourth gear. On the restart things were pretty hectic, and it became apparent that it was getting worse. Then it completely broke and I was stuck in third. Everything else was great. The car was good otherwise, and the crew was perfect."
The final round of the 2004 Grand-Am Cup Series will be held at California Speedway on Saturday, October 30.
Fans can find Automatic Racing news, pictures and a bulletin board at www.AutomaticRacing.com.
Automatic Racing is sponsored by Automatic Commercial Aircraft, LandAir, Engine Music Studios, Moton Shocks and Fikse Wheels.