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Automatic Racing Earns Three Top-Ten Finishes in KONI Challenge at Laguna Seca MONTEREY, Calif. -- Automatic Racing combined speed, strategy and flawless pit stops to put three of their Fresh from Florida BMW M3s in the top ten during...

Automatic Racing Earns Three Top-Ten Finishes in KONI Challenge at Laguna Seca

MONTEREY, Calif. -- Automatic Racing combined speed, strategy and flawless pit stops to put three of their Fresh from Florida BMW M3s in the top ten during Sunday's KONI Challenge Grand Sport race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

Jep Thornton and Jeff Segal earned their third top-five finish of the season in the No. 09 Automatic Racing/Fresh from Florida M3. Thornton and Segal were fifth at Daytona, then third at Iowa. Their consistent finishes so far this season have allowed them to move up to the third spot in the championship standings.

Thornton started the race from sixth, and pitted during an early caution to hand the BMW over to Segal. The gamble dropped Segal back to 30th, but it paid off with the eventual fifth-place finish.

"The car was fantastic. Jeff really did his job today. I'm happy that we can give him this opportunity to show what he can do -- he's a great race car driver. Joe Varde did a great job prepping the car and our strategy worked great," said Thornton.

"The first set of tires I went out on made the car behave differently," noted Segal. "I made progress and worked my way through the field, but it was harder than it had to be. The second set we put on got the car back to what it had been all weekend."

The No. 99 Automatic Racing/Fresh from Florida M3 followed the No. 09 across the finish line in sixth, thanks to the driving talents of David Russell and Tom Long.

"We accomplished our goals today. We got a good finish and we have a clean car for Lime Rock next week," said Long, who grew up near the Connecticut track and has a number of Pro Miata Cup wins there. "We're ready to move on to that round. If there's a place where I can do well, Lime Rock is it."

"I'm really optimistic heading to Lime Rock," agreed Russell. "All four of our cars were in the top five on the time sheets at some point this weekend. We've got four really equal cars and all of our guys have a shot at a win."

Tim George, Jr. and Conrad Grunewald completed Automatic's trio of top-tens with their finish of tenth in the No. 91 BMW M3. This marks the second consecutive top ten for the pair.

George is also looking forward to Lime Rock, which is the Greenwich, Conn., resident's home track and a place where he's earned a number of victories. "I'm glad to be heading to a track where the BMWs perform well. I have a lot of family and friends coming out, and my dad will be there. Now that we've gotten some top tens, our sights are set on a top five," said George.

Jon Miller and Owen Trinkler showed plenty of promise early in the race after starting tenth in the No. 90 Automatic BMW, but broken suspension ended their day early.

Automatic Racing will drive cross-country this week to Lime Rock for round five of the KONI Challenge season. The Grand Sport race begins at 10:00 a.m. on Memorial Day, May 28th.

-credit: ar

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Tom Long , Jep Thornton , Owen Trinkler , Jeff Segal , Joe Varde , Conrad Grunewald , Jon Miller
Teams Automatic Racing