Pobst Parlays Pole to Win in Tri-Point Mazda6 at Wild St. Pete Touring Car Event With a dominant weekend performance, sports car racer Randy Pobst smoothly drove his blue and white ...
Pobst Parlays Pole to Win in Tri-Point Mazda6 at Wild St. Pete Touring Car Event
With a dominant weekend performance, sports car racer Randy Pobst smoothly drove his blue and white #73 Tri-Point Motorsports MAZDA6 to victory lane during the second round of the 2006 SCCA Speed World-Challenge Touring Car schedule at the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Pobst of Gainesville, Florida topped the timing sheets during every practice and secured pole position before leading every lap of the 29-lap/48 minute race. Tri-Point driver Jeff Altenburg was briefly airborne in his #72 MAZDA6 during a race start debacle that gave him no escape room and caused a mechanical failure that saw him drop from the race on the fourth lap.
Pobst, clearly happy with the balance and set up of his MAZDA6, secured the pole position by half a second over the Realtime Acura TSX of Pierre Kleinubing with a lap of 1:23.191 around the 14-turn 1.8 mile temporary road course. Altenburg hustled his #72 to a strong fifth place qualifying effort at a 1:23.900. The gap between second and seventh qualifying spots was a mere 0.3 seconds, showing not only parity among the entries but also promising some upcoming intense race action. Crescentini, who did not start the race due to a personal emergency, struggled with handling problems, but made the show with a lap of 1:25.181 in his #74 MAZDA6.
MAZDA6 in Victory Lane
Pobst got a clean start from the grid to lead into turn one, and despite concerns that the all-wheel-drive Audi A4 of Chip Herr might be able to get a jump on the start Pobst was never challenged. Altenburg, who was well on his way to a strong start, soon found himself wedged against the inside concrete retaining wall. Despite moving over as far as he could to afford some racing room to the #43 Acura RSX of Eric Curran and the #97 MAZDA6 of Charles Espenlaub, Altenburg was unceremoniously slammed against the wall with such force that the #72 climbed the barrier and was some six feet in the air before it came crashing down.
It is testament to the excellent build quality of the Tri-Point Motorsports cars and to the MAZDA6 in general that it was able to continue at all, let alone complete four race laps before finally suffering a race ending mechanical failure. Jeff's disappointment in the green flag melee was evident following the event as his 27th place finish opens a difficult to overcome gap to the leaders in his quest to secure a driver championship.
Following the start Pobst continued to slowly stretch his lead through the middle of the race, but began to come under some pressure from defending series champion Peter Cunningham in his #1 Realtime Racing Acura TSX. Pobst was faultless on this day however, and despite the impressive efforts of Cunningham, Randy maintained his lead and took the checkered flag 0.938 seconds ahead of the #1 entry. Wining at St. Petersburg is becoming a well- earned tradition for Pobst, as he drove to victory lane here last year with a similar level of driving and race prowess.
Pobst's win places him in the lead of the driver championship standings with 67 points over Pierre Kleinubing in second with 58. Mazda leads Acura in the manufacturer's championship points tally by 5 with a total of 17.
Tri-Point Driver Jeff Altenburg #72
The team just did a great job. We chased a little bit of set up but ended up getting the car very very good. We definitely had a top-notch car good enough to possibly win the race and certainly good enough for a one two for the Tri Point team. The good news is we have a great package for the rest of the season. What happened is disappointing for Mazda, Tri-Point and of course myself. I was really just an innocent bystander in this situation. Guys were racing too hard too early, and we know you can't win the race in the first turn and you can't win if can't even make it through the first turn. Things are looking good for the manufacturer's championship though, and hopefully we can contribute to that later on. Congrats to Randy, he did a great job.
Tri-Point Driver Randy Pobst #73
Another important step toward winning the manufacturer's title for Mazda, although its early in the season. I was very aggressive in the set up of my MAZDA6, and although it gave me a slight edge in practice and qualifying, it might have been a little too aggressive for the race. The StopTech brakes were excellent and the Comptech engines are great. We are very close to Acura right now, and I think its really coming down to handling and qualifying - especially at a track like this where its really tough to pass, qualifying is very important.