WATKINS GLEN, NY- Automatic Racing came from 26th to first during The Glen 250 at Watkins Glen, round five of the Grand-Am Cup Series season, before a crash took the team out of the race lead. Jep Thornton went out for qualifying in the No....
WATKINS GLEN, NY- Automatic Racing came from 26th to first during The Glen 250 at Watkins Glen, round five of the Grand-Am Cup Series season, before a crash took the team out of the race lead.
Jep Thornton went out for qualifying in the No. 09 BMW M3 the morning of the race, braving a track that was wet from rain. Before he could make a flying lap, however, the session was stopped for a crash and never restarted. The warm-up lap Thornton had taken would have to count as the qualifying lap, placing Automatic Racing 26th among the GS entries.
At the green flag, Thornton got to work passing cars and working his way toward the top of the field. He was in 12th overall after only five laps. On the next lap, a full-course caution tightened up the field and on the restart, Thornton was in eighth.
Thornton continued his push to the front, and when the second caution period began just two laps later, he found himself in third as some of the other leaders ducked into the pits.
On the restart, Thornton quickly worked his way into the lead, moving into the top spot in turn one. Another competitor passed him, but Thornton passed him on the inside as he entered turn eight. At the exit of the turn, Thornton was hit in the left rear side, sending both cars spinning into the foam barriers and guard rail lining the track.
The crash ended the day for Automatic Racing, and Thornton's co-driver David Russell was not able to drive during the race.
This is the first time all season that Automatic Racing has held the lead. Despite the day's unfortunate end, the team feels that Thornton's push from 26th to first is an important accomplishment, and a testament to the hard work that the team has been putting in all season.
Thornton commented that, "this is my second crash, and both of them happened at Watkins Glen. It was really a shame because the car was running better than it ever has been. It's the first time we've really been running up front."
"Unfortunately, the jinx continues here at Watkins Glen," said Russell. "The bad side is that the chassis is basically a write-off. Fortunately, Jep is okay. And he led the race and it gives us some momentum going into the next race once we get the car fixed."
The next round for Automatic Racing will be the Mid-Ohio 250 on August 7 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
Automatic Racing is sponsored by Automatic Commercial Aircraft, LandAir, Engine Music Studios, Moton Shocks and Fikse Wheels.