Miller Race: Turner Takes Win With Pass on Final Restart; Curran and Holtom Score ST Win
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Auberlen passes Wilson in Turn 1 on the race's final restart for team's first 2008 victory
TOOELE, Utah (Sept. 21, 2008) - Bill Auberlen dived underneath Kris Wilson in Turn 1 on Lap 40 of Sunday's 44-lap Grand-Am KONI Challenge Series race and held on to give himself, co-driver Matthew Alhadeff and the Turner Motorsport its second straight Grand Sport (GS) victory at Miller Motorsports Park and the team's first victory of 2008.
Auberlen bunched up behind Wilson during the second and final caution period - brought out when Steve Kent and the No. 138 stopped on course after losing a wheel - then on the restart went right then left and past Wilson, who led the race in two different cars for 15 laps. From there, Auberlen pulled away, and was benefited even more when Wilson and Charles Espenlaub - battling for second - made heavy contact. Espenlaub's No. 91 Automatic Racing BMW M3 fell to the wayside, while Wilson's No. 26 C-MAX/Unitech Racing Porsche 997 soldiered on slowly until the checkered flag flew.
With Spencer Pumpelly and Billy Johnson chasing for second, Auberlen easily drove away, winning by 4.009 seconds. Auberlen had run third as late as Lap 36, before leader Andy Lally pulled off the track with a blown engine.
But it wasn't a completely trouble-free race for the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M3 of Auberlen and Alhadeff. While fighting for fourth, Alhadeff and incoming point co-leader Bret Seafuse in the No. 37 JBS Motorsports Trumansburg Shursave Ford Mustang GT nearly made contact. Seafuse spun off, with Alhadeff stayed out of trouble and continued on. After restarting 26th, Seafuse moved back through the field to a best of fourth before pitting, and he and co-driver James Gue finished sixth, losing the point lead. Meanwhile, Alhadeff - who qualified eighth - remained in the top five until he pitted.
Despite pitting at the completion of the race's pace lap due to a shredded engine belt, Duncan Ende moved into the top 10 during his stint, and co-driver Pumpelly, a former GS race winner at Miller, moved to second at the checkered flag in the No. 39 TRG Carlsen Porsche/The DigiTrust Group Porsche 997. The team fixed the problem and Ende was in danger of falling down a lap before the first of two full course cautions came out.
Third-place finisher Johnson earned his third straight podium finish and co-driver Ray Mason his second podium in three races in the No. 52 Rehagen Racing Columbus Truck & Equipment Ford Mustang GT, as Mustangs took the next five positions. Johnson also moved to within 19 points of the lead. Joe Foster and Scott Maxwell took over the point lead in the No. 55 Hyper Sport Ford Mustang GT with a fourth-place finish, one spot ahead of Mike Canney and Hugh Plumb in the No. 60 Rehagen Racing Sunset Hills Vineyard Ford Mustang GT.
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