SCC: Millville: Automatic Racing race notes

Automatic Racing: Strategy, Risk Lead to Two Top-Six Finishes at New Jersey MILLVILLE, NJ--Automatic Racing entered the KONI Sports Car Challenge race at New Jersey Motorsports Park looking for redemption after last year's disappointing run...

Automatic Racing: Strategy, Risk Lead to Two Top-Six Finishes at New Jersey

MILLVILLE, NJ--Automatic Racing entered the KONI Sports Car Challenge race at New Jersey Motorsports Park looking for redemption after last year's disappointing run there, and that redemption came in the form of two top-six finishes in Saturday's race.

David Russell and Barry Waddell finished fourth in the No. 99 Automatic Racing/H&S Tool BMW M3. Mark Hillestad was originally slated to drive with Waddell, but a family emergency called him away from the track early in the weekend.

The car sat out the first few practice sessions, and, to make matters more challenging, Russell had never turned a lap at New Jersey Motorsports Park. The odds seemed to be against them, but Russell and Waddell had the advantage of a flawless strategy thanks to crew strategist John Terry and Crew Chief Joe Varde.

With the laps and the gas tank running out, Waddell was told to maximize fuel mileage instead of stopping again for fuel. The low-fuel light came on in turn three of the final lap, and Waddell switched to the reserve fuel. It was just enough to get him to the finish line: if the race had been one lap longer, he would have run out of gas. Instead, Waddell and Russell notched a fourth-place finish in the No. 99 Automatic Racing/H&S Tool (www.handstool.net) M3.

"Joe and John gave us a great strategy, and we really owe this finish to their calls. Our combination of driving, pit stops and strategy proved to be stronger than outright speed," commented Russell.

"Because of our test here, I felt confident that we had a good car," said Waddell. "We didn't need to do much to get ready, other than getting David some laps around the track. This race showed that we can be in the running for the podium every weekend."

Charlie Putman and Charles Espenlaub also had a great day in the No. 91 Automatic Racing BMW M3: their sixth-place finish is their best result with Automatic Racing to date. Putman started the race, but a hit from another car sent him off course. He dropped to the back of the field, but quickly began to regain positions.

As the race progressed, Espenlaub took over and worked his way into the lead, then later settled into third. The fuel situation on the No. 91 was more dire than the No. 99, though, and Espenlaub had to pit for a splash of fuel. The car only dropped three positions, and the team finished sixth.

"We were pretty happy with the finish we had. We would have preferred a win, but we took a gamble on strategy on our last refueling and it didn't work out our way," said Putman. "We're feeling good that we were able to go from last to first, and I think it's only a matter of time before we get that big win."

-credit: ar

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Charles Espenlaub , Joe Varde , Charlie Putman , Mark Hillestad , Barry Waddell , David Russell
Teams Automatic Racing