SCC: Phoenix: Automatic Racing preview

Automatic Racing leads points battle as they head to Phoenix. DELAND, Fla.- With their third-place finish at Homestead-Miami Speedway, the No. 09 Automatic Racing BMW M3 took the points lead in the Grand Sports II class of the Grand-Am Cup...

Automatic Racing leads points battle as they head to Phoenix.

DELAND, Fla.- With their third-place finish at Homestead-Miami Speedway, the No. 09 Automatic Racing BMW M3 took the points lead in the Grand Sports II class of the Grand-Am Cup Series. The team travels to Phoenix International Raceway this weekend for the UnitedAuto 200, where they hope to maintain their points lead.

Drivers Jep Thornton and David Russell rose to the GSII class points lead after finishing second and third in the first two races of the season. Although Automatic Racing will be visiting Phoenix for the first time, they are confident that their chances of earning another podium finish are strong.

"We know where our car is good. It's a momentum car," said Russell. "For us, there won't be a lot of traffic since we aren't racing with the Sport Touring classes. There shouldn't be a lot of cautions, either, so it should be a long run, and that's good for us."

"Phoenix is a town where I've done lots of business and have a lot of friends, so I look forward to racing there," commented Thornton. "It should be a good track for our car. It's similar to Homestead with a lot of technical turns."

Thornton feels that being in the points lead does not add pressure to do well at Phoenix, but it does change the team's outlook. "It's not so much pressure as a desire to do our homework and do everything correctly- car setup, tire strategy, pit stops. You pay more attention to the details because you have something to maintain. I think the key to being successful in this series is consistency. You've got to run every race and be consistent, and at the end of the day it comes down to strategy."

The No. 90 Automatic Racing BMW M3 made its debut at Homestead, and will be racing for only the second time this weekend. Co-drivers Eric Van Cleef and Terry Earwood are optimistic about their chances of finishing higher than the eighth they earned at Homestead.

"We had some fuel issues for the first race, so we were conservative," explained Van Cleef. "If we can keep out of the pits longer we will do well. We were really competitive on the track at Homestead, we just lost time in the pits."

"The first race at Homestead wasn't indicative of the car's potential," added Earwood. "We know we can finish better than that. We are looking forward to marching on to Phoenix where we hope to join our teammates on the podium. I like Phoenix. I won my 25th endurance race there, so it's a special place for me."

The UnitedAuto 200 for Grand Sports I and II at Phoenix International Raceway will be held at 1:00 pm on Saturday, May 3. Fans can visit the team 's website at www.AutomaticRacing.com for updates on qualifying and the race.

-ar-

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Jep Thornton , Terry Earwood , David Russell
Teams Automatic Racing