ELKHART LAKE, Wis. (Aug. 19, 2006) – Chip Herr, of Lititz, Pa., captured his second SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge Touring Car win of the season in his Audi A4 at Road America’s Generac 500 weekend. Charles Espenlaub, of Lutz, Fla., and Robb Holland, of Denver, Colo., completed the top three.-30-
Starting second in his No. 17 International Autos/North Shore Audi/Clear Capital Audi A4, Herr rocketed into the lead off the standing start, utilizing his all-wheel-drive system. Once out front, Herr kept his advantage over polesitter Espenlaub to between one and two seconds for the entire run to take his second career victory in the 17-lap, 68.815-mile race by 1.677 seconds.
“Since I was starting second, it was nice to be able to focus on launching from the lights and not focusing on driving around the guy in front of me,” Herr said. “At Denver, I had a great launch almost to the lead and then a little Touring Car mishap that took me out of the race.
“It was a good race today and I love running with Charles [Espenlaub]. I was watching my mirror the whole time. They kept giving me splits and there was a couple times where under braking he had an advantage and I was able to slowly pick it up. I was watching.
“The fact that Audi is not an actual ‘manufacturer’ for us [with regard to support], it’s really important to run well here because we’re showing that we can drive with a brand new car, develop it and, within one year, win two Touring Car races and basically fight for a podium every race. I think we’re trying to show Audi that we’re here to win and these guys [Holland and Espenlaub] have the support from their factories and that’s great, but we just don’t have that right now.”
Starting from the pole in his No. 97 Sparco/Oakley/Tindol Motorsports Mazda 6, Espenlaub accurately predicted that he would follow the Audi into turn one after the standing start. What he had counted on, though, was being able to keep in Herr’s draft.
“I was hoping we could get close enough to [Herr] to get into a draft and make him use his brakes a little harder, but I was never quite able to close that gap,” Espenlaub said. “A little bit here and there, but then he’d open it right back up. The track conditions changed quite a bit from this morning and I think it kind of favored the all-wheel-drive, and he was quite a bit quicker than me in a some places and I could just not close the gap.”
After starting fifth in his No. 67 3R-Racing Dodge SRT-4, Holland battled all race long with the Mazda of Randy Pobst and the Acura of Eric Curran for fourth. When Brian Smith’s Woodhouse Auto Family/Kicker Dodge SRT4 developed a flat tire and retired to the pit lane from third place, Holland inherited the spot and held Pobst at bay to record his first, and the car model’s first, podium finish.
“It feels great,” Holland, who earned Piloti Rookie of the Race for his effort, said. “It was a fantastic race. I had Randy [Pobst] behind me the whole entire time and having a guy like Randy Pobst behind you for the whole entire 50 minutes, I had my hands full. It feels fantastic to be here, but I’ll be back, in Chip’s seat.”
Pobst, of Gainesville, Ga., dogged Holland with his No. 73 Mazdaspeed/Tri-Point Motorsports Mazda 6, but couldn’t get close enough in the draft to make his move, settling for fourth. Eric Curran, of E. Hampton, Mass., was fifth in his No. 43 Acura Certified Pre-Owned/RealTime Racing Acura RSX.
Jeff Altenburg (Mazda 6) emerged from a race-long battle with defending race winner Peter Cunningham (Acura TSX) to finish sixth. Point leader Pierre Kleinubing (Acura TSX) finished one spot behind Cunningham, in eighth, after starting 11th. Christian Miller finished a career-best ninth in his Volkswagen Jetta and last week’s Denver winner, Brandon Davis, was 10th in his Acura TSX.
Jon Prall, of Los Gatos, Calif., earned the Sunoco Hard Charger in his No. 11 DIG Motorsports/JustRacing.com BMW 325Ci for advancing from 23rd starting position to finish 14th.
Charles Putman, of Mills, Wyo., captured the B&M Shifters Holeshot Award for advancing four spots on the opening lap of the race.
Kleinubing, who came into the weekend with a 28-point lead, saw that advantage cut to 21 over Pobst (213-192). Cunningham maintained third position, with 158, but Herr jumped from seventh to fourth, with 146. Davis is now fifth, with 145.
In the SPEED Touring Car Manufacturers’ Championship Presented by RACER Magazine, Acura saw its 13-point lead cut to seven, 52 to 45. Audi made up ground with its win, now with 21, followed by BMW (11) and Dodge scored its first points, with five.
The series next travels north of the border to Mosport International Raceway Labor Day weekend, Sept. 1-3.
Today’s race was shown live on SPEED Channel and will be rebroadcast Wednesday, Aug. 23 at 1 p.m. (EDT).
For more information, visit www.world-challenge.com.