Mid-Ohio: Series Touring Car race report

BimmerWorld, Joey Hand Take First SPEED Touring Car Victory at Mid-Ohio LEXINGTON, Ohio (July 22, 2007) -- The addition of Joey Hand, from Sacramento, Calif., to the BimmerWorld driver line-up paid huge dividends as both Hand and BimmerWorld ...

Mid-Ohio: Series Touring Car race report

BimmerWorld, Joey Hand Take First SPEED Touring Car Victory at Mid-Ohio

LEXINGTON, Ohio (July 22, 2007) -- The addition of Joey Hand, from Sacramento, Calif., to the BimmerWorld driver line-up paid huge dividends as both Hand and BimmerWorld captured their first series victories in SCCA SPEED World Challenge Touring Car competition at the Round Seven race from Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course presented by Trenton Forging. Chip Herr, of Lititz, Pa., and Jeff Altenburg of Ellicott City, Md., completed the podium.

As the lights went out, signaling the start of the Round Seven SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge Touring Car Championship race, second-starting Herr rocketed off the line in his No. 17 STaSIS/Clear Capital/Sewickley Audi A4, pulling a gap immediately on polesitter Altenburg who was busy defending his spot from James Sofronas and Jason Martinelli. Meanwhile, Hand fell a spot to fifth, while his teammate Seth Thomas, of Cumming, Ga., sat motionless on the fourth grid position in his No. 38 BimmerWorld BMW 325i with a driveline issue.

Eager to bounce back from his poor start, Hand picked off the No. 8 Tecmark Autosport Ltd. BMW 325Ci of Martinelli on lap six and took the third spot from Sofronas on lap 16. The No. 37 BimmerWorld BMW 325i driver then set his sights on Altenburg and Herr.

"It took me a little while to get used to the car with these tires," Hand said. "At the end of the race, I was dead, dead loose, especially in the high-speed stuff. So there was a little bit of tire management at the end. I was adjusting the lines at the end of the race to compensate for that.

"Being the leaders, both of these guys, did as I would do, defendeding the straightaway, which is your best place to pass. We had some [great] outside-inside racing. Altenburg and I were dead sideways for four corners. I don't know how we didn't wreck. If that's not a show for TV and these fans here, then I don't know what is."

Hand made the pass stick following his side-by-side show with Altenburg in the Esses and had five laps to reel in Herr. Hand gave it everything he had, locking up the brakes and dropping wheels, but on the last lap, it was Herr who gave Hand a golden opportunity, locking up and running wide in the Keyhole, allowing the BMW to sneak through. Hand crossed the finish line 1.064 seconds ahead of Herr for the win in his first SPEED Touring Car start, averaging 87.457 MPH in the 27-lap, 60.966 mile-race.

"It's great to be in SPEED World Challenge Touring Car and in the Bimmerworld BMW 325i. BMWs are where I've been for the last four years and it is the Ultimate Driving Machine. I love this kind of racing--these short races. A knock down, drag out fight is what it's all about.

Hand also reset the race lap record, turning a 1:32.946 (87.457 mph) around the 13-turn, 2.258-mile road course. The race was a far cry from Hand's Grand-Am race last year at Mid-Ohio, when his BMW somersaulted across the back straight after hitting an access road during an off-course excursion.

"Someone said to me 'I think Mid-Ohio owed you one.' And I was like, 'you're right, Mid-Ohio did owe me one.' I was driving down the inside, trying to get the line on these guys and I kept thinking about what happened last year down the back straightaway.

"It was a great race. It's a great feeling. I have to thank James Clay and Bimmerword for putting me in this thing. I have a great teammate in Seth Thomas, who is really fun to drive with and I've got a new friend. It's not always going to be like this, so you take it when you can get it."

Herr led every lap except the last to take his second podium of the season.

"I had a feeling that both Jeff [Altenburg] and Joey [Hand] were both going to come by me on the back straight the way they were running together," Herr said. "I got a decent start--enough to get in front of Jeff and my whole hope was that the BMWs would just work on Jeff and force him to run a defensive line, which turned out to be a gift for me for a while.

"I tried to run the car hard all race and run consistent lap times. But toward the end, it was starting to slide around a little bit. When you've got competitive guys behind you like this, you can't just back off for three laps and then get back up to speed.

"On the last lap, I did make a mistake in the Keyhole. I just got a little deep. I was modulating the brake pedal and just trying to keep from spinning the car and didn't get it turned in. He got a great run going out of the Keyhole and took advantage of what happened to me.

"We were both sliding around and giving each other enough room. On the last lap through the Carousel, I had the car in a drift the entire time. We did put a show on."

A third-place finish wasn't the win Altenburg was looking for, but it was the most fun he's had in the No. 72 Mazdaspeed Motorsports Development Mazda 6 in a while.

"That was one of the most fun races of my career," Altenburg said. "A couple of times early, I had a chance to get close to Chip [Herr] but never in a potential passing situation. I don't think Joey and I touched at all. That was some of the most fun, close, awesome racing--respecting each other's space the whole way. There aren't too many people I feel comfortable with doing that with, but he's definitely one of them.

"Once Randy [Pobst] went off and I was dicing really hard with Joey, I was like 'you idiot, you're in the points lead now.' But I knew I could trust Joey, and Chip, to be clean. After that race, we're real happy with third."

With his teammate Pobst exiting the race on lap 12 in his No. 73 Mazdaspeed Motorsports Development Mazda 6 with damaged suspension following contact with the No. 18 STaSIS/Clear Capital/Sewickley Audi A4 of Adam Pecorari, Altenburg leads the SPEED Touring Car Drivers' Championship by 17 points ahead of Pobst (215 to 198).

After finishing fourth at Mid-Ohio in his No. 29 Tecmark Autosport/GMG BMW 325Ci and winning the Toyo Tires Cup Award, Sofronas, of Newport Beach, Calif., moves into third in the Drivers' Championship with 171 points.

Pierre Kleinubing, of Coconut Creek, Fla., picked up five positions in the race, finishing fifth in his No. 1 Certified Pre-Owned Acura Certified Pre-Owned Acura TSX.

Toronto winner Peter Cunningham (Acura TSX) finished sixth, followed by Ian Baas (Audi A4) and Charles Espenlaub (Mazda 6). Adam Pecorari (Audi A4) and Kuno Wittmer (Acura RSX) completed the top ten.

Charlie Putnam, driver of the No. 96 Tindol Motorsports/Pesco Inc. Mazda 6 won the Sunoco Hard Charger of the Race award for advancing six positions. Putnam picked up three of those positions on the start, which also gave him the B&M Shifters Holeshot Award.

Roberto Santos was the Piltoi Rookie of the Race, finishing 13th in his No. 74 Mazdaspeed Motorsports Development/TPM Mazda 6.

Mazda now leads Acura by 19 points (53 to 34) in the SCCA SPEED Touring Car Manufacturers' Championship Presented by Racer Magazine. BMW and Audi are tied for third with 26 points each.

The race will be broadcast on SPEED, Saturday, July 28, at 3:00 p.m. (EDT).

Round Eight of the SCCA SPEED World Challenge Touring Car Championship heads back over the border for Mobil 1 Presents The Grand Prix of Mosport, Sunday, August 26.

-credit: scca

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