LEXINGTON, Ohio (May 22, 2005) – RealTime Racing’s Pierre Kleinubing, of Coconut Creek, Fla., showed Sunday morning at the SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge Touring Car Presented by Trenton Forging Quality Formed Solutions race that earning a victory is sometimes just a matter of being in the right place at the right time.-30-
Kleinubing, in the No. 43 A-SPEC/RealTime Racing Acura TSX, dodged first-lap mayhem at Turn One that affected nearly a quarter of the SPEED Touring Car field and then slid past a battle between his teammate Peter Cunningham and Bob Stretch to take the lead on Lap 21 and eventually win the 25-lap, 56.45-mile race at the 2.258-mile Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course with an average speed of 71.812 mph.
After a thwarted pass attempt by Cunningham on then-leader Stretch in the esses that sent Cunningham’s No. 42 A-SPEC/RealTime Racing Acura TSX off course, Stretch went wide at turn 11 to allow Kleinubing past. Stretch went on to finish second in his No. 98 Wheels America BMW 325i behind Kleinubing. Cunningham rebounded to finish third, and Jeff Altenburg, who tightly followed Cunningham off-course, finished fourth in the No. 72 Tri-Point Motorsports Mazda 6.
At the end, Kleinubing said that the race’s happenings didn’t surprise him at all.
“SPEED Touring Car races are unpredictable,” Kleinubing said smiling. “That’s why we race. I was just watching to see what would happen with the others, and see if I could make a bid for the front someplace. I didn’t think I was going to be able to win, but I didn’t think I was going to be worse than third either.”
Stretch took the point from his second starting position at the standing start. Air Force Reserve Pole winner Randy Pobst jumped before the lights went out, and despite re-setting his Mazdaspeed/Tri-Point Motorsports Mazda 6, fell back and drew a stop and go penalty for the move. As the field exited turn one behind Stretch, a SPEED Touring Car version of “the big one” occurred with some 13 cars spinning and hitting one another. The incident was triggered by side-to-side contact between sixth and ninth-starting Dino Crescentini and Chip Herr, and eliminated five cars instantly, including Michael Flynn, Hugh Stewart and Ryan Pilla. While the incident required five laps to clean up, no drivers were injured.
Stretch led at the ensuing restart and appeared to be in command until the trio of Cunningham, Kleinubing and Altenburg caught him around lap 17
“I should have saved my tires better than I did, especially at the beginning,” Stretch said. “I was trying to save them at the beginning and trying to maintain a gap, which, of course, is a difficult balance.
“Of all the tracks we’ve run at, I’ve only run twice, I think, at this track. And I had never run a race distance here before. I was prepared for what happened, but I kind of knew these tires might go off with our setup and I may have to really battle the car.”
Cunningham said he thought he had a shot at the lead when he attempted his move on Stretch, setting him up at the end of the back straight before an outside attempt over the top of the esses, but when it was over, all he had to show for his efforts was some foliage under the hood and a third-place spot on the podium.
“I thought I had an honest bid to stick it in there,” Cunningham said. “But I ended up sucking a little rhubarb through the radiator. In the meantime, Pierre snuck through. But fortunately for me, Altenburg did a sympathy drive off behind me and I was able to stay in front of him.”
Had Pobst not jumped the start, it appeared he would have been in the mix for the win as he won the UrbanRacer.com Hot Lap of the Race with a 1:34.706 (85.832 mph) on Lap 10. Several other similar laps pushed Pobst to an eighth-place finish after he dropped to last after serving his penalty.
Mark German won both the B&M Holeshot Award and Sunoco Hard Charger Award in the No. 7 Green Filter USA/Ground Control Mazda 626 – the Holeshot Award for passing 15 cars on opening lap and the Hard Charger for advancing 14 total positions to finish 17th after starting 30th.
Cunningham continues to lead the SPEED Touring Car Drivers’ Point Championship, pushing his total to 109. Kleinubing, who has earned three podiums in a row, is tied with Altenburg for second with 96 points. Eric Curran is the third RealTime driver in the top four with 78 points-- four ahead of Altenburg’s Tri-Point Motorsports teammate Pobst, who has 74.
With three wins in four events this season, Acura leads the SPEED World Challenge Manufacturers’ Championship Presented by Racer Magazine with 34 points. Mazda is ten points behind with 24, followed by BMW (17), Audi (2) and Ford (1).
The SPEED World Challenge Touring Car race, Presented by Trenton Forging Quality Formed Solutions, will be televised on SPEED Channel Saturday, May 28, at 3 p.m. (EDT).
Round Five of the SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge is set for June 24-26, part of the Champ Car Grand Prix of Cleveland.
For more information about SPEED World Challenge or this event, including full results, visit www.world-challenge.com.
To visit the Mid-Ohio event homepage, use this link: http://www.world-challenge.com/2005/events/moh/