Automatic Racing Takes Two Top-Ten Finishes in Grand-Am Cup Finale at VIR ALTON, Va. -- Automatic Racing concluded the 2005 Grand-Am Cup season on a positive note with a top-ten finish for both of their Grand Sport-class BMW M3s during ...
Automatic Racing Takes Two Top-Ten Finishes in Grand-Am Cup Finale at VIR
ALTON, Va. -- Automatic Racing concluded the 2005 Grand-Am Cup season on a positive note with a top-ten finish for both of their Grand Sport-class BMW M3s during Saturday's VIR 200 at Virginia International Raceway.
Jeff Segal and Nick Longhi drove the No. 09 Automatic Racing BMW to a finish of seventh, while Dave Riddle and Kris Wilson crossed the finish line ninth in the No. 90 BMW.
Rain throughout the weekend was an added challenge, as track conditions changed constantly. The track was beginning to dry when Saturday morning's qualifying session started, and Automatic Racing took a chance of switching from rain to dry tires. The gamble paid off- Segal qualified third in the No. 09 BMW in only his third career Grand-Am Cup event and Riddle earned the sixth spot on the starting grid in the No. 90 BMW, his best qualifying position of the season.
"It was a good way to end the year," said Riddle. "We went out on dry tires and most teams went out on rains. I only got one clean lap in. VIR is my favorite track. It's a true road course and the Esses are so much fun to drive."
Segal and Riddle started the race on a wet but drying track. For the second time of the weekend, the team took a chance by bringing both cars into the pits during an early caution period to put on dry tires. Both cars lost a number of positions, but as the track dried further the tires proved to be the right choice and Automatic Racing was back in the top ten.
"When the race started we were running second and third in the first hour," said Longhi of the No. 09 car. "The pit calls and the pit stops were all great. The car was perfect in those intermediate conditions. We were able to put the right setup on the car all weekend."
Longhi and Wilson finished the race, dealing with rain that began in earnest at the halfway point. Despite the slick racing surface that sent a lot of other cars spinning off the track, Longhi and Wilson persevered to finish seventh and ninth, respectively.
"I think we were one of the first teams to stop for dry tires. That was the right call," commented Wilson. "It put us way back in the field since we stopped on that first yellow. We were still on a dry setup and it rained later in the race. The car wasn't what it could have been in the rain, but it all turned out okay."
"My windshield fogged up completely once when it was pouring rain. That was our only problem," said Longhi. "We did not put a single wheel off the road all weekend. Deciding when to pit and when to change tires was critical. The team and crew did a great job."