SCC: Utah: Automatic Racing race notes

Top Ten Finish Highlights Automatic Racing's Weekend at Miller TOOELE, Utah--Automatic Racing came away from Friday's KONI Sports Car Challenge race at Miller Motorsports Park with two top-15 finishes, including an eighth place for Charlie...

Top Ten Finish Highlights Automatic Racing's Weekend at Miller

TOOELE, Utah--Automatic Racing came away from Friday's KONI Sports Car Challenge race at Miller Motorsports Park with two top-15 finishes, including an eighth place for Charlie Putman and Charles Espenlaub in the No. 91 Automatic Racing BMW M3.

The weekend was a success for both of Automatic's BMW M3 entries. Neither Mark Hillestad nor Barry Waddell had ever turned a wheel on Miller's long 4.486-mile track before last week, but they got up to speed quickly and finished 14th in the No. 99 H&S Tool (www.handstool.net) M3.

Putman and Espenlaub proved that they knew the fast way around Miller's 24 turns last year, but a hit from another car kept them from a second-place finish. That speed was apparent again in Friday's 2.5-hour race. The No. 91 M3 was in a pack of cars spanning third through 10th place, all fighting for position. Late in the race, cooling issues made fast lap times a challenge, but both drivers persevered to finish eighth.

"Of course we hoped and expected to do better at Miller, but that's the way it goes sometimes," reflected Putman. "We came off the trailer at Miller with some radical changes to try to make the cars competitive with the Mustangs, but it's becoming obvious that we're simply not competitive with their horsepower at this time. All in all, everybody had a good time, and we'll look to do better at the next one."

Hillestad and Waddell got an early start to their week, arriving a few days early so they could adapt to the Utah track. The extra effort paid off with a smooth race, consistent lap times, and an eventual finish of 14th.

Waddell said, "All the work we did earlier in the week really showed in the race. We had a slight miscue in the pits, which set us back a little bit. But in the big scheme of things, we finished well and ran a good race. Plus, now we know Miller and that's great since we are building for next year. We got a lot out of the weekend."

Hillestad echoed Waddell's sentiment, adding, "It's hard going to these places for the first time, but we're paying our dues for next year. It really helps to have the team's data, and we'll be well-prepared next season."

Automatic Racing has a two-week break before the KONI Challenge season finale at Virginia International Raceway from October 2-4.

-credit: ar

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