Auberlen, Baas Quickest in Fridays Grand-Am KONI Challenge Series Practice at Miller Motorsports Park
Turner Motorsport hopes strong practice session carries over into second straight Miller victory
TOOELE, Utah (Sept. 19, 2008) - Turner Motorsport hasn't won a race in nearly a year, but Bill Auberlen and Matthew Alhadeff hope that changes Sunday at Miller Motorsport Park. In the meantime, they can savor a strong practice time Friday at the 4.486-mile, 24-turn track, after Auberlen set the fastest pace in the second of two Grand-Am KONI Challenge Series Grand Sport (GS) practice sessions.
Auberlen cut off nearly two-and-a-half seconds from the team's morning practice session, clocking in at 3:08.956 (85.468 mph) in the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M3. GS and Street Tuner (ST) teams will qualify at 8 a.m. Saturday, with their two-and-a-half hour race at 11:20 a.m. Sunday.
Auberlen wasn't part of the winning team last season at Miller, but Alhadeff and Hand were. The trio did drive together at Virginia International Raceway, the team's last victory. Turner Motorsport campaigns two cars, with the No. 97 Turner Motorsport BMW M3, driven by Bryan Ortiz and Don Salama, ninth overall.
Kris Wilson, who won the pole for the most recent race, at New Jersey Motorsports Park, was second with a time of 3:09.021 (85.438 mph). Wilson drives the No. 26 C-MAX/Unitech Racing Porsche 997 with David Riddle and David Russell. The trio's No. 25 C-MAX/Unitech Racing Porsche 997 was also third on the charts at 3:09.945 (85.023 mph).
Defending series champions Jep Thornton and Jeff Segal were fourth quickest at 3:10.218 (84.900 mph) in the No. 09 Automatic Racing Imported Car Store/Land Air BMW M3, and the two look for better fortunes at the track after mechanical problems last season. Thornton and Segal are currently six points out of the point lead. Rounding out the top five were Iowa Speedway winners Andy Lally and Scott Schroeder, who took the No. 41 TRG Carlsen's Porsche Porsche 997 to a fastest time of 3:10.353 (84.840 mph).
Sixth was Craig Stanton, who set a time of 3:10.425 (84.808 mph) in the No. 83 BGB Motorsports Weeden's Consultants Porsche 997. Stanton is five points out of the lead.
Several championship leaders were further back in the pack. Championship leaders Bret Seafuse and James Gue were 15th (3:11.545; 84.312 mph) in the No. 37 JBS Motorsports Trumansburg Shursave Ford Mustang GT, while Joe Foster and Scott Maxwell were 19th (3:11.899; 84.157 mph) in the No. 55 Hyper Sport Ford Mustang GT.
APR Motorsport swept the top two positions for the ST class, with Ian Baas gathering a top time of 3:15.352 (82.669 mph) in the No. 171 APR Motorsport APR/BBS Volkswagen GTI he shares with Dion von Moltke. Meanwhile, Randy Pobst was second in the No. 181 APR Motorsport APR/BBS Volkswagen GTI with a time of 3:15.637 (82.549 mph). Pobst is teamed with Mark White.
Eric Curran earned the third quickest time in ST with a time of 3:15.843 (82.461 mph) in the No. 01 Georgian Bay Motorsports Chevrolet Cobalt SS. Curran returns to the team with ST point leader Jamie Holtom (217-213) after co-leading the standings with Holtom earlier in the season. Their teammate, No. 00 Georgian Bay Motorsports Chevrolet Cobalt SS driver Kirk Spencer, was fourth quickest at 3:16.383 (82.235 mph). He shares the No. 00 with Ashley McCalmont.
Fifth was Robert Boyer, driving the No. 53 Predator Auto Sport Chevrolet Cobalt SS with Matt Pritiko. Boyer's time was 3:16.709 (82.099 mph).
Kuno Wittmer, third in points, was 10th (3:17.787; 81.651 mph) in the No. 32 i-MOTO Racing Cybernation/Alpinestar Acura TSX he shares with Peter Cunningham. Fourth in points, Bob Beede, was 13th (3:18.465; 81.373 mph) in the No. 29 Bill Fenton Motorsports Honda Certified Used Cars/Southern Auto Auction Honda Civic Si he shares with Matt Plumb. Two spots behind in 15th were Kristian Skavnes (3:18.710; 81.272 mph), second in points, and Andrew Aquilante in the No. 111 ICY/Phoenix Racing Subaru Legacy.
POST-PRACTICE DRIVER QUOTES
Bill Auberlen (No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M3): "Utah and New Jersey - I love them both - and we've been quick at both. The BMWs tend to run well here. Every time we start talking about Utah and the BMW M3, I get excited, and know we're going to run well here. We just need a little luck to get to victory lane. Everything looks good. Turner Motorsport is about as good as it gets. The team has produced championship winning cars, and it's nice to go to the track and know you have a team that gives you just about a perfect car."
Kris Wilson (No. 25 C-MAX/Unitech Racing Porsche 997): "Awesome team, awesome co-driver, mediocre driver equals decent results. We've made a lot of progress over the last few weeks with these cars, and we've been fast. Hopefully we can keep the momentum up and be quick again in qualifying with both cars."
Ian Baas (No. 171 APR Motorsport Volkswagen GTI): "I have been looking forward to racing here at Miller as I figured the track would really suit our GTI's. Our No. 171 car has been fantastic, in P1 in the most recent practice, and never really out of the top four. The crew has been on a high all weekend and think I can speak for Dion as well in saying we really hope to reward our crew and sponsors with a long awaited podium."
Mark White (No. 181 APR Motorsport Volkswagen GTI): "I've always had great races at Miller and I hope my luck continues. Both APR GTi's have been in the top five in every practice session so far this weekend and we are pretty happy with our speed. We're still sorting some minor issues but I am confident our great crew will give Randy and I a car capable of winning the race. All we need now is a bit of luck from the racing Gods!"