Kleinubing Fourth at Monterey
-Absent Plumb Finishes Third in Title Chase -
October 17, 2004 – Monterey, California
Three-time SPEED World Challenge Touring Car champion Pierre Kleinubing led 21 of the 26 laps in today’s season finale race at Laguna Seca, but finished fourth to secure an uncharacteristic seventh place in the yearend Driver’s points.
Kleinubing held a narrow lead over eventual race winner Jeff Altenburg when his RealTime Racing A-SPEC equipped Acura TSX slipped on the sandy and damp racing surface in Turn 11, allowing three cars to get by.
“It was just an error,” Kleinubing said, “and I feel bad for Brian Pillar, my crew chief, and all the RealTime Racing crew who worked so hard to get us on the pole for the race and lead all but a few laps – the laps that counted the most. I know we could have held off Jeff.”
Matt Plumb, the 2003 season Rookie of the Year, kept his third place in the points without being at the race. Instead, he and his wife were at home in Rhode Island, awaiting the birth of their first child.
His seat in RealTime’s second Acura TSX was capably filled by Ken Dobson, an opponent of the RealTime team in previous years, who qualified 15th on his home track and worked his way through the field to finish seventh.
Nick Esayian and team newcomer Chip Herr drove the team’s two Acura RSX cars. Esayian scored a 17th place in his Datamine/Total Trolley-sponsored RSX to finish 18th in the season points. Herr started 17th but a mishap with another car dropped him to 27th at the finish.
In qualifying, Kleinubing roared around the 2.238-mile circuit on the Monterey Peninsula at a record average speed of 81.993mph to take the Air Force Reserve pole position, almost a half-second faster than his nearest competitor.
“The A-SPEC Acura TSX is the first four-door sedan RealTime has raced in World Challenge,” said Pillar, “but the team’s 17 years of experience preparing Hondas and Acuras for racing gave us the knowledge to make this car a winner in its first season. This is one very hot sedan.”
Plumb put the TSX into the winner’s circle at Mid-Ohio, its third race, and again at Mosport. Kleinubing recorded the TSX’s other two wins at Portland and Road Atlanta. Plumb was on the pole at both Mid-Ohio and Portland, and this weekend Kleinubing scored the 26th pole qualifying spot of his exemplary World Challenge series career.
Acura, with only one full-time team in the World Challenge series, finished second to BMW for the Manufacturers Championship.
The RealTime Racing Touring Cars are sponsored by the Acura Division of American Honda, A-SPEC Performance Parts, Red Line Oil, Eibach Springs, BOSCH, Sparco, Hella, Brembo, Hawk Performance, and Acura Genuine Parts.