Jeff Segal Brings Points Lead and Momentum of First 2012 Victory

to New Jersey Motorsports Park with Co-Driver Emil Assentato and AIM Autosport Team FXDD

Segal and Teammates to Debut No. 69 AIM Autosport Team FXDD Ferrari 458 Italia Grand Am At NJMP

Jeff Segal will bring the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series GT class points lead, and the momentum of his first victory of the season with co-driver Emil Assentato and AIM Autosport Team FXDD, to New Jersey Motorsports Park this weekend for the Global Barter 250 presented by presented by Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

Round 4 of 13 races in the 2012 GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series season, the timed 2-3/4-hour sprint on NJMP’s Thunderbolt Raceway can be seen live on SPEED this Sunday, May 13, at 1 p.m. EST/10 a.m. PST.

Driving the new No. 69 AIM Autosport Team FXDD Ferrari 458 Italia Grand Am in just its third race, Segal led his team to victory in a rainy Grand Prix of Miami race at Homestead-Miami Speedway two weeks ago.  It was Segal’s first victory in the GRAND-AM Rolex Series since the spring of 2010 when he and Assentato won back-to-back races at Homestead and Barber Motorsports Park.

“I think everyone on the team was really excited about getting our first win at Homestead, and there's a nice positive energy through the team that I expect will carry through to the next few races,” Segal said. “We've been building this new Ferrari effort since November, and this win was the culmination of a lot of hard work by the entire team over a short period of time.  I think it was important to get this result as a reward for everyone's hard work, but we've got a long way to go and there's still a lot of work to do.  With all of the hunger in our organization, I don't think anyone is satisfied with just one win.  We're all focused on New Jersey and the string of races that follow closely afterwards, looking to keep this momentum going.”

The Miami win came in a wet and wild race, not unlike the 2009 race at NJMP that was run in a torrential down pour.  The conditions were so bad two weeks ago that the race was called early, not too long before Segal pulled off a few key passes that proved to be the winning moves of the race.

“The conditions at Homestead were really difficult from a driving perspective, and certainly we were sitting in the right place at the right time when the race was called due to the weather,” Segal said.  “But if we hadn't executed the race well, we certainly would not have been in the lead, and that speaks to the importance of not flying off the road, not crashing the car, and not losing time in the pits.  The entire team stayed calm even in the miserable conditions, and we kept focused on running a steady race.  I actually had no idea that we were leading until the safety car came out for the last time. I was just focused on running consistent laps and passing as many cars as possible to try and improve my visibility through the spray. Clearly, that strategy proved effective!”

Segal has learned to expect the unexpected when it comes to racing conditions at NJMP.

“The conditions have always been extreme when we race at NJMP, whether it was dust, rain, or unbearable heat, so I'm not sure what to expect for a surprise this year,” Segal said. “Based on how Homestead went for us, I'm not sure I would mind a little bit of rain again!”

Wet or dry, Segal will have the advantage of competing on “home turf” for the second consecutive race. The current Miami resident is a native of the greater Philadelphia area, the nearest major city to NJMP. Segal was born in Philadelphia and grew up in Wynnewood, just west of the city, and attended Friends' Central School.

“New Jersey is definitely another home race for me, and a track where I do enjoy the benefit of some extra seat time in the years since the facility was built,” Segal said. “I've done a lot of testing, instructing, and driving on the circuit in New Jersey, and those extra laps definitely help, even if it just accelerates the process of getting up to speed in the first practice session. The facility has come a long way since we first started coming there with GRAND-AM, and it’s great to see that the area is really cultivating a solid following of fans that seems to grow each year.”

Segal’s most recent visit to NJMP came just a few weeks ago.

“We did have the opportunity to test at NJMP recently, and that certainly helps the team to prepare the car for the race weekend,” Segal said. “We already have a good baseline setup, and now we can jump directly into refining our handling and maybe even experimenting with a few setups that we'll look to evaluate and evolve for later in the season.  Per the GRAND-AM rules I wasn't allowed to drive when we tested at Thunderbolt, but Emil did a lot of laps and gave very good feedback about what the car was doing.”

Segal and Assentato, and the No. 69 AIM Autosport Team FXDD Ferrari 458 Italia Grand Am, have 90 points to lead both the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series GT Driver and Championship standings heading into New Jersey. 

The Global Barter 250 is a full three-day weekend event.  Official practice on Friday will be followed by final practice and qualifying Saturday morning. Race-day Sunday begins with a 20-minute final practice warm-up at 9:10 a.m. before that afternoon’s Global Barter 250 at 1 p.m.

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