Altenburg Puts Tri-Point Motorsports MAZDA6 on the Podium at Denver World Challenge Touring Car Event With only two events left on the eleven race 2005 SCCA SPEED World Challenge schedule, Jeff Altenburg made the most of his weekend as ...
Altenburg Puts Tri-Point Motorsports MAZDA6 on the Podium at Denver World Challenge Touring Car Event
With only two events left on the eleven race 2005 SCCA SPEED World Challenge schedule, Jeff Altenburg made the most of his weekend as he skillfully brought the #72 Tri-Point Motorsports MAZDA6 home 2nd during Saturday's Centrix Financial Grand Prix of Denver, and added crucial points to Mazda's fight for the manufacturers title. Tri-Point drivers Dino Crescentini and Randy Pobst finished 5th and 7th, ensuring again that all of Tri-Point's MAZDA6s were in the top ten.
The brilliant blue Mazdaspeed MAZDA6s of Tri-Point Motorsports were on a strong pace from the start of the weekend. Randy Pobst, of Gainesville, Georgia just barely missed the top qualifying spot, which he has earned three times this year, and had to settle for the outside of the front row, with a lap of 1:20.790 around the 1.65 mile temporary street circuit. Dino Crescentini of Malibu, California, who has had a welcome and impressive resurgence in his competitiveness as the season moves on, qualified the #74 entry third with a lap of 1:20.952. Jeff Altenburg of Ellicott City, Maryland, after being balked by traffic on his fastest lap, qualified his #72 MAZDA6 7th; a position that would belie the impressive pace he would later show during the race.
Race Action -- The Depth of a Team
At the start, most of the 22-car field completed lap one cleanly with only minor incidents near the back of the field. Pobst, who maintained his second place position through lap one, made a strong challenge for the lead on lap 7 after a long full course caution period. A very rare miscue saw the #73 entry fall to 11th place on that lap, and Pobst spent the rest of the event methodically moving his way back through the field to finish 7th. Pobst's fight back came with a well earned reward however, as during his gusty drive he passed the #42 Acura TSX of championship leading driver Peter Cunnigham, and closed the gap in the drivers championship race to only five points.
Crescentini, who was quick in his #74 MAZDA6 throughout the weekend dropped two positions in the opening laps, but maintained a top five position through the entire event, and continues to improve his position in the drivers championship points race as well.
Perhaps the drive of the weekend belonged to Altenburg however, who won the Sunoco Hard Charger Award for an impressive display of racecraft that saw him advance five positions in a highly competitive portion of the field. As the race progressed, the #45 Acura TSX of Eric Curran appeared likely to win the event, and both Altenburg and team principal Craig Nagler realized the impact of an Acura win on the manufacturers points chase. Altenburg, who had been somewhat conservative in the opening laps in an attempt to save his tires for the later stages of the event, began to quicken his pace and rapidly caught the lead group of cars. In a decisive move on the #48 pole position qualifying entry of Chip Herr on lap 24 of the 30-lap event, Altenburg moved into 2nd place. Despite an aggressive attempt by the #48 car to regain 2nd place, contact was made on the left rear quarter panel of Altenburg's pristine MAZDA6. Jeff was able to hold off Herr's car however, and despite a dented fender that briefly rubbed against the left rear tire, Altenburg maintained his position and in so doing helped to bring a much needed point total to Mazda's chase for the manufacturers title.
Jeff Altenburg #72
I got a bit blocked on my two quick qualifying laps, but even though we started seventh I knew the car was going to be good for the race. I am a bit surprised with the move that Herr put on me near the end. He basically just turned down on my left rear quarter panel, but luckily my MAZDA6 came away from it without too much damage, and was strong to the end. I have to thank the guys at StopTech who gave us the braking power to make up some ground, and our Comptech engine was strong and reliable throughout the race.
Randy Pobst #73
I had a good set up for the race, and the car handled well. I'm glad that I was able to make up some ground after my mistake, and it felt good to be able to get by some really solid drivers to salvage some points out of the weekend. I think I was able to narrow the gap in the drivers championship points race, and with only two races remaining, any points I can get are important. I can't say enough about this Tri-Point team, especially in terms of the depth that we have. Even though I had my issue this race, Jeff (Altenburg) was right there to get some points for Mazda, and I think that says a lot for what Craig Nagler has done for this organization.
Dino Crescentini #74
I thought I had a good weekend overall. We ran a solid race pace, and there was a lot of action up at the front. This series is very competitive, and you have to be on your game with car set up and driving. Even though the year started a bit rough for me, the last few events have been good, and I have to thank the whole Tri-Point crew for giving me a competitive car.