BRASELTON, Ga. (Sept. 25, 2004) -- Bimmerworld Racing drivers James Clay, of Blacksburg, Va., rookie Seth Thomas, of Cumming, Ga., and Matt Richmond, of Mooresville, N.C., finished third, fourth and fifth, respectively, in the SCCA SPEED World ...
BRASELTON, Ga. (Sept. 25, 2004) -- Bimmerworld Racing drivers James Clay, of Blacksburg, Va., rookie Seth Thomas, of Cumming, Ga., and Matt Richmond, of Mooresville, N.C., finished third, fourth and fifth, respectively, in the SCCA SPEED World Challenge Touring Car Round Nine race at Road Atlanta Friday, as part of the Chevy Presents Petit Le Mans weekend.
Heading into the penultimate round of the SPEED Touring Car season at Road Atlanta, the Bimmerworld Racing team had high expectations of putting all three drivers in the top five and that's exactly what happened.
On the team's home track, Clay led the way from his sixth starting position in his No. 36 Bimmerworld/Ground Control BMW 325i. By lap seven, Clay had moved to third, but spent most of the race battling to keep that position. In fact, Clay and SPEED Touring Car point leader Bill Auberlen battled each other for 11 laps before Auberlen came into the pits with overheating problems. After Auberlen came into the pits, Clay then had to battle Jeff Altenburg and Justin Marks over the next couple of laps for third place. On lap 19, Clay dropped to fourth, as his car appeared to have handling issues. But, on lap 22, Altenburg, who was second at the time, was having gearbox problems and dropped to fourth, which moved Clay up to third.
"It was about half way through the race, the rear end starting coming out from me," Clay said of his car's performance. "We thought that might have been a problem. But, when I saw other drivers dropping out, I figured we needed a podium finish this year and this was the one track we could do it. I just put it on autopilot and got it done.
"To pick up a podium is pretty exciting. That's what we've been working toward all season. We're not on the top yet, but next year we will be."
Clay's third place performance was his career-best SPEED Touring Car finish, beating his previous career-best of ninth, which he established earlier this year in Round Two at Lime Rock Park.
Starting from 10th on the grid, driving the No. 38 Bimmerworld/Ground Control BMW 325i, Thomas clearly showed his familiarity with his home track, as he set a new fast race lap record with a 1:35.712 (95.536 mph) en route to winning the urbanracer.com Hot Lap Award.
"I tell you what, the Bimmerworld No. 38 car was awesome today," Thomas said. "We had an engineer work with us this weekend and he did a sweet job on the car. He got it hooked up for us. We turned the fastest race lap and we had another consecutive finish here [Bimmerworld cars finishing third through fifth] and it's great. You can't beat it.
"I'm pretty pumped," Thomas added about his career-best finish. "It's one of those things that we've been striving for all season. It's been a goal that I set at Sebring. And, we finally got it here in the next to last race of the season and it's an awesome feeling. I look forward to being up there more."
Thomas' fourth place finish was a new career-best. His previous career-best finish was an 11th place performance at Road America in August.
Richmond, who is coming off two consecutive sixth-place performances in as many races, proved once again how consistent he can be in his No. 37 Bimmerworld/Ground Control BMW 325i by turning in a season-best fifth place finish. Richmond, who started 12th, benefited from the combination of having a fast car (Richmond turned the third fastest race lap with a 1:35.981, 95.268 mph) and some driver attrition to finish fifth.
"I'm so proud of this team," Richmond said of his teams' performance. "It all came together this weekend. Everything went smoothly, everyone was comfortable and everyone did their job. I'm just glad we could bring it home all in the top five. We're really looking forward to Laguna [Round Ten at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca] and next season. We really have a great package and it's coming together.
"Who knows what it is?," Richmond added about how consistent he has been in the last three races. "You just have to get into the mindset to be smooth, be consistent and stay out of trouble. Attrition is part of the game. It happens to me. It happens to everybody, so I'll take whatever I can get. That's how it is in racing."
Richmond tied his career-best finish of fifth, which he also set in Puerto Rico in 2003.
Friday's Round Nine SPEED Touring Car race will air at 12 p.m. (EDT) Sunday, Sept. 26 on SPEED Channel.
The Bimmerworld Racing team next heads to the beautiful Monterey Peninsula and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for the SPEED Touring Car season finale Oct. 15-17.
For more information on Bimmerworld Racing, visit www.bimmerworldracing.com.