Automatic Racing/Fresh from Florida's Thornton and Segal on the Podium Again at Mid-Ohio LEXINGTON, Oh -- Automatic Racing unleashed "Fruit and Vegetable Fury" in Saturday's KONI Challenge Grand Sport race at Mid-Ohio, earning top-five finishes...
Automatic Racing/Fresh from Florida's Thornton and Segal on the Podium Again at Mid-Ohio
LEXINGTON, Oh -- Automatic Racing unleashed "Fruit and Vegetable Fury" in Saturday's KONI Challenge Grand Sport race at Mid-Ohio, earning top-five finishes for the Fresh from Florida BMW M3s, including a third place for Jep Thornton and Jeff Segal.
The podium finish is the second in a row and third of the season for Thornton and Segal, who co-drive the No. 09 Automatic/Fresh from Florida BMW. In addition to the taste of champagne and the thrill of standing on the box, the pair also gained valuable ground in the driver championship hunt. Not only did they maintain their second-place standing, but they shrank the gap to points leader Joe Foster and are now just five points in arrears.
"It's all about consistency now, more than getting on the podium," said Thornton. "If we can bring home a top-five finish every weekend, we have as good of a shot as anybody in the points."
During his stint, Thornton found himself in a tough situation when a car ahead of him spun. He was forced to dive to the edge of the track, where the dirty surface sent him into a spin. "It was a freight train of cars passing me, and I had to work my way back up," Thornton said. "We got a yellow about an hour in, so I pitted and Jeff did the rest. The strategy was great and (crew chief) Joe Varde built us a killer car."
Segal agreed that the podium was even sweeter this weekend than it was two weeks ago at Mosport. "The last time we got lucky, but this one we earned," commented Segal. "The guys never stopped working on the car. We finally got a good car in morning warm-up before the race."
Tom Long and David Russell finished fifth in the No. 99 Automatic/Fresh from Florida BMW, their first top five of the season. Long and Russell have been consistently fast all year, but bad luck has kept them from earning a finish indicative of their potential.
At Mid-Ohio, though, the bright green BMW stayed at the front of the pack all day. Russell earned a front-row start in qualifying, and from there the No. 99 pushed on for a strong finish.
"Our car was fast and we had a great setup right off of the trailer," remarked Russell. "In fact, we had time to try a different setup that we wound up using in the race. Our brake package didn't work quite as we'd planned, but we definitely had one of the strongest cars on track this weekend."
"David did a great job running in the top three before he handed over to me," said Long. "At the end Jeff and I were running nose-to-tail and we got to work through the traffic together. I had a great battle for fifth after our last restart. It was a fun race."
The No. 91 BMW M3 of Tim George, Jr. and Conrad Grunewald had an early end to a strong race after contact put them out of contention. The No. 90 of Jon Miller and Serge Glazunov also retired early because of contact, after running in the top ten.