Auberlen, Marks, Crescentini Take Top Spots In Thrilling Double-Header Infineon/Sears Point Raceway, Sonoma, CA - 07/19/2004 - Native Californians Bill Auberlen, Justin Marks, and Dino Crescentini put in stellar drives in this weekend's two...
Auberlen, Marks, Crescentini Take Top Spots In Thrilling Double-Header
Infineon/Sears Point Raceway, Sonoma, CA - 07/19/2004 - Native Californians Bill Auberlen, Justin Marks, and Dino Crescentini put in stellar drives in this weekend's two Speed Touring Car races. All three drivers finished in the top six in each race and Auberlen scored his third win of the 2004 season.
In race one on Saturday, Auberlen led from start to finish. He started from the pole and led every lap behind the wheel of car #1, a Turner Motorsport/H&R Springs/BMW of Watertown BMW 325i. Auberlen's race was anything but easy. Fellow BMW driver Nic Jonsson spent much of the race on Auberlen's rear bumper. As if that was not enough, he was also carrying 180lbs of R.E.W.A.R.D.S. weight. Auberlen was able to manage the weight with help from H&R Springs and he put together a great drive to boost his lead in the overall Championship.
Justin Marks put in an excellent drive during qualifying and started Saturday's race from the second row. After a bizarre standing start in which one car landed on its roof, the race went to a full-course yellow. On the first lap of the restart, Marks was running in fourth place and chasing the leaders down. With fellow BMW driver Bob Stretch hot on his heels, Marks braked extra late for Turn 7 only to be used in Stretch's own late-breaking maneuver. Stretch hit Marks and Justin was forced to watch the field go by. He re-joined in 21st place. The wrongful spin was all the motivation Justin needed to lay siege on the field. Marks used the remaining 15 laps to his advantage; he passed fifteen cars without further incident and earned a fifth place finish.
Dino Crescentini, another resident of California, has been to Infineon/Sears Point Raceway dozens of times in his 30+ year driving career. And after racing the first three rounds at unfamiliar tracks it was good for him to get back onto home turf, especially since this would be a double-header weekend. Dino started from eleventh and had his best start of the season, moving up to seventh in the first few laps. He kept his race incident-free and had moved all the way up to fifth place but was passed by his teammate, Marks, on the last lap. Dino came home sixth.
Due to his win, Auberlen received an additional weight penalty. He went from 180lbs on Saturday to 250lbs on Sunday. Auberlen reached the maximum R.E.W.A.R.D.S. weight after just four rounds - a feat that took him all of last season to do.
"You really don't know what it feels like to lug 250lbs of weight around," Auberlen says. "But I know exactly what I need to do to stay ahead of my competitors. Momentum is the key at this racetrack and thankfully the Turner BMW was well-prepared for it. The car was beautifully prepared and consistent through the whole weekend. The win on Saturday was due as much to H&R Springs and BMW of Watertown as anything else."
All three Turner Motorsport BMWs started from the top ten on Sunday. Auberlen again led the way with a third place starting position. Marks lined up right behind him in fifth and Dino started from eighth. Bob Stretch led the field away at the start but he again found himself in contact with another car. This time it was the Turner Motorsport BMW of Bill Auberlen. Nic Jonsson assumed the lead with Auberlen, Marks, and Crescentini in tow.
Auberlen's laps were hindered by the extra 250lbs he is required to carry for the rest of the season. He was able to gain on Jonsson in the faster parts of the track where he could maintain momentum. But in the slower sections of the first four corners, Justin Marks was able to move up and challenge his teammate.
Justin Marks swapped positions with Auberlen throughout the race. His third place equals his highest finish in World Challenge competition and this is his first podium of the year.
Justin Marks, #2 Turner Motorsport/H&R Springs/BMW of Watertown BMW 325i: "Running with my teammate was very beneficial to our effort. It opened up opportunities for the both of us. And I didn't have to be worried about his behavior on the track. It also helped that he was very fast. I led him in the first half of the race but there were a few spots where he had enough of an edge to get past me. This was a very strong team effort with Dino also putting in a strong drive."
Dino's fourth place was his best finish of 2004 and put all three Turner Motorsport BMWs in the top five. Dino's tremendous experience helped this weekend, which was something that was not apparent in the first three rounds this year. Sebring, Lime Rock, and Mid Ohio were all new courses for the former Trans Am driver. But Infineon/Sears Point Raceway was the first of several West Coast racetracks that Dino can call home. With his sixth place in Saturday's race and fourth place in Sunday's, Dino is now back in the lead of the Rookie of The Year standings.
Bill Auberlen keeps his lead in the overall Championship. He leads Nic Jonsson by 15 points. Justin Marks has fourth place in the points standings, five points back from third. Dino Crescentini holds ninth place overall. And BMW has a commanding lead in the Manufacturer's Championship - never finishing lower than second place this season.
The sixth round of the Speed Touring Car Championship will be next weekend from Portland, Oregon. The Touring Car series last raced here in 2001 when Bill Auberlen scored the pole position. Practice for this round will begin on Friday with qualifying and the race on Saturday. The Speed Channel will be broadcasting the Portland race on Sunday, August 1st at 12:00pm ET.