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Grand Am GT - Segal's Second-Place At Laguna Seca Moves Him Back Into Championship Chase

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MONTEREY, July 10, 2011: Reigning GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series GT Champions Jeff Segal, teammate Emil Assentato and the No. 69 FXDD/SpeedSource Mazda RX-8 GT crew had one of their best total-team performances of the 2011 season Saturday at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca with a second-place finish in the Continental Tire Festival of Speed Powered by Mazda.

After a season-best sixth-place qualifying effort on Friday, Assentato cracked the top five during his race-opening driving stint before handing the No. 69 FXDD Mazda over to Segal at the race’s 45-minute mark.

“Coming in I thought we could do really well,” Segal said. “Then Emil threw down in qualifying, and that was super impressive, that was our fastest lap in the car outright up to that point in the weekend, so that was great. When Emil drives well, that certainly helps the result, and he drove really well.”

Segal was also up to speed at Mazda Raceway this weekend, both on and off the track.

“I have been really enthusiastic all weekend,” Segal said. “I have kind of been jumping around like a little kid since the first lap in practice because I like this track. Our car around this track has always been great. We have been competitive, that’s been a little bit of a departure, and we have been competitive throughout the weekend, not just in one session, not just in some adverse weather. We have been right there.”

Segal was also right in the race’s top-three battle soon after he took the wheel of the No. 69 FXDD Mazda. He quickly moved into fourth, then third and secured second around the time of a pair of back-to-back caution periods, split by just one lap, in the final 30 minutes of the race. Despite the run to the front, Segal still needed a little more to catch the race-winning No. 59 Brumos Porsche GT3 of Leh Keen and Andrew Davis.

“That all was great, the car was really strong, but unfortunately at the end it was just not quite enough,” Segal said. “I made a little mistake on a restart, getting in the wrong gear, that Leh get a gap, but I couldn’t get any in roads on him. Every time I would chip away at him he would sort of drop the hammer and pick up a few more tenths.”

The runner-up result was Segal’s second of the year after co-driving to second this past March in the Grand Prix of Miami. The top-three podium finish was also the second in the past three races for Segal and the No. 69 team after finishing third at the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen last month.

“It’s a good result for Mazda, at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, but I still think maybe we have got a little more digging to do, maybe a little more help before we are really contenders.”