Automatic Racing Sets Sights on Iowa after Disappointing Race at Homestead HOMESTEAD, Fla. -- Rain and a string of badly-timed caution periods combined to make the results of the KONI Challenge Series Grand Sport race at Homestead-Miami Speedway...
Automatic Racing Sets Sights on Iowa after Disappointing Race at Homestead
HOMESTEAD, Fla. -- Rain and a string of badly-timed caution periods combined to make the results of the KONI Challenge Series Grand Sport race at Homestead-Miami Speedway less than favorable for Automatic Racing. However, the team's four BMW M3s all performed flawlessly in Sunday's 400km race and the team is optimistic heading into next weekend's round at Iowa Speedway.
The race got off to a strong start for the No. 99 Automatic Racing/Fresh from Florida BMW M3. Tom Long, in his first visit to Homestead, secured a starting position of fourth. Throughout his stint, he stayed in the lead pack of five cars as they built up a gap over the field.
Meanwhile, Jep Thornton was on the charge in the No. 09 Automatic Racing/Fresh from Florida M3. Thornton started the race 14th but he was running eighth within ten minutes of the green flag.
Long and Thornton both pitted on the first caution in a strategy gamble. David Russell took over in the No. 99 BMW and Miami resident Jeff Segal got behind the wheel of the No. 09 BMW. "The car was good and I was able to make up a lot of positions early on," said Thornton. "I only came in early because of our pit strategy. Jeff's a fast driver and I knew he could keep his pace for the rest of the race."
Jon Miller was also busy working his way through the field in the No. 90 BMW M3, which is sponsored by Weeden Consultants. Miller drove for an hour and a half before handing over to his co-driver Owen Trinkler.
Tim George, Jr. also drove a long first stint, and he kept a consistent pace while he worked his way past traffic in the No. 91 Automatic Racing BMW. George then pitted, and his teammate Pete Argetsinger took over for the final hour of the race.
Rain began to fall 35 minutes before the checkered flag. Russell, who had to make a final stop for fuel, brought the No. 99 in and the team opted to put on rain tires.
Argetsinger and Segal also chose to pit for rains as the downpour increased, but Trinkler kept the No. 90 BMW on track and on DOTs. "Staying on DOTs was the right call for us. We weren't losing time until the bottom dropped out on us with ten minutes to go and it got really slick," said Trinkler, who donates to Big Brothers Big Sisters for every lap that the No. 90 car completes. "We'll go on to Iowa and see if we can collect more points."
At the checkered flag, the No. 09 BMW M3 of Thornton and Segal earned the best finish for Automatic Racing with 14th. "It sucks," said a disappointed Segal, who is also sponsored by Performance Drink. "We had a fast car this weekend, and unfortunately we weren't able to get the finish that we had the potential for. We'll be looking for a fresh start at Iowa next week."
Miller and Trinkler finished 21st in the No. 90 BMW. They had a rough start at Daytona when contact resulted in a broken axle, and they were optimistic about the day's results. "I approached this Homestead race weekend with one solid goal, to run a clean race and take the checkered flag. With Iowa next weekend, our whole team needed to finish the race with all four cars in good condition, which we did," said Miller, who lost radio contact during his long stint. "It was a tough weekend for us, but we learned a lot as a team and we take what we learned to Iowa, where we hope to put an end to the Mustang domination of the first two races."
George and Argetsinger hung on for a finish of 24th in the No. 91 Automatic Racing BMW. "I felt confident and the tires were sticking so I could be aggressive. The car was really good on the banking," said George, who will be co-driving with Conrad Grunewald at Iowa. "It will be a challenge to adapt to a new teammate, but Conrad is a friend and we've always worked well together in Skip Barber."
The No. 99 Automatic Racing/Fresh from Florida BMW of Long and Russell was 20th before a late-race spin in the rain. They eventually finished 26th. "We were optimistic about how we looked when the rain started to fall," said Long. "It looked like the track conditions were coming to us, but it didn't get wet as quickly as we'd hoped. I think Iowa will be a good track for the M3, and David and I both adapt to new tracks quickly. We know from today that we have a top five car, and now we just need the finish to prove it."
Automatic Racing has just one day at their shop in Orlando, Florida before heading to Iowa Speedway for round three this weekend.