Watkins Glen Next as KONI Challenge Competitors Reach Midway Point of 2009 Season; Wilden, Miller hope to stretch championship leads in sixth of 11 races DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 3, 2009) - If Bret Seafuse and James Gue want to keep close to...
Watkins Glen Next as KONI Challenge Competitors Reach Midway Point of 2009 Season; Wilden, Miller hope to stretch championship leads in sixth of 11 races
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 3, 2009) - If Bret Seafuse and James Gue want to keep close to Ken Wilden in the Grand-Am KONI Sports Car Challenge Grand Sport (GS) point standings, they will have to do well in Friday's TheGlen.com 200 at Watkins Glen International, the sixth of 11 races on the circuit.
The two-and-a-half hour race will take place at 4 p.m. ET Saturday and will feature the GS and Street Tuner classes, running the weekend in conjunction with the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 race, the Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen.
Seafuse and Gue have finished ninth or better in each of their five starts this season, but remain 16 points (144-128) behind Wilden as the series reaches its halfway point. The track is Seafuse's home facility; he and his JBS Motorsports team are based in Trumansburg, N.Y. The pair will drive the No. 37 Trumansburg ShurSave Ford Mustang GT in search of their initial victory together. Gue has one career victory; Seafuse is looking for his first.
Seafuse grew up racing at Watkins Glen and has wins in other series there, but a KONI Challenge victory would do well in establishing momentum for another title run.
"We're always excited to run 10 minutes from home," Seafuse said. "I love the track; it's probably still my favorite track. I wish we ran there two or three times a year. We hope for a good result."
Wilden has finished eighth or better in every start and brings the points-leading No. 59 RehagenRacingProducts.com Ford Mustang GT to Watkins Glen. In fact, the car hasn't finished outside the top 10 since last year's three-hour enduro at The Glen. Wilden shares the No. 59 with Dean Martin, fourth in the standings. The pair won the Verizon Festival of Speed at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
The most recent GS race-winning team entered for this weekend's race The Glen is Turner Motorsport, which won with Bill Auberlen and Justin Marks in 2006. Auberlen is entered, along with Matt Bell - seeking his fourth pole position of 2009 - in the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M3, and they are shooting for their second win of 2009. The team's other car, the No. 97 Turner Motorsport BMW co-driven by Joey Hand and Chris Gleason, is coming off a victory in last month's race at Lime Rock Park.
Also within striking distance are TRG No. 39 DigiTrust Group/Adams Polishes Porsche 997 and New Jersey Motorsport Park race co-winners Spencer Pumpelly and Duncan Ende, Jack Roush Jr. in Horsepower Ranch's No. 61 Valvoline/Roush Ford Mustang GT and Hugh Plumb, who has moved to Rehagen Racing's No. 52 Columbus Truck & Equipment Ford Mustang GT starting this race. Roush is co-driving with Homestead-Miami Speedway GS winner Billy Johnson - also a former ST victor at WGI - while Plumb will drive with Ray Mason.
Northport, N.Y. native Andy Lally will drive TRG's No. 41 Magnus Racing Porsche 997 with John Potter; that car has two runner-up finishes in 2009.
Kinetic Motorsports drivers Todd Lamb and Glenn Bocchino have quietly moved to sixth in points, as they share the No. 32 Cybernation/Cobalt Friction BMW M3. The No. 32 is one of four cars Kinetic is expected to field Friday.
In addition to Auberlen - a two-time KONI Challenge class winner at Watkins Glen as well as former Rolex Series victor - Barry Waddell also won at The Glen in Grand-Am competition, earning a class victory in the 2001 Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen. Waddell will share Automatic Racing's No. 99 H&S Tool/Imported Car Store BMW M3 - one of two cars the team is fielding this weekend - with Mark Hillestad.
Also entered are cars from CMA Motorsports, Blackforest Motorsports, Cardiosport Racing, Fall-Line Motorsports and Ranger Sport Racing. CMA, with two Ford Mustangs GTs, and team owner Mark Ackley are headquartered in Horseheads, N.Y., less than 10 miles from the track.
Compass360 Racing Aiming For Third Straight WGI Win
Compass360 Racing has dominated at The Glen in ST action in the past two seasons. Two seasons ago, Johnson made a last-lap pass to give himself and Karl Thomson victory, while 2007 class co-champions Adam Burrows and Trevor Hopwood garnered their first series victories in 2008. Both wins came in Acura TSXs.
The transition to the Honda Civic Si has not endured much of a challenge thus far, as Compass360 has earned three victories in five races this season and owns first, third and eighth in the team standings.
Christian Miller leads the driver standings by eight points (143-135) over rookies Pat Iannucci and Lawson Aschenbach. Miller drives Compass360's No. 74 034 Motorsport/Skunk2 Honda Civic Si with Randy Pobst, a 2003 overall winner at WGI. The pair have combined for two wins in 2009. Travis Walker, entered in the No. 75 Skunk2/C360R.com, sits eighth in points after winning at Lime Rock, but has finished on the podium in three races. He is teaming with New York native John Kuitwaard.
Aschenbach and Iannucci won at Daytona and are attempting to put Georgian Bay Motorsports in victory lane at WGI for the first time since 2005. Their No. 00 T.T.L. Chevrolet Cobalt SS has finished in the top 10 in all five races this season, and Aschenbach has finished eighth or better in all eight of his KONI ST career starts.
Third in points is Ashley McCalmont, driving Georgian Bay's No. 01 T.T.L. Chevrolet Cobalt SS. McCalmont has three top fives this season, and is teamed with reigning class champion Jamie Holtom, who rejoined the team at Lime Rock.
APR Motorsport and Freedom Autosport are two other multi-car teams that have fared well this season but have not won - yet. Ian Baas and Josh Hurley - currently sixth in points - combined to lead the most laps in APR Motorsport's No. 171 APR Tuning/Gunther VW Volkswagen GTI at Lime Rock, but the two finished second, their second podium of 2009. Aaron Povoledo, who co-drove with Baas last year at Watkins Glen, gave the team its first pole position last July. Mike Sweeney and Dion von Moltke will drive the team's No. 181 APR Tuning/BBS Volkswagen GTI.
Tom Long, born in Poughkeepsie, and Derek Whitis also have two podium finishes - both runner-up results - in Freedom Autosport's No. 145 Mazda/Freedom Autosport Mazda MX-5, and had success last season. Whitis started from the front row in one car, while Long and Rhett O'Doski drove to third in another. O'Doski will drive Freedom's No. 146 Mazda/Freedom Autosport Mazda MX-5 this weekend with Andrew Carbonell, while Mark White and Christian Maloof will share Freedom's No. 147 Mazda/Freedom Autosport Mazda MX-5.
Kristian Skavnes and Andrew Aquilante have also fared strong in the first five races, with a best finish of second at Daytona and four top 10s. The two are tied for fourth in the driver standings, as they compete in Subaru Road Racing Team's No. 111 Subaru of America Subaru Legacy.
Several New York drivers and teams will be competing in ST as well. Sam Schultz of Horseheads will drive V-Pack Motorsport's No. 23 Trackmasters/AMI BMW Z4, John Bosch of Fairport and Michael Fonte of Webster will drive two of Ontario, N.Y.-based Next Generation Motorsports' four BMW 330is, and Joe Sahlen will bring the No. 43 TheRaceSite.com Mazda RX-8 from his Elma, N.Y.-based Team Sahlen stable. Bill Fenton Motorsports, also a previous race-winning team at Watkins Glen, will bring its two Honda Civic Sis, which are housed in Geneva, N.Y.
Also fielding cars will be Flatout Motorsports, RRT Racing, 3D Racing, Turner Motorsport, GS Motorsports, Pirate Motorsports and RSR Motorsports, which includes the No. 198 Cruise America/Fischer Skis Mini Cooper S for Burrows and Hopwood.
Practice begins at noon ET Thursday, with qualifying at 12:30 p.m. ET Friday and the two-and-a-half hour TheGlen.com 200 at 4 p.m. ET Friday. Live timing and scoring, news, notes and results will be available on www.grand-am.com, with regular weekend updates also posted on www.twitter.com/KONI_Challenge.