SCC: Mid-Ohio: Series round seven preview

WILDEN, REHAGEN RACING RETURN TO MID-OHIO SEEKING ANOTHER KONI CHALLENGE WIN, INCREASE IN POINT LEAD Skavnes, SRRT Going For Three Straight In Street Tuner DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 17, 2009) - Two years ago, Ken Wilden was making only his ...

SCC: Mid-Ohio: Series round seven preview

Skavnes, SRRT Going For Three Straight In Street Tuner

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 17, 2009) - Two years ago, Ken Wilden was making only his second start in one of Rehagen Racing's Ford Mustang GTs in Grand-Am KONI Sports Car Challenge Grand Sport (GS) competition at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

That weekend, the Oakville, Ontario driver earned his first career win with Dean Martin, and his second straight podium for Rehagen. In all, he grabbed three podiums in four starts for the Michigan-based team before moving on to other opportunities.

In terms of opportunities for this weekend's seventh round, Wilden has several. Not only will he shoot for his second straight Mid-Ohio victory - the GS class did not compete at the 2.258-mile, 13-turn track in 2008 - in the No. 59 Rehagen Racing Ford Mustang GT, but he is hoping to give the car its 13th straight top-10 finish. In doing so, he could extend his 18-point lead (169-151) over James Gue and Bret Seafuse.

The GS race will commence at 1:45 p.m. Saturday, while the Street Tuner (ST) event is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Sunday.

"Mid-Ohio is a good track," said Wilden, who earned his second career win last month at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. "I think we're going to have our work cut out for us this weekend though. I think the Mustangs will do all right, and we're just hoping for a top-five finish and to stay out of trouble to stay atop the championship. We're in the mode of just doing the best we can and putting the pressure on our competitors to push harder than they would want."

While Wilden is holding off Seafuse and Gue - driving the No. 37 Trumansburg ShurSave Ford Mustang GT and still seeking their first win together - for the lead, Martin is tied with Duncan Ende for fifth. Both drivers have 139 points and each owns a victory this season; Ende co-drives with Spencer Pumpelly in TRG's No. 39 DigiTrust Group/Adam's Polishes Porsche 997.

Third is Chris Gleason, co-driver of the No. 97 Turner Motorsport BMW M3 with Joey Hand, with 146 points, while Matt Bell is fourth, seeking his fifth pole position in the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M3 he co-drives with Bill Auberlen, with 141 points. Also still in championship contention are Jack Roush Jr. (No. 61 Valvoline/Roush Ford Mustang GT, 138 points); Todd Lamb and Glenn Bocchino (No. 32 Cybernation/Cobalt Friction BMW M3, 137 points); Andy Lally and John Potter (No. 41 Magnus Racing Porsche 997; winners at Watkins Glen, 136 points); and Hugh Plumb (131 points).

Ohio natives seeking strong performances this weekend at Mid-Ohio are Centerville-born Bryan Sellers (No. 8 Maxwell Paper Products Co. Porsche 997), Columbus' Ray Mason (No. 52 Columbus Truck & Equipment Ford Mustang GT) and Medina's Mark Hillestad (No. 99 H&S Tools/Imported Car Store BMW M3).

Skavnes, SRRT Shooting For Three Straight

In the wet or dry, Kristian Skavnes knows how to win at Mid-Ohio in KONI Challenge ST action in the No. 111 Subaru of America Subaru Legacy. He and Andrew Aquilante will try to close in on Christian Miller's 22-point lead (175-153).

Skavnes is shooting for his third straight victory at Mid-Ohio in the No. 111; his past two wins have come with Chuck Hemmingson. Last season's victory helped keep Skavnes in the championship fight all season - he eventually finished fourth in the driver standings - and after six rounds this season he and Aquilante are third in the points. Another win could elevate them in the standings.

"Mid-Ohio for us is a special place," said Skavnes, who along with Aquilante has five finishes of seventh or better this season. "We've won there in the dry two years ago and last year in the wet, so we're good there either way. The car's all-wheel drive works really well at the track. We're looking forward to going there and taking this to the end of the year for the championship."

Miller and Randy Pobst - fourth in the standings after missing an earlier race this season - drive the No. 74 034 Motorsport/Skunk2 Honda Civic Si for Compass360 Racing. The two have two victories this season and five straight top fives. Another Compass360 Racing pair, Travis Walker and John Kuitwaard, drive the No. 76 Skunk2/ Honda Civic Si, which won at Lime Rock Park, giving both drivers their first KONI Challenge wins.

Currently sixth in points and poised to move up are Ian Baas and rookie Josh Hurley in the No. 171 APR Tuning/Gunther VW Volkswagen GTI. The APR Motorsport pair's teammates Mike Sweeney and Dion von Moltke, in the No. 181 APR Tuning/BBS Volkswagen GTI, earned the team's first victory June 5 at Watkins Glen. Sweeney is ninth in ST points.

Rookie Bret Spaude is seventh driving the No. 27 Southern Auto Auction/Honda of Keene, with Will Turner in eighth in the No. 95 Turner Motorsport BMW 328i, which won at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Another rookie, Andrew Carbonell in the No. 146 Mazda/Freedom Autosport Mazda MX-5, is 10th.

Ohio drivers competing in ST are Marysville's Chad Gilsinger and Dublin's Bryan Johnson (No. 22 Red Line Oil Honda Civic Si); Tiffin's Zach Arnold (No. 23 V-Pack Motorsport BMW Z4); Cincinnati's BJ Zacharias (No. 24 V-Pack Motorsport BMW Z4); North Canton's Will Nonnamaker (No. 43 Mazda RX-8); Sunbury's John Schmitt (No. 92 Red Line Oil Honda Civic Si); and Dover's Dan Harding and New Philadelphia's M Allen Milarcik (No. 151 Harding Park Cycle/Walton Auto Parks Mazda RX-8).

-credit: grand-am

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