JOLIET, Ill. (July 25, 2009) – The 27 drivers competing in Round Five of the SCCA Pro Racing Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup arrived today at Autobahn Country Club in Joliet, Illinois to compete at a track that is hosting its first professional race weekend. The 21-turn, 3.56-mile road course was largely a mystery for the competitors since only local driver, Timmy Megenbier had ever driven on the circuit.
It was no surprise to anyone that Megenbier, a Melrose Park, Illinois-native, topped the speed charts in morning practice, while many of the other drivers struggled to master the course with the most turns that the series will see during the season. Megenbier’s time of 2:46.974 during the morning practice session was a half-second ahead of the rest of the field that included Andy Lee (2:47.520) and Andrew Cordeiro (2:48.461) in the top three positions.
“With this being the first big race held at this track, it was really hard to prepare for this weekend,” said Cordeiro. “Given my lack of track knowledge, I wasn’t concerned about going out and tearing up the track right out of the box. I just went out and tried to give myself plenty of spacing on the track so that I was able to try different lines going into the corners. With 21 turns, it’s one of the most challenging tracks we’ve run on, so it’s especially rewarding when you put down a good lap time.”
The qualifying session started off much as followers of the series would expect with Megenbier at the top of the speed chart. However, after his sixth lap, he pulled into the pits with 0.7-second lead in order to save his tires for the race. As the clocked ticked down to end the session, Megenbier was still at the top until Maricopa, Arizona’s Andy Lee took a flyer on his last lap and put his No. 27 car on the pole for tomorrow’s race with a time of 2:46.171. Megenbier (2:46.204) and Joey Atterbury (2:46.482) rounded out the top three starting spots.
“I was really frustrated throughout the qualifying session,” Lee said. “It seemed that I couldn’t find clear track to get a good lap. I think that I only was able to get two good ones the entire session. I messed up the first, but thankfully, I was able to regroup and get what I was after. It’s really exciting for me because this is my first pole in any form of racing. However, I know that tomorrow is what really counts, so I’ll do my best to hang on to my spot.”
Despite not hanging on for the pole for his home race, Megenbier has his eyes on the larger prize.
“It’s been a great weekend for me so far with all of my family and sponsors here to watch me,” Megenbier said. “Obviously, I wish I could have won the pole, but I’m happy for Andy (Lee). He had a great lap, so he deserves it. I’m starting up front, and I know what to expect from the guys around me, so I’m hoping for the best.”
Three guest drivers are joining the series for this weekend’s race including Autobahn founding member and local Volkswagen dealer, Richard Fisher, extreme skier and TV personality, Glen Plake and journalist, Jeff Olson. Fisher posted the best time of the three during the qualifying session and will be starting from the fifth position. Plake and Olson will start 26th and 27th respectively.
The Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup series returns to action Sunday at 4:55 pm CT at Autobahn Country Club for Round 5 of the season. Live timing and scoring is available at http://www.livetiming.net/SCCA/VW/livetiming.asp.