PWC

Road Atlanta II: TeamRTR Touring Car race notes

TeamRTR Nissan returns to podium. Peter Cunningham and the TeamRTR Nissan Sentra SE-R Spec V today finished on the SCCA Speed World Challenge Touring Car Championship podium for the second time in three races. The progress leads ...

TeamRTR Nissan returns to podium.

Peter Cunningham and the TeamRTR Nissan Sentra SE-R Spec V today finished on the SCCA Speed World Challenge Touring Car Championship podium for the second time in three races.

The progress leads Cunningham to believe the corner has been turned on this first-year program.

"Knowledge about how to make the Nissan Sentra faster and more reliable has come to us from all directions since we debuted the car in the Spring," he said. "With our results this weekend, plus our first win two races ago, we believe the Sentra is a serious contender for the 2004 series championship."

Cunningham, the defending Touring Car Driver's Champion, finished third in the 25-lap race, after qualifying on the outside front row grid spot, only .053 miles per hour off the pole, his second best qualifying effort of the season.

In the race, after being spun-out by competitors on both the first and fourth laps, he was in fifth place on lap seven, :03.022 seconds out of the lead. He passed Nic Jonsson for fourth place on lap 17, and two laps later took third away from series points leader Bill Auberlen.

The top four finishers were a solid mix of the strongest manufacturers in the Touring Car series - Acura, Mazda, Nissan and BMW. Also well- represented in the 38-car field were Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, and Audi.

Teammate Eric Curran, who drives the Sentra which Cunningham raced here in June, finished 10th, right where he started the race after also going under the old qualifying record with a 92.699mph lap.

Curran, however, drove off the track in turn one at the start to avoid another car, dropped to 17th place, and had to climb back through the field. It was his second top-10 finish of the season, and could have just as easily been a fifth place result.

Road Atlanta is the most successful track for Cunningham during his long professional career. Nine of his 75 wins happened on the undulating north- central Georgia circuit.

"Many parts of a 'Road Atlanta setup' don't vary from race to race, but weather is always a variable. In June it was hot. This weekend was cool. Cool air means horsepower," he said. "In June the racing surface was drying out after a shower. This weekend it was dry, and those are two variable reasons why 16 of the 38 cars this weekend qualified under the old track record. We have to adapt."

Cunningham's qualifying average speed was 93.734 miles per hour on the 2.54-mile circuit, 2.926 mph faster than his last visit.

The race will be televised on the SPEED Channel, Saturday, Nov. 8 at 4pm EST.

The 10-race season ends next weekend, Oct. 24-26 on the new Isla Grande Airport circuit in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

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Series PWC
Drivers Nic Jönsson