SCC: Watkins Glen: Automatic Racing race report

Fresh from Florida/Automatic Racing's Thornton and Segal Take Points Lead at The Glen WATKINS GLEN, NY -- Automatic Racing ended a very successful three-hour KONI Challenge race at Watkins Glen with a podium finish, all four BMW M3s in the...

Fresh from Florida/Automatic Racing's Thornton and Segal Take Points Lead at The Glen

WATKINS GLEN, NY -- Automatic Racing ended a very successful three-hour KONI Challenge race at Watkins Glen with a podium finish, all four BMW M3s in the top 12, and the Grand Sport driver points lead.

The weekend began with a new track record and the pole for Tom Long, who qualified first with a 2:05.134 in the No. 99 Fresh from Florida/Automatic BMW M3. He was nearly half a second under the previous record.

"It was great to set a new track record," said Long, who co-drove with David Russell. "It was nice to not be at a track for a few years, then to come back and get the pole. It was a weekend where we really got to enjoy driving the car."

Jeff Segal and Jep Thornton had plenty of fun, too, driving to a second-place finish in the No. 09 Fresh from Florida/Automatic BMW. It is the duo's fourth podium of the season, and their third consecutive race in the top three. Finishing second at Watkins Glen -- their highest finish so far -- has put them into the driver points lead with a 14-point margin.

"It was a tough race. There were a lot of door-to-door battles with big groups of cars. The last few laps went our way," said Segal.

"We really got lucky. It was a great weekend for us," enthused Thornton, who stressed that the team is still not allowed to use "the 'c' word" when referring to the points standings. "We're thrilled with the car. Joe Varde and John Terry -- I just can't say enough about them."

Segal and Thornton's trophy went to 14-year-old Jeremy Griffin, who joined Automatic Racing as an honorary crew member for the weekend. Griffin attends nearby Valley Central Middle School in Montgomery, New York, and his Career Exploration teacher, Lisa Coney, helped make Jeremy's dream of being a pit crew member for a race team come true. All of the Automatic Racing drivers and crew would like to thank Jeremy for the extra luck that he brought the team this weekend!

Tim George, Jr. and Conrad Grunewald had another strong weekend in the No. 91 Automatic BMW, finishing fourth overall for their best result to date. They were originally awarded third, but a reversed penalty for another car bumped them back to fourth.

"This just encourages me to try harder," said George, who earned his first career win at Watkins Glen. "It's sort of a tease, and it's going to make us a lot more determined to be on the podium when we get to Barber next week. Joe Varde and Mike McLaughlin had the car working really well and this gives us a lot of confidence."

Long and Russell eventually finished sixth in the No. 99 BMW, and the Automatic Racing lineup was completed by Jon Miller and Serge Glazunov, who finished 12th in the No. 90 BMW.

"We changed our strategy, with Serge qualifying for us," said Miller. "He started third and I was able to do well in my stint, so it worked out well. I'm really happy with the results that that whole team got, and hopefully our luck has turned around."

-credit: ar

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Mike McLaughlin , Tom Long , Jep Thornton , Jeff Segal , Joe Varde , Conrad Grunewald , Jon Miller , David Russell
Teams Automatic Racing