JONSSON CAPTURES FIRST CAREER SCCA SPEED TOURING CAR WIN AT INFINEON
SONOMA, Calif. (July 18, 2004) – Sweden’s Nic Jonsson captured his first-career SCCA SPEED World Challenge Touring Car victory at Infineon Raceway, as part of the Infineon Grand Prix of Sonoma. Teammates Bill Auberlen, of Rolling Hills Estates, Calif., and Justin Marks, of San Francisco, completed the top three.
Starting on the outside of row one driving the No. 27 Lectric Air/Tecmark Corporation BMW 325i, Jonsson grabbed the lead from then polesitter Bob Stretch, of Dallas, coming out of turn nine on lap three, as Stretch fell to second. Jonsson then spent the next 20 laps, of the 23-lap race, fending off both Auberlen and Marks who were looking for opportunities to pass Jonsson. But, Jonsson proved to be too strong, narrowly beating Auberlen by 0.316-second on the 11-turn, 2.53-mile circuit.
“I’m so happy and relieved to get this monkey off my back,” Jonsson said. “We’ve been close so many times. I can’t thank the Techmark Racing guys enough.
“I didn’t look in my mirrors [at Auberlen] that much. He was a little stronger than me in the carousel, but off the carousel, I was stronger. I was much stronger through one and two. So I had to make sure I maintained the same distance through two every time and I knew there was no way he could catch me.”
Auberlen, who is the defending series Champion and current point leader, started third and was battling with Stretch for second place when Auberlen and Stretch made contact in turn four on lap four. As a result, Stretch was forced off the track and fell to 10th place, while Auberlen stayed in third place as Marks slipped into second. Three laps later, a caution came out when Paul Lambert, of Sonoma, Calif., hit the tire wall in turn 10, due to oil on the track. This set off a chain reaction of cars collected in the same location which included Brandon Davis, Matt Richmond and Nick Woodhouse. All drivers emerged uninjured, but the lengthy cleanup necessitated four caution laps.
As the race went green on lap 11, Auberlen got a good run on Marks and took over second place. Auberlen then began the process of running down Jonsson, but his No. 1 Turner Motorsport/H&R Springs BMW 325i didn’t have enough to pull off the pass in turn 11 on the last lap.
“Could I have made the pass [on Jonsson]? I don’t know,” Auberlen, who carried 70 lbs. more series REWARDS weight than Jonsson in the race. “If we were at even weight, could I have made the pass? Maybe. Nic didn’t make a mistake, and it’s hard to capitalize when somebody doesn’t make one, little mistake. That’s all I was looking for.
Auberlen’s second place finish was his fourth podium finish of 2004, which also includes three wins.
Driving the No. 2 Turner Motorsport/H&R Springs BMW 325i, Marks started fifth on the grid and briefly benefited when Auberlen and Stretch got together moving to second, but wasn’t able to hold off his teammate on the restart. Marks’ third place finish equals his career-best.
“I thought I was running hard—about 95 percent, for most of the race,” Marks said. “So, with about five laps to go, I thought, ‘Okay, well now I’m going to go for it,’ and I drove off the track about three times. But, it was a good run and we’ll see how we can do next weekend [in Portland].”
Dino Crescentini, of Malibu, Calif., brought his No. 3 Turner Motorsport/H&R Springs BMW 325i home in fourth, while James Sofronas, of Newport Beach, Calif., finished fifth. Confirming beliefs that BMWs would be dominant at Infineon Raceway, the marque swept the top six positions.
Auberlen leads the SPEED Touring Car Drivers’ Championship with 154 points, followed by Jonsson (139), Matt Plumb (115), Marks (110) and Sofronas (101).
BMW leads the SPEED Touring Manufacturers’ Championship Presented by Racer Magazine with 43 points, followed by Acura (21), Nissan (15) and Mazda (five).
Round Six of the SCCA SPEED Touring Car Champion heads to Portland International Raceway July 23-25, as part of the American Le Mans Grand Prix of Portland.
For more information, visit www.world-challenge.com.
Link to story: http://www.scca.com/News/News.asp?Ref=92