Grand-Am KONI Challenge Series Race at Miller Motorsports Park Will Go Far in Determining Series Titlists DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 12, 2007) -- Jeff Segal and Jep Thornton have been consistent all season long in their No. 09 Automatic ...
Grand-Am KONI Challenge Series Race at Miller Motorsports Park Will Go Far in Determining Series Titlists
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 12, 2007) -- Jeff Segal and Jep Thornton have been consistent all season long in their No. 09 Automatic Racing Fresh >From Florida/Imported Car Store BMW M3 in Grand-Am KONI Challenge Series Grand Sport (GS) competition, and a solid finish in Friday's race at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah could wrap up the duo's first Grand-Am championship.
GS and Street Tuner (ST) participants will take the green flag for the penultimate KONI race at 3 p.m. Friday at the 4.486-mile, 24-turn track, a scheduled 45-lap or two-and-a-half hour affair. Both divisions will compete at the same time for only the third time this season, with each championship co-leaders looking for their first victories of 2007. Not since 2002 in the KONI ST I division has a champion (Jean-Francois Dumoulin in that season) not captured a race win.
Segal and Thornton have yet to win a KONI race this season, but their consistency has them atop the standings. Three runner-up finishes -- and inconsistent performances by fellow drivers -- have aided Segal and Thornton's championship aspirations, and the pair stands 27 points (266-239) ahead of Joe Foster. Segal and Thornton will clinch the championship by finishing 22nd or higher at Miller Motorsports Park. Segal placed fourth in last year's race at Miller.
Foster's early season consistency placed the driver in contention, but three consecutive finishes outside the top 10 after winning at Mosport International Raceway caused the drop to third. Again this weekend, Foster will share the No. 55 Hyper Sport Supercuts Ford Mustang GT with Scott Maxwell, currently seventh in championship points. Foster and Maxwell have shared the car in every race this season except at Iowa Speedway.
With two straight top-10 finishes, No. 37 JBS Motorsports Trumansburg ShurSave Ford Mustang GT co-drivers James Gue and Bret Seafuse are fourth after having made a late-season charge to secure a high season finish. Trailing the championship leaders by 47 points, Gue and Seafuse have best finishes of fourth earlier in the season.
Craig Stanton is sixth in points, and will drive the No. 38 BGB Motorsports Performance Drink Porsche 997 with Hugh Plumb, who sits eighth in the championship. The pair joined together at Mosport International Raceway and has recorded six straight top 10 finishes.
Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series GT championship contender Andy Lally is ninth in points and will join Ted Ballou in one of four TRG Porsche 997s this week. Driving their No. 41 TRG Carlsen Porsche/Mitchell Global Porsche 997, Lally and Ballou won at Barber Motorsports Park. Tom Nastasi, who opened the season with three straight victories and an early point advantage, has dropped to 10th. Since his third win in the No. 5 Blackforest Motorsports USG Sheetrock/Ramset Tools Ford Mustang GT, Nastasi owns only one other top 10 and missed the July race at Watkins Glen International.
Segal and Thornton will hope their Automatic Racing teammates can aid them at Miller. Tom Long and David Russell will drive the No. 99 Automatic Racing Fresh From Florida/Engine Studios BMW M3. Also in the stable are Jon Miller and Serve Glazunov in the No. 90 Automatic Racing Weeden Consultants/Fresh From Florida BMW M3 and Tim George Jr. and Conrad Grunewald in the No. 91 Automatic Racing Gleukos Sports Drink/Fresh From Florida BMW M3.
Among other prominent multi-car efforts include Hyper Sport, TRG, JBS Motorsports and BGB Motorsports. Grey's Anatomy star Patrick Dempsey will team with Rick Skelton to drive the No. 54 Hyper Sport Supercuts Ford Mustang GT. The No. 156 Hyper Sport Ford Mustang GT is also entered. Duncan Ende and Grand Maiman (No. 39), John Bibbo and Scott Schroeder (No. 40) and Daniel DiLeo and Bryan Sellers (No. 42) will drive TRG Carlsen Porsche Porsche 997s.
Matt Ackley and Todd Snyder are entered in the No. 137 JBS Motorsports ACKCO Inc. Consulting Group Ford Mustang GT. John Teece is listed as the lead driver of the No. 72 BGB Motorsports Porsche 996.
Several other drivers have near the front this season in GS competition and hope to do the same this week at Miller Motorsports Park. Bill Auberlen and Chris Gleason have piloted the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M3 to two victories, while teammates Will Turner and Don Salama search for their first season win in the No. 97 Turner Motorsport BMW M3 after a season-best second at Barber Motorsports Park.
Spencer Pumpelly won at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in the No. 49 Marcus Motorsports MAX 720 Property Management/Auriemma Consulting Group Porsche 997, and will welcome Jim Lowe and Wolf Henzler to the car at Miller. Bob Heniff and Mike Johnson will be teammates in the No. 87 Marcus Motorsports Heniff Transportation Porsche 997.
Ken Wilden will rejoin Rehagen Racing this weekend after winning at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Wilden will team with Jack Roush in the No. 59 Rehagen Racing Roush Performance Products Ford Mustang GT. Mike Canney is listed as the lead driver of the team's No. 52 Rehagen Racing Piloti Ford Mustang GT. Regular driver Dean Martin is currently nursing a sore shoulder suffered in a crash at Trois-Rivières.
Two other Rehagen Racing cars -- the No. 150 Jim Click Ford Mustang GT (Jim Click and Mike McGovern) and No. 154 Columbus Truck & Equipment/Jim Click Ford (Ray Mason and Jamie Slone) -- are also entered.
Dumoulin won the Supercuts 200 at The Glen for Fiorano/C-Max Racing Denon Porsche 997. This weekend, the Nos. 25 and 26 C-Max Denon Porsche 997s are entered, with Dave Riddle and Kris Wilson listed for both cars. Kinetic Motorsports, Playboy Racing, Fall-Line Motorsports and Ranger Sports Racing are also sporting multi-car efforts.
Utah will also be represented during the weekend, as track owner Larry Miller will have Augie Pabst III in the No. 112 Larry H Miller Racing Utah Jazz/Sahara Cares Foundation Ford Mustang GT. Keith Rossberg is listed as the lead driver of the No. 199 Bush Decor and Construction Ford Mustang GT.
Other one-car efforts will be operated by Southwest Racers Group, Team Centurion, Horsepower Ranch/Wright Motorsports, ACG Motorsports and Car and Driver/NoHotWire Racing.
In contrast to GS, the ST championship series points battle will likely come down to next month's race at Virginia International Raceway. Only four points separate co-leaders Trevor Hopwood and Adam Burrows from third-place drivers Billy Johnson and Karl Thomson. Like Segal and Thornton, Hopwood and Burrows have used reliability to compensate for their lack of a race win to climb into both the team and driver championship lead in the No. 95 Turner Motorsport BMW 330i.
Hopwood and Burrows have been close to winning, leading as late as the final lap at Mosport before Johnson snatched the race victory. Consecutive podiums at Barber Motorsports Park and the Grand Prix de Trois-Rivières have kept the pair in the lead, however Turner Motorsport has previous success on its side. Drivers Turner and Salama captured last season's ST race at Miller in the No. 95.
Johnson and Thomson, also the owner of the No. 76 Kensai Racing Compass360.com/Skunk2/Hawk Brakes Acura TSX, could reclaim the championship lead for the first time since their fourth and most recent victory this season in the Supercuts 200 at The Glen in July. The pair closed to within four points after finishing second at Trois-Rivières, and look to improve on an 11th-place finish at Miller a season ago.
Nick Wittmer leaped into sole possession of fifth with his home province victory at Trois-Rivières with brother Kuno Wittmer and returns to action this week in the No. 31 i-MOTO Racing Acura/Cobalt Friction Acura TSX with owner Glenn Bocchino, who is seventh in points. Kumo, meanwhile, is listed as the lead driver in the No. 32 i-MOTO Racing Acura TSX.
Sandwiched between Nick Wittmer and Bocchino is sixth-place runner Jose Armengol in the No. 69 SpeedSource Mondial Forwarding Mazda RX-8. Armengol has been a frontrunner in the points all this season, but has finishes outside the top 10 in two of the last three races. Returning to action this weekend with regular co-driver and two-time KONI champion David Haskell, Armengol's best finish this season was a second at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
Guy Cosmo slipped to eighth after not participating in the last round at Trois-Rivières, but has not finished outside of the top 10 since a 25th position at Homestead-Miami Speedway in April. He teamed with David Tuaty for the first half of the season in the No. 127 Fountain Motorsports Hawk Brakes/Trackmasters BMW 330i, garnering a win at Iowa, but a midseason driver change has Cosmo driving with VJ Mirzayan this weekend. In turn, Tuaty -- ninth in points -- will drive the No. 74 Kensai Racing Compass360.com/Hawk Brakes Acura RSX-S with Matt Pritiko, 11th in points.
Christian Miller, in the No. 56 BSI Racing MOMO/Joe Gibbs Mazda MX-5, rounds out the top 10 in points. Miller has a best finish of third this season and will co-drive the No. 56 with Todd Buras. Justin Hall and Magnus Karlsson will drive the team's No. 58 MOMO/Joe Gibbs Mazda MX-5.
Several other drivers have also tasted victory this season in KONI ST competition. No. 22 HART Red Line Oil/Honda of America Honda Accord co-drivers Shane Lewis and John Schmitt won at Homestead-Miami Speedway and finished third at Mosport. Lewis and Schmitt also finished second in ST at Watkins Glen.
Eric Curran and Jamie Holtom, in the No. 01 Georgian Bay Motorsports SCADAPack Chevrolet Cobalt, won at Barber Motorsports Park, while Chuck Hemmingson and Kristian Skavnes have won twice -- at Lime Rock Park and Mid-Ohio -- in their No. 111 ICY/Phoenix Racing Subaru of America Subaru Legacy. David Rosenblum is the team's lead driver of the No. 141 ICY/Phoenix Racing Subaru Legacy.
No. 75 Kensai Racing Compass360.com/Skunk2 Acura TSX driver Aaron Povoledo landed the pole at Mid-Ohio, and returns to action with co-driver Beau Buisson. Toby Grahovec and Pierre Kleinubing will drive the No. 86 Classic BMW -- Plano BMW Z4 after finishing a season-best second at Barber. Leo Maia and Al Lamb will drive the team's No. 85 Classic BMW Z4. Other multi-car efforts include Roar Racing (Nos. 62 and No. 63 Mazda RX-8s), SpeedSource (No. 70 Mazda RX-8), RSR Motorsports (Nos. 197 and 198 Mini Cooper Ss) and Fountain Motorsports (No. 126 BMW 330i).
Southwest Racers Group (No. 12 BMW 330i), V-Pack Motorsport (No. 24 BMW 330i), Tom Mitchell Motorsports (No. 51 BMW Z4), Predator Auto Sport (No. 53 Chevrolet Cobalt), GOTO Racing (No. 93 Subaru Legacy), Project Motorsports (No. 06 Chevrolet Cobalt) and GS Motorsports (No. 138 Chevrolet Cobalt) round out the entry list.
Official practice begins at 1 p.m. local time Thursday for both divisions, with ST qualifying at 4:45 p.m. and for GS at 5:10 p.m. The two-and-a-half hour, 45-lap race is scheduled to start at 3 p.m. Friday.
Miller Motorsports Park Fast Facts
What: Grand-Am KONI Challenge Series Grand Sport (GS) and Street Tuner (ST) divisions
Who: KONI Challenge competitors from across the United States, Canada and Latin America
Where: Miller Motorsports Park -- Tooele, Utah
When: Friday, Sept. 14, 2007 at 3 p.m.