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Grand Am GT - Segal Brings GT Points Lead To Mid-Ohio

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LEXINGTON, June 8, 2012: Jeff Segal returns to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course with his biggest GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series GT points lead of the season – and looking for his third race win of 2012 – with co-driver Emil Assentato and the No. 69 AIM Autosport Team FXDD Ferrari 458 Italia Grand Am for this weekend’s EMCO Gears Classic, June 8 – 9.

The 2-3/4-hour timed EMCO Gears Classic race can be seen live on SPEED this Saturday, June 9, at 4:30 p.m. EDT/1:30 p.m. PDT.

Segal and Assentato scored back-to-back wins at Homestead-Miami Speedway and New Jersey Motorsports Park last month, but escaping last Saturday’s tough street race on Belle Isle in Detroit with a fourth-place finish may have been just as important to this year’s bid for the GT class championship. Segal, Assentato and the AIM Autosport Team FXDD No. 69 Ferrari not only survived a Detroit street-fight race many didn’t, they actually extended their points lead.

“We wanted to play it very conservative in Detroit in terms of not breaking the car that weekend,” Segal said. “To leave there with a fourth-place finish and pull further ahead in our points lead made it a really good weekend.”

The Detroit result was the fourth consecutive top-four GT class finish for Segal and the AIM Autosport Team FXDD Ferrari in 2012’s first five races, a streak that includes the victories in the two races before Detroit at New Jersey and Miami and a second-place finish at Barber Motorsports Park in March.

Just getting the Ferrari to the checkered flag in one piece was another small victory at Belle Isle considering Detroit kicked-off a grueling stretch of four races in five weeks. Following Mid-Ohio and an off weekend are back-to-back races to close-out June at Road America and Watkins Glen International.

“All three are definitely iconic tracks,” Segal said. “They are legendary circuits, the cream of the crop when it comes to race tracks in North America. Personally, I grew up driving Watkins Glen and I consider it a track that is one of my favorites. I have a lot of great racing history there and really enjoy the place.”

Mid-Ohio also ranks near the top of Segal’s list of tracks he always likes to visit.

“Mid-Ohio is not far behind in terms of my favorite tracks,” Segal said. “I always seem to run well there and that by itself will move it up on the list of tracks that you always look forward to. Road America, the first time I had been there was last year and it took some familiarization. It is a really fun track, but we struggled a lot there last year with our car. We weren’t really competitive so I don’t know what to think heading to Road America, but right now I am really looking forward to Mid-Ohio.”

Segal most recently competed at Mid-Ohio battling for the victory in 2011’s season-ending Rolex Series race.

“Last year was a competitive race where we were fighting for the win the entire time, and that memory is still fresh, so hopefully we are in a position where we can fight up front again this weekend,” Segal said. “All indications seem to be that we should be quite competitive at Mid-Ohio. We are really looking forward to it and I think getting on the podium would be a good target for us this weekend. The top of the podium would be ideal, but we are very much in a big picture focus right now because we have a few more races in this string. We are not going to do anything foolish in the name of trying for a victory when maybe we should be settling for something else.”

In addition to last year’s eventful race, Segal has some older memories of his earliest events at Mid-Ohio.

“My first experience at Mid-Ohio was back when I was 16 years old,” Segal said. “I had just moved from go-karts to cars in club racing and Mid-Ohio was one of my first races. It went very well, we were very quick, but I got showed up a little bit by some of the local hot shoes. It was a good eye-opening experience that taught me a lot about the Mid-Ohio race track and I learned some tricks then that I definitely carry back with me every year.”

Segal and Assentato, the 2010 GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series GT champions, come to Mid-Ohio with a nine point edge over the nearest competitor, 153 – 144. The No. 69 AIM Autosport Team FXDD Ferrari 458 Italia Grand Am leads the team championship standings with the same points total and margin heading to Mid-Ohio.