SCC: Watkins Glen: Round eight preview
Grand-Am KONI Challenge Series Competitors Ready to Resume Action in Saturday's Supercuts 200 at The Glen DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 4, 2007) -- For the first time since the season-opening Fresh From Florida 200 at Daytona International Speedway, ...
Grand-Am KONI Challenge Series Competitors Ready to Resume Action in Saturday's Supercuts 200 at The Glen
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 4, 2007) -- For the first time since the season-opening Fresh From Florida 200 at Daytona International Speedway, Grand-Am KONI Challenge Series competitors will participate in the same race, as the Grand Sport (GS) and Street Tuner (ST) divisions resume action in Saturday's three-hour Supercuts 200 at The Glen, which begins at 3:30 p.m. at Watkins Glen International.
Joe Foster (GS) and Trevor Hopwood and Adam Burrows (ST) all hold tight grasps as leaders of their respective championship points standings, and head to The Glen hoping for better performances following their races at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course two weeks ago.
Foster, who co-drove the No. 55 Hyper Sport Supercuts Ford Mustang GT to victory at Mosport International Raceway with Scott Maxwell, holds a five-point cushion (188-183) over Automatic Racing teammates Jeff Segal and Jep Thornton. Maxwell was running third two weeks ago at Mid-Ohio when contact with another car spun him into the wall. The team also lost power steering and finished 14th. Maxwell, who missed round three at Iowa Speedway, now sits fourth in points.
In contrast, Segal and Thornton recorded their third podium finish of 2007 at Mid-Ohio in the No. 09 Automatic Racing Fresh From Florida/Gleukos Sports Drink BMW M3, and are shooting for their first victory of the season at The Glen. The pair hasn't finished lower than sixth in the last five races. Automatic Racing also has three other cars entered with the No. 90 Automatic Racing Fresh From Florida/Weeden Consultants/Land Air BMW M3 of Jon Miller and Serge Giazunov Jr., the No. 91 Automatic Racing Fresh From Florida/Gleukos Sports Drink/Imported Car Store BMW M3 of Tim George Jr. and Conrad Grunewald, and the No. 99 Automatic Racing Fresh From Florida/Engine Studios/Rogue Engineering BMW M3 of Tom Long and David Russell.
Early season leader Tom Nastasi also struggled at Mid-Ohio, finishing 27th after contact, and has slipped to fifth in the standings after opening the season with three straight victories. With only one top-10 in the last four races, Nastasi will look to regroup as he partners with Ian James in the No. 5 Blackforest Motorsports USG Sheetrock/Ramset Tools Ford Mustang GT. Valerie Limoges and Travis Walker will share the No. 4 Blackforest Motorsports USG Sheetrock/Ramset Tools Ford Mustang GT, while Salvador Jimenez and Roly Faigueras will pilot the No. 2 Blackforest Motorsports Ford Mustang GT.
Another pair of drivers looking to regroup after Mid-Ohio are James Gue and Bret Seafuse in the No. 37 JBS Motorsports Trumansburg ShurSave Ford Mustang GT. An 18th-place finish at Mid-Ohio dropped the pair from fifth to a sixth-place tie, and both drivers will try to improve on a season-best fourth (set in back-to-back races earlier in the year at Homestead and Iowa). Seafuse, of Trumansburg, N.Y. is one of several New York natives entered for the GS race; his teammate Mark Ackley of Horseheads, N.Y. co-drives the No. 137 JBS Motorsports ACKCO Inc. Consulting Group Ford Mustang GT with Todd Snyder.
Dean Martin -- co-driving the No. 52 Rehagen Racing Piloti/Columbus Truck & Equipment Ford Mustang GT with Ken Wilden -- scored the pair's and team's first career KONI Challenge Series victory at Mid-Ohio, and Martin in turn moved from 10th to eighth in the standings. Martin and Wilden have finished on the podium during the last two races. Craig Stanton, sharing the No. 38 BGB Motorsports Porsche 997 with Hugh Plumb, holds ninth in the standings, thanks in part to finishes of fifth and sixth in the last two races. Plumb is currently 12th.
Rounding out the top 10 are Ted Ballou and Andy Lally, who have finished sixth or better in four straight races and five overall this season. Lally made his way through the field at Mid-Ohio to take second for the pair and the No. 41 TRG Carlsen Porsche/Mitchell Global Porsche 997 team. The TRG team is also fielding three other Porsche 997s -- the No. 39 Carlsen Porsche/DigiTrust Group/Fox River Coffee Porsche 997 (Duncan Ende and Grant Maiman), No. 40 Carlsen Porsche/CDI/Carrera Design Porsche 997 (John Bibbo and Scott Schroeder) and the No. 42 Driving.ca/Canada.com Porsche 997 (Pierre Bourque).
After taking several races off to shoot a movie, Hollywood star Patrick Dempsey may return to GS competition in the No. 54 Hyper Sport Supercuts Ford Mustang GT -- the team car to points leader Foster -- with Rick Skelton. Dempsey finished a career-best sixth in March at Homestead-Miami Speedway, one of his two starts this season. Michael Auriemma, of Munsey Park, N.Y., is another New York native entered in the race, and will be among the busiest drivers, co-driving the No. 30 ACG Motorsports Porsche 997 with John Mayes and Gerardo Bonilla and the No. 49 Marcus Motorsports MAH 720 Property Management/Auriemma Consulting Group Porsche 997 with Spencer Pumpelly.
Other strong competitors expected to contend for victory include the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M3 with Bill Auberlen and Chris Gleason and their teammates Will Turner and Don Salama in the No. 97 Turner Motorsport BMW M3 as well as No. 79 Kinetic Motorsports Said Head Performance/Savvion BMW M3 co-drivers Shawn Price and Nic Jonnson.
Despite a 22nd-place finish in the ST race at Mid-Ohio, points leaders Hopwood and Burrows -- who co-drive the No. 95 Turner Motorsport BMW 330i -- managed to extend their advantage to eight points (173-165) over Karl Thomson and Billy Johnson, who drive the No. 76 Kensai Racing Compass360.com/Skunk2/Hawk Brakes Acura TSX. Both drivers were involved in a first-lap altercation at Mid-Ohio involving another car, and hard labor by both teams allowed each to finish and score points with both drivers.
Hopwood and Burrows are looking for their first victory of the season. They have finished second twice, including at Mosport, where Johnson passed Burrows on the race's final lap for Johnson and Thomson's series-leading third victory of 2007. Johnson and Thomson have also won at Daytona and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Two other cars from the Kensai Racing camp -- the No. 74 (Matt Pritiko and David Tuaty) and No. 75 (Taz Harvey and Beau Buisson) -- are also entered in the Supercuts 200 at The Glen.
Finishing a season-best second at Mid-Ohio were No. 69 SpeedSource Mondial Forwarding Mazda RX-8 co-drivers Jose Armengol and David Haskell, the duo's fifth top-10 in 2007. With the team's consistency, Armengol has moved into fifth in ST points, only 10 behind Hopwood and Burrows. Dan Allen, who co-piloted the car with Armengol in the first seven races, sits 10th in the standings.
Sixth in ST points is Guy Cosmo, driving one of three Fountain Motorsports BMW 330i machines this weekend. Cosmo, co-driving the No. 127 Fountain Motorsports Ironclad/Hawk Brakes BMW 330i with a driver to be named, has finished sixth or better in each of the last five races, a streak which started with a victory at Iowa. His teammates include New York natives Michael Fonte and Paul Stoddart in the No. 125 Fountain Motorsports Fonte Surgical Supply/The Uniform Shop BMW 330i and Seth Thomas and New York native Sam Schultz (tied for eighth in points) in the No. 126 Fountain Motorsports Trackmasters/Ironclad BMW 330i.
Nick Wittmer and Glenn Bocchino, seventh and eighth in ST points, will again share the driver's seat in the No. 31 i-MOTO Racing Alpinestar/Cobalt Friction Acura TSX. The pair, separated by seven points, finished third together at Mid-Ohio. Wittmer's best finish was second at Iowa, co-driving a car with his brother Kuno Wittmer.
No. 22 HART Red Line Oil/Honda of America Honda Accord co-drivers Shane Lewis and John Schmitt bode close watching as well. The pair won at Homestead and finished third at Mosport, driving their "parts car" after their primary car became disabled after qualifying.
Several other cars that have been close to winning recent races are also entered. Toby Grahovec and Pierre Kleinubing will drive the No. 86 Classic BMW -- Plano BMW Z4 and Eric Curran and Jamie Holtom are entered in the No. 01 Georgian Bay Motorsports SCADAPack Chevrolet Cobalt.
Other New York natives set to take part at Watkins Glen include No. 13 SDS Performance Racing Reade Roofing/Brown Motors Dodge SRT4 co-driver Manny Matz (with Derrick Reade and Steve Sliwa) and their team car, the No. 73 SDS Performance Racing Payment Processing Consultants/Samco Hoses Dodge SRT4 with co-driver John Bosch (with Sliwa).
Practice for the GS and ST divisions begins Thursday afternoon, with qualifying slated for 5:45 and 6 p.m. Friday. The three-hour race on the 3.4-mile, 11-turn track is scheduled to start at 3:30 p.m. Saturday.
Watkins Glen Fast Facts
What: Grand-Am KONI Challenge Series Grand Sport (GS) and Street Tuner (ST) divisions
Who: KONI Challenge competitors from across the United States, Canada and Latin America
Where: Watkins Glen International -- Watkins Glen, New York
When: Saturday, July 7, 2007 at 3:30 p.m.
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