LEXINGTON, Oh.- Jep Thornton and David Russell drove the No. 09 Automatic Racing BMW M3 to a finish of 11th in the Grand Sports class during the Grand-Am Cup Mid-Ohio 250 on August 8. They were in third during the first half of the race, but a...
LEXINGTON, Oh.- Jep Thornton and David Russell drove the No. 09 Automatic Racing BMW M3 to a finish of 11th in the Grand Sports class during the Grand-Am Cup Mid-Ohio 250 on August 8. They were in third during the first half of the race, but a bump from another car dropped them back late in the race.
Thornton qualified sixth in the E46 M3, which the team acquired and race-prepped in just 30 days following the previous round at Watkins Glen, when the old car was totaled in a crash.
Thornton dropped quickly worked his way up to third overall at the start of the race, where he remained until he took advantage of a full-course caution in the second hour to pit and hand the car over to Russell.
"It was a flawless race for me, and my times were consistent," commented Thornton. "I think it was my best drive ever. I brought it up to third and was right behind the first two guys when we pitted. We had a great pit stop and driver change."
The round of pit stops dropped Automatic back to fifth, but Russell was able to hang onto the position until the final hour of the race, when he was hit in the right rear by the sixth-place competitor.
The impact caused Russell to spin, and although he did not lose much time in re-joining the race, the bodywork of the car had been pushed against the right rear tire. Russell was forced to pit for a new tire and to pull the bodywork out, and he dropped back to 15th overall and 11th in class.
"I was shocked," said Thornton of Russell's spin. "The guy that put us off is a good friend and a former instructor of mine so it's hard to get mad at him, but the fact that we were dicing with him gave me confidence, so I was surprised. The good news is that the car is still good and there's no big damage, so we're okay heading to Homestead."
Despite the setback, Automatic Racing is pleased with the progress that they have made both as a team and with the new car. "We really had a good car," said Russell. "We can make some improvements, but it's better than the old car. I had some great battles going on. The competition is unbelievable now."
Automatic Racing will head to Homestead-Miami Speedway for the next Grand-Am Cup round on September 11. Fans can keep up with Automatic Racing and chat with the drivers on the team's bulletin board at www.AutomaticRacing.com.