Automatic Racing's Thornton and Segal Extend Points Lead; Putman and Espenlaub Score Another Top 10 at Iowa NEWTON, Iowa -- Automatic Racing got a great start to their back-to-back KONI Challenge rounds during Sunday evening's race at Iowa ...
Automatic Racing's Thornton and Segal Extend Points Lead; Putman and Espenlaub Score Another Top 10 at Iowa
NEWTON, Iowa -- Automatic Racing got a great start to their back-to-back KONI Challenge rounds during Sunday evening's race at Iowa Speedway: Jep Thornton and Jeff Segal extended their championship points lead, and Charlie Putman and Charles Espenlaub scored another top-10 finish amid a very hectic schedule.
Thornton qualified in the No. 09 Imported Car Store/Rogue Engineering/LandAir/Engine Music Studios BMW M3, setting the fifth-quickest time and coming in under the previous Grand Sport class track record.
The great qualifying session was just the beginning. Thornton stayed strong during his stint before handing the No. 09 BMW to Segal, who was running sixth until the final minutes of the race, when he moved up to fifth. With six rounds complete this season, they have finished in the top five in every race. The finish also gave Thornton and Segal another two points in the championship chase, and they are now 22 points ahead.
"I was very pleased with our effort at Iowa," said Thornton. "I am having so much fun this season running in the points chase with Joe, Scott, Brett and James. They are all great drivers and are really making us be focused all the time. The crew did a great job on the pit stop and actually was waiting for me and Jeff to finish our driver change."
Charlie Putman and Charles Espenlaub had another successful weekend, finishing eighth in the No. 91 Automatic Racing BMW M3. They were also racing at Road America during the weekend, flying back and forth between tracks once again.
"Much like Barber, our goal was to get a good points finish and we achieved that," commented Putman. "That wouldn't have been possible without the preparation that the team did so we could come in at the last minute from Road America. Joe Varde and David Russell did a great job on strategy, too. Iowa had a small field, but the toughest competitors were there."
Rob Finlay and Steve Cameron were also poised for a great finish in the No. 99 Mobile-Shop.com M3. Cameron got a great start and was holding down sixth place until a slower ST-class car checked up in front of him. Cameron avoided the slow car, but was hit from behind by another surprised driver. After recovering from the ensuing spin, Cameron had to pit to get a dislodged bumper removed. Finlay took over in the No. 99, driving for nearly two hours and making up plenty of positions while running lap times equal with those of the leaders. The No. 99 crossed the finish line in 21st.
"Obviously the spin put us behind, and from there the yellows never fell our way," said Finlay. "But we'll be in good form for Trois-Rivieres. We've both raced there quite a bit, so it will be a good track for us and the cars."
Automatic Racing is now on its way north to Canada for this weekend's Le Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres. The Grand Sport class of KONI Challenge will race on Sunday, August 17 at 9:10 a.m.