SONOMA, Calif. (June 24, 2006) – Pierre Kleinubing, of Coconut Creek, Fla., started from the pole and led every lap of today’s SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge Touring Car Championship Round Four race, part of the Dodge/Save Mart 350 weekend at Infineon Raceway. Teammate Peter Cunningham, of Grafton, Wis., and Jeff Altenburg, of Ellicott City, Md., completed the top three.
After taking the pole position earlier in the day in his No. 42 Acura Certified Pre-Owned/RealTime Racing Acura TSX by more than eight-tenths of a second, Kleinubing got away clean on the standing start and never looked back to take his 25th-career win, becoming the fourth different winner and fourth different make of car to win in 2006. He averaged 75.853 mph, winning by 1.857 seconds. On lap two, Kleinubing turned the fastest lap of the race, with a time of 1:24.294 (84.988 mph).
“I was surprised at the beginning, how aggressive they were behind me,” Kleinubing said. “That gave me a chance to open up a little bit of a gap. But then, the yellow came out and I was like ‘oh, here we go.’ With Peter behind me, I know how fast he is. But the Mazdas were giving him trouble. It was just enough for me to open up a little gap and maintain.
“It was uneventful for me, but I was driving as hard as I could the entire time. Couldn’t relax at any point.”
While Kleinubing was never seriously challenged for the point, Cunningham had to first hold off Justin Hall’s No. 12 DIG Motorsports/JustRacing.com BMW 325Ci and then Altenburg’s No. 72 Mazdaspeed/Tri-Point Motorsports Mazda 6. Hall bolted from his seventh starting spot to third by turn one, earning the B&M Shifters Holeshot award. Once on Cunningham’s bumper, he pestered the No. 1 Acura Certified Pre-Owned/RealTime Racing Acura TSX for the first five laps.
However, entering turn 4a on lap six, the BMW’s engine expired in spectacular fashion, putting him into a wild spin and forcing fourth-place Randy Pobst to make an evasive maneuver, allowing Altenburg through. Altenburg made a late charge on Cunningham as the duo exited turn 11 on the penultimate lap. Altenburg’s blue Mazda left its mark on the door of the Acura, and after both cars recovered to drag race up to turn two, Altenburg bobbled under braking and skidded over the curb.
“At the end there, Jeff was coming and he was putting the pressure on pretty good,” Cunningham said. “But in the end, he didn’t quite have enough to get by the Acura.
“On the start and the subsequent restart, Pierre would just inch away. I just never felt like I was going to really mount a charge against him today.”
“I was able to catch PD at the end, and was able to get inside of him on the beginning of the last lap,” Altenburg said. “We had just a little bit of rubbin’, and this being the NASCAR weekend here, that’s okay. I gave him room and didn’t push him into the wall and then I was on the outside of the last turn and he didn’t shove me into the wall. It was good racing. Then, I made a last ditch effort into two and, well, that didn’t work! I’m actually surprised I was able to maintain third and am happy with the finish, considering I started sixth.”
Pobst held on for fourth, his fourth top five finish of the year in the No. 73 Mazdaspeed/Tri-Point Motorsports Mazda 6, followed by Eric Curran’s No. 43 Acura Certified Pre-Owned/RealTime Racing Acura RSX.
Brandon Davis started 20th, but charged back to finish sixth in his No. 20 Acura Certified Pre-Owned/RealTime Racing Acura TSX, earning the Sunoco Hard Charger of the race award.
With the win, Kleinubing extended his point lead in the Drivers’ Championship to 12, 127 to 115 over Pobst. Defending series Champion Cunningham is third, with 106, followed by Chip Herr (90) and Altenburg and Davis, with 74 points apiece.
Acura took the Manufacturers’ Championship Presented by RACER Magazine lead with the win, 30 to 27 over Mazda. Audi and BMW are tied for third, with 11.
Kleinubing’s win made him the fourth different driver to win in 2006, and Acura joined BMW, Mazda and Audi in victory circle.
Saturday’s race will be broadcast on SPEED Saturday, July 8 at 3 p.m. (EDT). The series next travels to Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah, July 13-15.