WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (June 10, 2007) – Randy Pobst, of Gainesville, Ga., made SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge history by winning his third race of the weekend Sunday, taking Round Five of the SCCA SPEED Touring Car Championship after winning the first half of the series’ doubleheader on Saturday and Sunday morning’s SCCA SPEED GT race at Watkins Glen International, part of the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen Weekend.
Pobst’s feat also set a Watkins Glen International record with three professional race wins on the same weekend.
From the pole position in his No. 73 Mazdaspeed Motorsports Development Mazda 6, Pobst dropped to third after getting a slow launch on the standing start. James Sofronas, of Newport Beach, Calif., got the jump from his third starting spot to lead, with Jeff Altenburg, Pobst’s teammate in second.
For the first 10 laps, Sofronas (No. 29 Global Motorsports Group BMW 325Ci) led a four-car train that included Altenburg, Pobst and Pierre Kleinubing’s No. 1 Acura Certified Pre-Owned/RealTime Racing Acura TSX. Pobst pressured Altenburg, with the point leader running wide at turn 10 on the 12th lap, allowing Pobst by.
In what could prove to be a pivotal moment in the Championship, Altenburg re-entered the track with Kleinubing on the outside going into turn 11. With Altenburg on the apex curb, the two cars touched, with the then third-in-points Kleinubing spinning into the tire wall and out of contention.
Once Pobst was in second, it took only two more laps before Pobst pressured Sofronas into a bobble at turn seven, where the Mazda shot into the lead to take his second-straight SCCA SPEED Touring Car win and third series win of the weekend. Pobst won the 20-lap, 68-mile event by 1.009 seconds, averaging 96.406 mph.
“I was biding my time, waiting for an opportunity, and working with Jeff to see if we could get by James [Sofronas] and stay ahead of [Pierre] Kleinubing, who was right on us,” Pobst said of the early stages of today’s race. “Sofronas started to fade a bit and I started to get some heavy pressure from Pierre behind me. Then, Jeff hit a curb in turn nine and bounced it wide. I went right up under him because I wanted to get out of there. I hooked onto Sofronas and ran with him for a while and saw I had him. I just waited for my opportunity and pressured him. He went into the toe of the boot and he got loose. Then, I drove my Mazda 6 right by him and it was bye-bye after that.”
Sofronas earned a bonus point for leading the most laps of the race and captured his fourth-straight Toyo Tires Cup for drivers not making their living behind the wheel of a race car, but again fell just short, earning his second runner-up finish in the last three races.
“We had a little bit of a push,” Sofronas said of his car in the late stages of the race. “I was just trying to keep my tires under me. I knew where I was strong coming out of the fast sweepers. I was really strong there. So, I thought I could maintain my gap. Then, once I got the push, it induced some understeer and when I got on the throttle it snapped on me and Randy capitalized. He is obviously a good driver and I did all I could to hold him off. Then, I put my head down and tried to hold second place. It was a good finish for Tecmark and GMG. We’re pretty happy for a second place finish today.”
Altenburg recovered from his off course excursion and contact with Kleinubing to finish third in his No. 72 Mazdaspeed Motorsports Development Mazda 6.
“Randy got inside me and I ran a little wide,” Altenburg said of his lap 12 incident. “I felt bad for Pierre because I went off into the grass, because there is only room for one Mazda through that turn. Then, Pierre got a run on me. He hadn’t completed the pass yet. So, we went into the next turn and he just came down a little too low and we made contact. I think if he had stayed out wide, he would’ve completed the pass and we would’ve made it through there. My car could grip in there pretty good, but I guess maybe he [Kleinubing] thought I was going to back out of it [the throttle] or maybe he thought he had the pass done.
“I feel terrible for him. He is a great driver and this is just a bad deal. I feel bad that I was involved in it. But, I don’t feel like I was anything more than a participant.”
Canadian Kuno Wittmer, who ran strong in Saturday’s race before breaking an axle, earned his career-best finish in the No. 44 Acura Certified Pre-Owned/RealTime Acura RSX of fourth. Charles Espenlaub, of Lutz, Fla., completed the top five in his No. 97 Mazdaspeed/Tindol/Oakley/Sparco Mazda 6.
Roberto Santos, of Monterrey, Mexico, made it three Tri-Point Motorsports Mazdas in the top six with his career best finish, earning the honor of Piloti Rookie of the Race in the process.
Payton Wilson, of Chantilly, Va., earned his second-consecutive B&M Shifters Holeshot Award in the No. 6 King RAT Motorsports Dodge SRT-4, advancing eight positions on the opening lap.
Charlie Putman, of Denver, Colo., was presented the Sunoco Hard Charger award for advancing 11 positions in the race.
Pobst was one point shy of a perfect weekend—with Sofronas earning the point for most laps led—but it was enough to eclipse his teammate in the point standings, 172 to 171. Sofronas is now third, with 128 points, followed by Kleinubing (117) and Espenlaub (110).
Mazda strengthened its stranglehold on the SCCA SPEED Touring Car Manufacturers’ Championship Presented by RACER Magazine, with 45 to Acura’s 22, BMW’s 17 and Audi’s 12.
Today’s race will be broadcast June 30 on SPEED. The series next travels to the Grand Prix of Toronto, July 8.
Link to story: http://www.scca.com/News/News.asp?Ref=827