PORTLAND, Ore. (July 30, 2005) – It was only a few SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge Touring Car rounds back that the championship outlook for Randy Pobst seemed pretty bleak. -30-
Pobst, of Gainesville, Ga., sprinted out from the Air Force Reserve pole position in his No. 73 Mazdaspeed/Tri-Point Motorsport Mazda 6 and never relinquished his lead at Portland International Raceway, going flag-to-flag during the SPEED Touring Car portion of the Portland Grand Prix to earn his second win in 2005 and move into second in the SPEED Touring Car Drivers’ Championship. RealTime Racing’s Eric Curran, of South Deerfield, Mass., finished a career-high second 1.797 seconds back in the No. 45 A-SPEC/RealTime Racing Acura RSX, followed by “Mad Dog” Matt Richmond, of Mooresville, N.C., who finished a career-best third in the No. 37 BimmerWorld BMW 325i.
While Richmond turned the UrbanRacer.com Hot Lap of the Race with a 1:23:890 (84.282 mph), it was Pobst who was most consistent, averaging 83.643 mph over the race’s 60.884 miles, staying in front by about a second for most of the race’s 31 laps and leaving Curran and Richmond to battle each other for second.
“It was a specific strategy that we chose,” said Pobst, whose win in Portland was the 11th SPEED World Challenge victory of his career. “Portland is such a unique track in that it changes so much from morning conditions to hot afternoon conditions.
“We knew that the grip on the track would be way down in the race, and if you look at the lap times, they were way slower [than qualifying]. The way things turned out, I’m really pleased with Tri-Point’s strategy for the Mazda. It worked!”
Pobst also noted the fresh faces on the podium, giving credit to SPEED Touring Car’s competitiveness.
“It’s interesting to see these semi-new guys on the podium because it shows how broad the spectrum is and how deep the field is in SPEED World Challenge Touring Car,” Pobst said. “Matt was right there. It was one of the best performances I’ve seen from him.”
Curran passed Richmond on the race’s fourth lap and stayed there for the rest of the way. Afterward, he said he never could find an opportunity to catch up with Pobst, but finishing second still made for a good weekend.
“The day went well for us,” Curran said. “I knew we had a pretty strong car at the beginning of the weekend. The RealTime RSX has just been phenomenal.
“The team has been working hard to get the setup right on the car, and as far as this race goes, I just got off to a good start. I climbed right up and got behind Matt. He happened to miss a shift or something on the front straight and I got by him there. I closed up on Randy a little bit and ran a pretty good pace, but didn’t really have anything to close the gap on him.”
Known throughout SPEED World Challenge for his humor, Richmond didn’t disappoint post-race press conference attendees as he shared his thoughts on his first podium finish.
“It’s alright. Nah, just kidding, it’s awesome,” Richmond said of his finish. “The whole team is coming together finally. We had been nibbling at it every weekend, but just didn’t have the success at the end of the weekend.
“Obviously, there are two more positions to go, but we did it. At the end of the day, we got to smell like champagne and we’re ready to go again.”
Bob Stretch, of Dallas, Texas, finished fourth in the No. 98 Wheels America/B5Wheels BMW 325i, and Curran’s RealTime teammate Brandon Davis, of Huntington Beach, Calif., all but wrapped up The Winning Team Racing Apparel SPEED Touring Car Rookie of the Year honors by turning in perhaps his best effort of the season, finishing a career-high fifth in the No. 44 A-SPEC/RealTime Racing Acura TSX.
Davis and Stretch, along with several others, improved their positions on the final turn of the final lap as Jeff Altenburg, of Ellicott City, Md., purposely slowed on the front straight just prior to the checkered flag, dropping from his then-fourth place position and finishing 12th. The move allows Altenburg to remove the maximum amount of REWARDS weight (60 lbs.) from his Tri-Point Mazda.
For his actions, Altenburg was penalized $2500 by SCCA Pro Racing officials for three infractions of the SCCA Pro Racing Regulations, based on unsportsmanlike conduct. Tri-Point has expressed its intent to appeal the decision.
Rookie Rick Snyder, of Arvada, Colo., won the first award of his SPEED World Challenge career by taking the B&M Holeshot Award for advancing seven positions on the opening lap from the 20th spot.
Richmond’s BimmerWorld teammate Seth Thomas, of Cumming, Ga., won his third-consecutive Sunoco Hard Charger Award of the year for advancing seven positions to finish seventh after starting 14th.
Peter Cunningham, of West Bend, Wis., finished eighth to earn his eighth top-ten of 2005 and maintain his lead in the SPEED Touring Car Drivers’ point race. His 192 points lead Pobst’s 182, followed by RealTime pilot Pierre Kleinubing’s 178, Curran’s 164 and Altenburg’s 151.
Thanks to Pobst’s win, Mazda sliced a few more points from Acura’s lead in the SCCA Pro Racing SPEED Touring Car Manufacturers’ Championship Presented By RACER Magazine. Acura now leads Mazda 56-54, followed by BMW’s 43.
For more information, about Round Eight from Portland International Raceway, or for Round Nine’s Centrix Financial Grand Prix of Denver, visit www.world-challenge.com.
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