The Auto Channel
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
Official Website of the New Car Buyer

Grand Am GT - Segal And Assentato Bring Real Significant Momentum To Road America

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

ELKHART LAKE, Jun. 21, 2012: Jeff Segal will be bringing a season-high GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series GT Championship points lead to a race for the third-consecutive time this season when he joins co-driver Emil Assentato in the No. 69 AIM Autosport Team FXDD Ferrari 458 Italia Grand Am for the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series 250 Driven by VISIT FLORIDA at the legendary Road America road course, June 21 - 23. The weekend’s featured two-hour sprint race can be seen live on SPEED this Saturday, June 23, at Noon EDT/9 a.m. PDT.

Segal and Assentato also have a GT-division leading two race wins this season at Miami and New Jersey which are part of a run of four podium finishes in the year’s first six races. The most recent victory lane appearance came two weeks ago at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course where Segal drove the No. 69 Ferrari across the finish line in second place.

The runner-up result was enough to build Segal’s GT-class championship lead for the third straight race and the 11-point edge on the competition is his first double-digit points lead of the season. Segal and Assentato, the 2010 GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series GT champions, come to Road America with 185 points while nearest challenger Robin Liddell has 174 points. The No. 69 AIM Autosport Team FXDD Ferrari 458 Italia Grand Am also leads the team championship standings with the same points total and margin.

“Things are definitely going well for us, but we're not going to get ahead of ourselves so early in the year,” Segal said. “We have a lot of racing left to do this season, and our goal is to continue executing in these races the same way we have over the first half of the year. There are a few really strong cars that are nipping at our heels in the standings, and they're all looking for us to slip up to close the gap. We've seen wins by five manufacturers in six races so far, which shows just how competitive the GT class is these days. Right now I think that consistency is the name of the game, and we know how to play that well.”

Saturday’s Road America race is the third of four races in June and kicks off the second back-to-back weekend stretch of the month. Mid-Ohio followed the Detroit Grand Prix on Belle Isle by one week earlier in June while the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen at Watkins Glen International is on the schedule next weekend.

“Hard to say which tracks will suit us more than others, but anytime you've got fast flowing corners and hard braking zones, I would expect our car to shine,” Segal said. “The car is inherently so well balanced that the longer duration corners play to our tire conservation strategy even if some of the other brands are faster in top speed and better in acceleration. With Road America being a two-hour race and Watkins Glen a six-hour race, I expect that the strategy might play an even bigger role than the outright speed of the cars. Anytime we deviate from the standard two-hour-and-45-minute races, the teams really have to be on their toes.”

Road America is the first of three co-headliner events the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series has with NASCAR this year.

“Racing in conjunction with NASCAR means that the event will be huge on and off the track, and that's in addition to the traditionally strong crowd that Road America seems to pull in,” Segal said. “Fans have the opportunity to see a wide variety of race cars on track and the weekend will really have a buzz to it. I enjoy racing with these other series because we're putting the Rolex Series races in front of so many new faces, and I love seeing new fan's reactions as they experience the Rolex Series paddock up close during the autograph sessions and Fan Walk. For us, interacting with the fans up close is what it’s all about. More people means a bit of difficulty for the team moving around the paddock during the weekend, but it’s well worth it.”

Segal and his teammates also finished second in March’s race at Barber Motorsports Park and fourth earlier this month in Detroit. The team has finished each of the year’s first six races and even their lowest result of the year was a respectable eighth-place showing in their very first race with the new Ferrari at the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona.

“I'm excited to be back at Road America and definitely looking to have a better race than we had last year,” Segal said. “Last year was my first time racing at Road America, and while we struggled with setup issues all weekend, I feel more comfortable coming back this year with a bit more experience. It still isn't one of the tracks that feels like home to me, but a good result this weekend would probably help me feel even more comfortable here!”