Automatic Racing Finishes 4th at Daytona in Grand-Am Cup Season Opener DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- The No. 09 Automatic Racing BMW M3 crossed the finish line in fourth at the conclusion of the Grand-Am Cup Daytona 200 on February 4, getting the...
Automatic Racing Finishes 4th at Daytona in Grand-Am Cup Season Opener
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- The No. 09 Automatic Racing BMW M3 crossed the finish line in fourth at the conclusion of the Grand-Am Cup Daytona 200 on February 4, getting the 2005 season off to a strong start with a top-five finish.
Jep Thornton qualified second at the team's home track of Daytona International Raceway, starting the race on the front row. He settled into fourth place in the opening laps in the Grand Sports-class BMW, putting distance between himself and the rest of the field.
As teams began to make their routine pit stops, Thornton found himself in the lead before he pitted shortly past the one-hour mark to hand the BMW over to David Russell. Russell entered the track in eighth but worked his way back up to fourth.
"We were really pleased with the front-row qualifying, and once we got on the track we were running with the Mustangs pretty good," said Thornton, referring to the Mustangs that finished first and second in the race. "We're really happy with a fourth here. There's a lot of big, strong cars and a lot of great drivers here. We're getting out of here with good points and the car is in good shape for Santo Domingo."
"Our goal was to get a top five and we accomplished that," agreed Russell. "This and California Speedway are probably the two worst tracks for this car that we go to all year, and to finish fourth behind those V-8 Mustangs at this track is great."
Dave Riddle and Kris Wilson had a challenging day in the No. 90 Automatic Racing BMW M3. Riddle started the race from the 11th spot on the grid and was maintaining a strong pace when he was contacted by another car just 45 minutes after the restart. Riddle was able to continue to the pits, but the car had suffered damage that severely affected handling. Wilson took over the driving duties and had to fight to make the car steer straight. Nevertheless, the No. 90 car persevered to cross the finish line 23rd among the Grand Sports entries.
"We started out running well and things were going good," said a disappointed Riddle. "After the second restart, a car hit me and pushed me off the course. I limped the car into the pits and gave it over to Kris."
"Once I figured out how the car wanted to crab down the straightaway, I could sort that out. The brakes were really soft, and after a few laps I sorted that out, too," explained Wilson. "I figured we should stay out and finish where we could finish. Toward the end of the race I was starting to get used to the car and was turning pretty good lap times, even if the car couldn't go straight!"
Automatic Racing will have a month off before they head to the Dominican Republic for round two at Santo Domingo on March 13.