PORTLAND, Ore. (July 29, 2005) – Charles Espenlaub, of Lutz, Fla., was fastest Friday after the two practice sessions for this weekend’s SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge Touring Car Championship Round Eight race, part of the Portland Grand Prix weekend at Portland International Raceway. Matt Richmond, of Mooresville, N.C., and Bob Stretch, of Dallas, Texas, completed the top three.-30-
Driving the No. 97 Sparco/Oakley/Tindol Motorsports Mazda 6, Espenlaub turned a lap of 1:22.589 (85.609 mph) around the 12-turn, 1.964-mile circuit in the cooler morning session. It is the second time this season that Espenlaub has led practice. The last time, the Grand Prix of Cleveland, was a precursor to his first-career Air Force Reserve Pole Position.
“I was pretty excited about coming here,” Espenlaub said of Portland. “The car responds better to this kind of a track layout than it does to some others.
“I told [team owner Chris Tindol] when we left Sears that ‘we’re winning Portland,’ so hopefully I can hold true to that.”
Coming off of a top-five finish two weeks ago at Infineon Raceway, Matt Richmond carried his momentum to Portland in the No. 37 BimmerWorld BMW 325i with a fastest time of 1:22.968 (85.218 mph) in the first session. Stretch turned a fastest time of 1:22.992 (85.193 mph) in his No. 98 Wheels America/P5 Wheels BMW 325Ci during the first session, good enough for third on the day. In the afternoon session, he was second to Espenlaub.
Eric Curran, of S. Deerfield, Mass., was fourth in the No. 45 A-SPEC/RealTime Racing Acura RSX with a lap of 1:23.070 (85.113 mph), followed by No. 48 Air Force Reserve Ford Focus of Chip Herr, with a 1:23.325 (84.853 mph).
Qualifying for Saturday afternoon’s Round Eight race is set for 9:45 a.m. (PDT). Live timing and scoring can be viewed at www.world-challenge.com.
Saturday’s race will be broadcast on SPEED Channel Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m. (EDT), 12 p.m. local.
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