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Portland: Touring Car race notes

Kleinubing Catpures First Speed Touring Car Win of Season in Swealtering Portland PORTLAND, Ore. (July 24, 2004) -- Pierre Kleinubing, of Coconut Creek, Fla., left his bad luck behind today, winning the SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge...

Kleinubing Catpures First Speed Touring Car Win of Season in Swealtering Portland

PORTLAND, Ore. (July 24, 2004) -- Pierre Kleinubing, of Coconut Creek, Fla., left his bad luck behind today, winning the SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge Touring Car Round Six event at Portland International Raceway. Teammate Matt Plumb, of Newport, R.I., and Bob Stretch, of Dallas, completed the top three.

Kleinubing has had a difficult season thus far with mechanical gremlins taking him out of two of the previous five races. The driver of the No. 42 A-Spec/RealTime Racing Acura TSX came into the weekend in unfamiliar territory, seventh in points, having never finished lower than third since his series debut in 1997.

Kleinubing put his TSX second on the grid, alongside teammate and Air Force Reserve Pole Position winner Plumb. Plumb got away clean at the standing start, and Kleinubing dropped to third behind the No. 98 Wheels America BMW 325Ci of Stretch. By turn three, Kleinubing was second. As the lead tandem entered the back straight, Plumb missed a shift, allowing his Brazilian teammate past. After a brief challenge for the lead from Jeff Altenburg's Mazda 6 on lap two, Kleinubing was able to speed away to his 20th-career win by a record-close 3.018-second margin, averaging a record 80.594 mph.

"On the backstretch, he [Plumb] missed a gear and I was able to get by him," Kleinubing said about passing his teammate. "Altenburg had a little miscue under braking and I let him by. And, then I got by him the same way I got by Matt on the backstretch. The car was definitely hooked up. But, my teammate Matt Plumb was definitely on the move and so was [Bob] Stretch. I think they have a little more weight than I do. It was just fate toward the end where my car stayed pretty consistent. My lap times did not drop that much. I tried to maintain the gap and run consistent. It was a good run for us today."

Plumb, who captured his second-career pole, drove the No. 43 RealTime/SANZ/Sun Microsystems Acura TSX to his second podium finish of the season.

"The last three laps I started feeling the heat," Plumb added about the 100 degree conditions. "My mouth got dry. I started thinking about getting out of the car and that is the kiss of death when you do that. Otherwise, I felt pretty good.

"I missed a shift coming down the backstretch and that was pretty much the end of it for me. I really had nothing for Pierre [Kleinubing], whether he got by me there or later. He was very hooked up. He had a great car. He's a great driver, so he deserves to win."

Stretch, who was placed on probation after Infineon Raceway's Round Four race, had a clean run to third place, his first-career podium finish in SCCA SPEED Touring Car competition. Peter Cunningham, of West Bend, Wis., ran his Nissan Sentra SE-R Spec V up from 11th on the grid to finish fourth, with Nic Jonsson bringing his BMW 325Ci home fifth, despite experiencing some overheating.

Perhaps the biggest story of the race started earlier in the day in Vancouver, B.C., where Memo Gidley qualified fifth for Sunday's race in an interim ride with Rocketsports Racing. Following qualifying, Gidley took two helicopters and a Learjet to make the SPEED Touring Car grid in his Air Force Reserve Ford Focus. Starting last, Gidley moved up seven positions on the first lap, eventually finishing 11th and earning both the B&M Shifters Holeshot Award and the Sunoco Hard Charger.

"I was real confident [after testing] Thursday," Gidley, who headed back to Vancouver following the SCCA SPEED Touring Car race. "I got the laps in the car, which was great. Then, I had Ken Dobson come in on Friday and Saturday. I know [Dobson] from way back. He is an awesome driver and I knew he'd do a great job of setting the car up. So, I just tried to concentrate on the Champ Car deal. It's a whole different beast. But, once you get in that mode it's all the same. So, once I got used to that, we had a great run today in [Champ Car] qualifying [fifth on the grid] and the team is really ecstatic. That's the highest they've been on that car all year by far. Then, I just flipped a switch, hopped on a plane and came out here. It was fun. I love racing in the SPEED World Challenge and I am glad I got [back] down here."

After a great weekend at Infineon Raceway, with a win and a second in the doubleheader, point leader Bill Auberlen did not fare as well in Portland. For the first time since 2001, Auberlen finished outside of the top four, bringing his BMW 325i home in eighth.

Despite his disappointing day, Auberlen maintained the point lead after six of 10 rounds, with 172, followed by Jonsson (160), Plumb (144), James Sofronas (120) and Justin Marks (115). BMW also maintained its lead in the Manufacturers' Championship Presented by Racer Magazine, with 48 points to Acura's 30, followed by Nissan (18) and Mazda (six).

Today's race will be broadcast on SPEED Channel Aug. 1 at 12:00 p.m. (EDT). For more information, please visit www.world-challenge.com.

-scca pro racing-

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Series PWC
Drivers Nic Jönsson
Teams RealTime Racing