Thursday, August 9, 2012
Segal Returns to The Glen with Biggest Points Lead of the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Season
by Adam Saal, AIM Autosport
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. -- Jeff Segal, co-driver Emil Assentato and AIM Autosport Team FXDD, return to Watkins Glen International this weekend for Saturday’s Continental Tire 200 presented by Dunn Tire with the biggest championship points lead the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series has seen all season.
A two-hour sprint that is Round 10 of 13 races on the 2012 GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series 2012 schedule, the Continental Tire 200 can be seen live on SPEED this Saturday, August 11, at 6 p.m. EDT/3 p.m. PDT.
In addition to holding a season-high 26 point advantage in the GRAND-AM GT standings, Segal, Assentato and the first-year No. 69 AIM Autosport Team FXDD Ferrari 458 Italia Grand Am effort also lead the Rolex Series overall in race wins (3) and top-five finishes (8). A fifth-place finish one race ago in the inaugural Brickyard Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway increased Segal’s points lead and was the eighth-straight top-five result of the season in the year’s first nine races.
“It was definitely nice to leave Indianapolis with a bit of extra cushion on our points lead, but the truth is that it isn't nearly enough to change our strategy,” Segal said. “I would always rather be in the lead and be in control in this situation, but with four races remaining, anything can still happen and we aren't going to back off or change our strategy one bit. We're heading to Watkins Glen looking for a win, plain and simple.”
A fourth 2012 victory on The Glen’s NASCAR “short course” – a race Segal won in 2009 – is easier said than done in light of some apparent and improved performance from the competition.
“The landscape of the GT class seems like it has changed recently,” Segal said. “I think that the recent rules changes to the Porsche have really shaken things up based on what we saw at Indianapolis. When we were running on the full course for the Six Hours of The Glen, the Camaro and BMW seemed to have things pretty well covered in terms of speed. I think the reality is that there are a lot of really strong cars in this class, and I expect that this is anyone's race. I think that our Ferrari's top speed deficit that we saw clearly at Indianapolis might make things difficult for us, but I'm not giving up the race just quite yet.”
The GRAND-AM Rolex Series first visited the legendary Watkins Glen facility early last month for the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen, when Segal and his team finished third. That race is run on the traditional 3.4-mile Grand Prix circuit but this weekend’s event takes place on the 2.45-mile NASCAR “short course” layout. Segal has been equally successful on both configurations and joined Assentato, Nick Longhi and Team FXDD in their first GRAND-AM Rolex Series victory together in the 2008 Sahlen’s Six Hours. A second victory, however, on the “short course” to go with his 2009 triumph is the next order of business for Segal and his teammates.
“Every year this race track always seems to breed incredibly close, fierce, nonstop action,” Segal said. “It’s an ultra-high-speed bullring, and I expect that this year's race will be as unpredictable as ever. The fact that this is a shorter two-hour format probably adds to the mayhem, as you can't really afford to bide your time in this race. When you see an opportunity you really need to go for it, because you won't get many more chances. I expect that this will be a race you wouldn't want to miss.”
Segal’s series-leading three 2012 race wins came at Homestead-Miami Speedway, New Jersey Motorsports Park and Road America.
Segal and Assentato come to The Glen with 276 points to top the driver standings while the No. 69 AIM Autosport Team FXDD Ferrari 458 Italia Grand Am leads the team championship with the same points total. Nearest challenger Robin Liddell and the No. 57 Camaro team have 250 points.
A two-day event, the Continental Tire 200 at The Glen starts Friday with the only practice sessions of the race weekend and qualifying. Saturday’s only Rolex Series on-track activity is the featured two-hour Continental Tire 200 that starts at 6 p.m. local time.
Follow Jeff Segal at www.jeffreysegal.com and at the Jeff Segal Fan Page on Facebook.