Segal finishes 2007 as KONI Champion Grand-Am KONI Challenge GS Class Champion looks back on a breakthrough season (Miami, FL)17 October 07--It's been over a week since Jeff Segal took the checkered flag in the Grand-Am KONI Challenge ...
Segal finishes 2007 as KONI Champion
Grand-Am KONI Challenge GS Class Champion looks back on a breakthrough season
(Miami, FL)17 October 07--It's been over a week since Jeff Segal took the checkered flag in the Grand-Am KONI Challenge 2007 season-ending six hour race at VIR, but after a pressure cooker of a run-up to the season finale, and a near-disaster race outcome, Segal is just now beginning to relish his remarkable run to the first championship of his professional career.
Co-driving with Jep Thorton in the Fresh From Florida Automatic Racing BMW M3 with Joe Varde serving as crew chief, Segal emerged as the KONI Challenge GS Class Champion from a huge field packed with Rolex Sports Car Series regulars and veteran racers alike to take a ten-point victory in the final championship standings with Thorton.
Despite pace and consistency that produced a metronomic run of strong finishes through the season including nine top-six results and four podium finishes, Segal's championship hopes were very nearly dashed in the final race after a transmission piece broke and left his co-driver stranded on course. Fortunately, a second Automatic Racing team entry helped push the car back to the pits as the team performed quick work to get the car back on the championship trail.
"I thought it was all over right then, I couldn't believe it," said Segal. "Fortunately the team got us back on track quickly and we were able to get the points we needed to take the championship, but obviously that was a very quiet moment in our pits!"
Earning a championship at such a young age has marked Segal as a driver of the future.
"It is tremendously satisfying to win this championship," said Segal. "KONI Challenge is a really competitive series with tons of great teams and drivers, so it is in honor to win it. I've been working hard for this for a long time and even though it took a few days for me, it has started to sink in a little bit!"
Segal, who this season balanced his competitive drive with his academic one as a student at the University of Miami, hasn't let off the throttle one bit, as his success has fueled other teams' interest in him as he works towards the future. Segal wasn't just quick in KONI competition, as he also impressed in a limited schedule of Rolex Sports Car Series GT Class races.
While he is looking forward to accepting his championship laurels at a special Grand Am ceremony in Las Vegas at the end of the month, Segal knows he has some work ahead of him to keep his career trajectory moving up, and he knows taking a championship isn't going to hurt.
"I've been surprised at how many calls I've got from team owners looking to see what my plans are for next year," said Segal. "It's great to get that recognition and hopefully I can translate this championship into even more opportunity in the future."
With his championship goal realized, Segal is now fully focused on finalizing his plans for the 2008 season. He expects to have everything in place for an announcement in advance of the November Test at Daytona as he looks to defend his KONI championship while also growing his experience in the Rolex Sports Car Series.