SONOMA, Calif. (July 17, 2005) – Bill Auberlen, of Rolling Hills Estates, Calif., shot off the start in his No. 1 Turner Motorsports/H&R Springs BMW 325i, ripped off the UrbanRacer.com Hot Lap of the Race with a 1:47.851 (84.449 mph) on the second lap and was never challenged through the rest of the SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge Touring Car Round Seven race at the Infineon Grand Prix of Sonoma Presented by Ravenswood Winery. Tri-Point Motorsport teammates Randy Pobst, of Gainesville, Ga., and Dino Crescentini, of Malibu, Calif., finished second and third, respectively. -30-
Auberlen’s fast lap set a new SPEED Touring Car record at Infineon, but it was Auberlen’s caution-free, record-breaking average speed of 83.513 mph around the 2.53-mile course that held Air Force Reserve polesitter Pobst’s No. 73 Mazdaspeed/Tri-Point Motorsport Mazda 6 at bay.
As fast as he was, Auberlen said it was the start that determined the final outcome of the 23-lap, 58.19-mile race.
“All I was banking on was that that [Mazda] would just light the tires up on the start,” Auberlen said. “I was hoping for that, but this time, it sounded a lot better and when the lights went off, it took off good. I thought, ‘oh man, this is going to be close,’ and I just eeked it out. That was my break.
“After the start, I just put my head down and I think Randy was caught up with James [Clay] and it gave me just a little bit of breathing room to start working. I thought I was going to start driving away, but it just never happened. If it did, it happened in little chunks, a few tenths here and there.”
Pobst said his start was one of his better ones, but after that, he didn’t have enough to catch up to Auberlen.
“It was a good start for me, and I was pretty pleased about that,” Pobst said. “Billy was able to get by me though, which I was worried about. The BMWs are a little better on the standing start. The big problem was that there was a BimmerWorld car [James Clay] that jumped up at the start and was a big threat. I did everything I could to keep him behind me, and I slid the car into turn two and it worked fortunately.
“From there on, I said, ‘let’s see if we can run with Bill,’ because I knew he was going to be fast, and he was. I put my head down and drove as fast as I could, every turn of every lap, but he was just oozing away, like molasses down hill. I could not get there. I’m real happy for Tri-Point and Mazda today to have two of us up here.”
Sunday marked a first for Crescentini (No. 74 Mazdaspeed/Centric/Tri-Point Mazda 6) as he ascended his first-ever World Challenge podium, which was also his first professional top-three finish.
“It’s great to be up here. It’s the first time I’ve ever been up here,” Crescentini said. “I’m almost speechless. I couldn’t have done it without all the help from Tri-Point. They’ve given me a great car, a lot of motivation and backed me every step of the way.”
Team BimmerWorld took fourth and fifth in Sunday’s race as James Clay, of Blacksburg, Va., started and finished fourth in the No. 36 BimmerWorld/BMW 325i, and “Mad Dog” Matt Richmond, of Mooresville, N.C., took fifth in the No. 37 BimmerWorld BMW 325i.
Bob Stretch, of Dallas, Texas, won the B&M Holeshot Award in the No. 98 Wheels America B5Wheels BMW 325Ci for passing three cars on the opening lap from his 12th-starting position.
Seth Thomas, of Cumming, Ga., in the No. 38 BimmerWorld/BMW 325i, earned the Sunoco Hard Charger Award for finishing eighth after starting 15th.
RealTime Racing principle Peter Cunningham (No. 42 A-SPEC/RealTime Racing Acura TSX) finished ninth Sunday, which kept him on top of the SPEED Touring Car Drivers’ Championship standings. His 174 points lead teammate Pierre Kleinubing, of Coconut Creek, Fla. (168), who finished sixth. Pobst’s efforts this weekend were rewarded as he jumped from fifth to third (148) in the points race after earning 27 points for second place. Eric Curran, of South Deerfield, Mass., is the third RealTime driver in the top five at fourth (137), while Pobst’s Tri-Point teammate, Jeff Altenburg, of Ellicott City, Md., dropped from third to fifth (136) after a mechanical failure.
RealTime Racing’s 19-year old Brandon Davis (No. 44 A-SPEC/RealTime Racing Acura TSX) went into the Infineon weekend in charge of The Winning Team Racing Apparel Rookie of the Year race and improved his top standing as he finished seventh - highest among Touring Car rookies after charging from 26th on the grid owing to a post-qualifying tire change. He leads Rick Snyder, of Arvada, Colo., 124-38.
In the SCCA Pro Racing SPEED Touring Car Manufacturers’ Championship Presented by Racer Magazine, Acura maintains a slight lead over Mazda (49-45), while BMW (38) sliced a sizable portion off of Acura’s advantage on the strength of Auberlen’s back-to-back wins.
For more information about Round Seven from Infineon Raceway, or for Round Eight’s July 29-31 Grand Prix of Portland, visit www.world-challenge.com.
To forward this story, use this link: http://www.scca.com/News/News.asp?Ref=363