SCC: VIR: Automatic Racing preview

Automatic Racing Ready to Heat Things up at Virginia International Raceway ALTON, Vir. -- Automatic Racing hopes that the third time is the charm as the Grand-Am Cup team travels to Virginia International Raceway for round eight of the...

Automatic Racing Ready to Heat Things up at Virginia International Raceway

ALTON, Vir. -- Automatic Racing hopes that the third time is the charm as the Grand-Am Cup team travels to Virginia International Raceway for round eight of the series, the VIR 250 on Saturday, October 2.

Jep Thornton and Eric Van Cleef will be behind the wheel of the No. 09 Automatic Racing BMW M3. Van Cleef is again substituting for David Russell.

During round seven two weeks ago at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Thornton and Van Cleef co-drove to a finish of third overall and in the Grand Sports class, earning the team's first podium of the year. Automatic Racing hopes to continue their success with another podium at Virginia International Raceway (VIR).

As the team has learned, however, getting onto the podium does not come easily. In their first outing at VIR two years ago, Thornton and Russell had to combat heavy rain, cars sliding all over the track and a broken windshield defroster. They battled the weather as much as they did the other teams in the race, but soldiered on to finish ninth.

Automatic Racing returned to VIR in 2004 after having earned three podium finishes throughout the course of the season. Thornton started the race and got as high as third in the opening laps, giving the team hopes of another podium. Those hopes were dashed, however, just one hour into the race when a clutch failure forced Automatic Racing to retire.

Now, armed with a new E46 model of the BMW M3, Automatic Racing is returning to VIR for the third time with their sights set on the podium.

"After our success at Homestead, we are going into VIR with a lot of confidence," said Thornton. "The car is running fantastic. The Automatic/LandAir/Engine Studios BMW M3 is made for tracks like VIR and Barber. We are looking forward to a great weekend."

"I think the BMW will be great there," agreed Van Cleef. "VIR is a handling track so we can take advantage of that because the car is set up so well. VIR is a horsepower track, but it's also a technical track, and that combination works well for us."

After a full day of practice on Friday, October 1, Automatic Racing will have qualifying and the race on Saturday. Qualifying for the Grand Sports class is from 11:35-11:50 AM, and the 250-mile race will start at 1:50 PM.

Fans can get news and download quotes from the drivers at www.AutomaticRacing.com.

Automatic Racing is sponsored by Automatic Commercial Aircraft, LandAir, Engine Music Studios, Moton Shocks and Fikse Wheels.

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Jep Thornton
Teams Automatic Racing