LAKEVILLE, Conn. (May 31, 2004) – Bill Auberlen, of Rolling Hills Estates, Calif., put on an impressive driving display from the pole position today to win Round Two of the SCCA Pro Racing SPEED Touring Car Championship at Lime Rock Park, as part of the Mohegan Sun Grand Prix. Nic Jonsson, of Buford, Ga., and Peter Cunningham, of West Bend, Wis., completed the top three.-30-
With rain in the forecast for the start of the SPEED Touring Car race, the rain stayed away just long enough to allow the race to be run under dry conditions. This meant good news for the entire field and point leader Auberlen, who had never run a SPEED Touring Car race at Lime Rock in the dry. With this in mind, Auberlen showed just how dominant he could be, as at one point in the race he had a nine second lead over second place finisher Jonsson. Driving his No. 1 Turner Motorsport/H&R Springs BMW 325i, it appeared Auberlen was on cruise control as he ultimately won by 5.811-seconds at an average speed of 91.088 mph for the 43-lap event.
“The car was fantastic,” Auberlen who is perfect thus far in 2004. “I’ve never driven a Touring Car race here in the dry and wondered if I could stick it up front somehow. When you are in a car that was that good, with a team that is that good, you almost can’t lose.”
Auberlen recorded his second career SPEED Touring Car win at Lime Rock and his second win of 2004.
Riding in fourth place for the first 21 laps of the race, Jonsson passed then third place driver Matt Plumb, of Newport, R.I., after the two made contact in turn three to take over third place. Jonsson then had his sights set on second place driver Pierre Kleinubing, of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., but was having difficulty chasing him down. However on lap 32, Jonsson got a break when Kleinubing spun in turn one, handing second to the No. 27 Lectric Air/Techmark Corporation BMW 325Ci.
“There was a lot of fuel spilling out the first half of the race,” Jonsson said about the cars in front of him. “It was really slippery behind those cars. Then I got by them and paced myself, trying to score as many points as possible. We had a good run. I am very happy to be on the podium for the first time in SPEED World Challenge.”
Kleinubing, who was gunning for his record fourth-consecutive SPEED Touring Car win at Lime Rock, had fuel pick up problems end his day two laps shy of the finish.
Cunningham, who started seventh on the grid, patiently and methodically knifed his way through traffic to finish third in his No. 4 NISMO/TeamRTR/Nissan Sentra SE-R.
“At Lime Rock, it is all about the traffic Gods,” Cunningham said of how difficult it is to pass here. “You hope and pray they’re going to be kind because, with that many cars, it is hard to keep them away from each other. We had pretty good luck in traffic, but it was kind a give and take. Our car ran really well.”
Justin Marks, of Chico, Calif., brought his No. 2 Turner Motorsport/H&R Springs BMW 325i home in fourth, while the 2003 SPEED Touring Car rookie of the Year Plumb finished fifth in his No. 43 RealTime/SANZ/Sun MicroSystems Acura TSX.
Bob Stretch, of Dallas, won the Sunoco Hard Charger of the Race award for advancing 30 positions throughout the race. He also won the B&M Holeshot award for advancing 18 positions on the first lap of the race.
Auberlen leads the SPEED Touring Car Drivers’ Championship with 68 points, followed by Jonsson (48 points), James Sofronas (45), Marks (44) and Jeff Altenburg (41).
BMW leads the SPEED Touring Manufacturers’ Championship Presented by Racer Magazine with 18 points, followed by Acura (nine), Nissan (five) and Mazda (four).
The series next heads to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course June 25-27 for Round Three of the SCCA SPEED World Challenge Touring Car Championship.
Today’s race will initially air at 12:00 p.m. (EDT), June 6 on SPEED Channel.
For more information, visit www.world-challenge.com.
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