Utah: Automatic Racing preview

Automatic Racing Seeking Redemption, Retention at Miller TOOELE, Utah--For Automatic Racing, this weekend's KONI Challenge round at Miller Motorsports Park will be about redemption and retention. Charlie Putman and Charles Espenlaub will be ...

Automatic Racing Seeking Redemption, Retention at Miller

TOOELE, Utah--For Automatic Racing, this weekend's KONI Challenge round at Miller Motorsports Park will be about redemption and retention.

Charlie Putman and Charles Espenlaub will be looking for redemption at the Utah track. They ran superbly at Miller last year, and Espenlaub was holding down second place with just minutes remaining in the race. The No. 91 Automatic BMW M3 was hit by another car, though, ending the duo's hopes of a podium finish.

"We're hopeful: that was our best driving performance of the year in 2008 until we got hit. Both Charles and I have done instructing there, and I consider it a home track. The track is fairly technical and that's a strong suit for our BMW," said Putman, who was the top Automatic Racing qualifier at the 2008 Miller round.

Mark Hillestad and Barry Waddell, driving the No. 99 Automatic Racing/H&S Tool BMW M3, will be on a sharp learning curve this weekend since neither driver has competed at Miller in the past. The 4.486-mile track can be difficult to learn thanks to its length and featureless desert landscape.

Both drivers are testing early this week at Miller to help them learn and retain the tricks for finding the fast way around the track's 24 turns. Waddell was optimistic after taking his first laps around the course. "I've been here a couple times as a spotter, but you don't really understand the character of this place until you drive it," he said. "I really like the track, actually: it's a challenge, but it's fun."

"This is the longest track we have to learn, so we have a lot of work ahead of us, but the M3s have done well here in the past. We have a great baseline setup that Automatic dialed-in at last year's round, so we hope to get up to speed and be competitive in the race," noted Hillestad.

-credit: ar

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Charles Espenlaub , Charlie Putman , Mark Hillestad , Barry Waddell
Teams Automatic Racing