Kenney Savors Portland Podium Portland, Oregon (July 27, 2008) -- Virginia's Liam Kenney survived a wild ride in the lead pack at Portland International Raceway on Sunday to secure his maiden podium in Round 3 of the 2008 Volkswagen Jetta TDI...
Kenney Savors Portland Podium
Portland, Oregon (July 27, 2008) -- Virginia's Liam Kenney survived a wild ride in the lead pack at Portland International Raceway on Sunday to secure his maiden podium in Round 3 of the 2008 Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup Series. The 16-year-old, the youngest competitor in the 30-strong field, captured second place at the end of a frantic 20-lap sprint around the 1.977-mile Oregon track for his first top-three of the season.
Kenney, who led laps in the inaugural VW Jetta TDI Cup Series race at his home track, Virginia International Raceway back in April, immediately established himself as a front-runner in Portland when practice got underway on Saturday morning. Piloting the #35 ViON/Trax International entry, Liam set the second fastest time of the session thanks to a 1m28.820s hot lap.
Saturday afternoon's qualifying session again saw the Sterling-resident amongst the leaders and when the checkered fell ending the session Liam had posted a time of 1m29.189s -- good for fourth on the grid for Sunday's race and Liam's strongest qualifying session to-date steering the 2-liter TDI clean diesel-powered 2009 Jetta. Pole went to Round 1 race winner, Georgia's Mark Pombo with a time of 1m28.946s.
From a standing start, the field hurtled towards the first turn on Sunday afternoon as Round 3 commenced with Liam immediately jostling for position. Up to third by the end of the first tour, the second lap saw Kenney seize the lead followed directly by Chris Castagna in the #37 car. Five laps later and both cars were neck and neck gunning down the long start-finish straight at Portland with Castagna emerging victorious.
Two laps later and it was Liam's turn to lead once again, this time with eventual race winner Josh Hurley breathing down his neck. Lap 14 saw Kenney passed by Hurley and together with Mark Pombo they formed a three car train gradually breaking away from the chasing pack. Liam survived some late-race tussling to take second behind Hurley and ahead of third-place finisher David Jurca.
"It was intense getting going that's for sure," declared Kenney following the podium celebrations. "I capitalized on a really good start and got up on the inside to take third. Two laps in and I managed to grab the lead for a bit. It was just crazy busy out there though. You couldn't but help get caught up in all the dicing for position that was going on.
"I wanted to make sure that I finished on the podium but I traded the lead for a few laps. The last five laps I held second but it was getting crazy with the amount of contact going on. It would have been nice to win but second's not a bad result considering our previous results. I'm really excited to build on this and use it as a platform for taking that first win. I've always loved racing in Portland and today proved to be no exception!"
Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Connecticut hosts Round 4 of the 2008 Jetta TDI Cup Series, the halfway stage of the season, Friday 15th -- Saturday 16th August 2008 -- www.limerock.com