Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup Championship Hunt Heats Up at New Jersey Motorsports Park Megenbier looks to clinch series Championship during double-race weekend The 24 drivers competing in the SCCA Pro Racing Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup have been ...
Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup Championship Hunt Heats Up at New Jersey
Megenbier looks to clinch series Championship during double-race weekend
The 24 drivers competing in the SCCA Pro Racing Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup have been traveling familiar territory as of late. Starting with the most recent race at Mosport International Raceway, the final three events are on circuits that the series visited in 2008.
The Jetta TDI Cup made its first visit to New Jersey Motorsports Park for a doubleheader weekend during its inaugural season last year. The races were won by David Jurca and Liam Kenny who have moved on in other motorsports pursuits. With their absence, the drivers will be hungry for victory in the series' trip to the 14-turn, 2.225-mile road course.
Last weekend, the Jetta TDI Cup traveled north of the U.S. border to visit Canada's Mosport International Raceway. The elements played part in all of the weekend's action, as the drivers encountered rain, fog and even a little sun. Despite the added challenges, it was series veteran Mark Pombo who dominated at Mosport and became the fifth different race winner this season after topping the speed charts in practice, qualifying and leading all 17 laps of the race. The win was Pombo's first victory of the season, his second career series win, and it moved him into fourth place in the points standings. Current series points leader, Timmy Megenbier increased his Championship lead to 39 points with a second-place finish, while Ontario's Andrew Cordeiro came in third on his home track.
"Mosport was the kind of race that I've been looking for all year," Pombo said. "I knew that I've had the pace to win in nearly every race, but it seems that I kept running into some unlucky situations along the way. My only regret is that this win didn't come sooner because I now have quite a deficit to make up in the points standings. It's not over though. I've learned that anything can happen in racing, but I definitely need a little help to make the necessary gains. I'm prepared to put my head down and go for it during the last three races. It's time to go for broke."
Eight drivers from last season have returned in attempt to capture the series title that carries not only a cash prize but also promise of career advancement. Last year's first and second-place finishers in the Championship both moved on to more advanced series for 2009. The 2008 champion, Josh Hurley is competing in the Grand Am Koni Challenge series, while the series' runner up is competing in the Formula ADAC Masters powered by Volkswagen series in Europe. With three races left in the season, Megenbier hopes that he can maintain his consistency and wrap up the title in New Jersey. So far this season, the series veteran has three wins, six podium appearances, two poles and has led 41 laps (42 percent of all laps this season).
"Wins at New Jersey would be great, but I realize that in order to maximize my chances at winning the Championship, I just need to finish up front and get as many points as possible," Megenbier said. "I need to avoid putting myself in positions that would possibly cause me to damage my car, and I've done a pretty good job at that so far this year. At this point, I just need to stay focused on the mental part, and the rest should fall into place. Having experience at New Jersey from last year should help me. I won my only pole of the season there last year, so I have a good idea of what it takes to be fast. If I'm able to walk away from the second race with a 61-point lead, the Championship will be mine."
Of the eight drivers who competed in the series' races last year at New Jersey Motorsports Park, four of them turned in top-10 finishes including Pombo (sixth / sixth), Megenbier (19th / seventh), Derek Jones (26th / fifth) and Taylor Broekemeier (12th / ninth). Megenbier also captured the pole position in the second race and led a lap early on before falling back to seventh at the finish.
Philadelphia native eager to return to New Jersey Motorsports Park
When the Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup heads to New Jersey Motorsports Park, series veteran, Derek Jones won't have to hop on the usual airplane to travel to the race. He'll have the luxury of getting behind the wheel of his 2008 Volkswagen Rabbit and cruising down the New Jersey Highway from his home in Philadelphia.
In 2008, he scored one podium and two top-five finishes, including a fifth-place finish in the second race in New Jersey. This season, Jones is currently 10th in the Championship standings on the strength of five top-10 finishes. His best finish of fifth came at the second race of the season at VIRginia International Raceway.
"It's been a bit of a rocky season for me so far," Jones said. "I've been consistent with finishing in the top third of the field, but I feel like I should be farther forward. I'm hurting myself in qualifying and giving up too many starting positions. However, I hope to turn things around at New Jersey. It's a fast, cut-throat track, and these kinds of circuits seem to suit me best. My goal is to put on a good show for my family and friends that will be at the track to watch me. Hopefully, they'll be able to cheer for me as I step onto the podium."
Jones began his racing career in karting at age eight and has since progressed into SCCA Spec Miata and Historic Formula One racing. He also is the executive director of Atelier Storage, an art and antique storage facility in the heart of Philadelphia.
There's green racing, and there's the Jetta TDI Cup -- Truly green racing