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Gary Sheehan Makes it Two in a Row at Thunderhill

Round 2 of the United States Touring Car Championship brought the teams to the scorching heat of the
California Central Valley at Thunderhill Raceway Park in Willows, CA. 104F degree temperatures were an
additional challenge for the drivers, teams, and racing equipment. The #31 Hyundai
Genesis 3.8L Coupe driven by Gary Sheehan came into the race weekend leading the Touring Car class
championship after round 1 despite dealing with vehicle issues in the previous race.
One of those issues the team thought they had resolved during the time between races revealed itself
again in the early sessions of the weekend. Engine misfires cropped up again right from the get-go,
despite running clean in testing between races. However, the team quickly found the issue between the
Saturday morning and Saturday afternoon practice sessions, and had confidence going into Sunday
morning qualifying. That confidence proved to be well founded as the #31 Hyundai
Genesis 3.8L Coupe was finally back to fighting form, and Sheehan went on to claim a decisive pole
position in qualifying with a sizable gap over the rest of the class.
The late afternoon race later that day would put the drivers battling each other in the hottest part of the
day. Success would require well-prepared race cars and highly-focused drivers to cope with the heat and
the stress of battling wheel-to-wheel. In the end, the team executed flawlessly, and
Sheehan took home his second consecutive race win, again followed by Victor Ng in 2nd and Gary
Trudeau in 3rd.
“The weekend didn’t start well for us in Saturday practice with that misfire coming back, and I thought
we were in for another struggle of a weekend. Fortunately, car-chief Bill Penn quickly resolved the issue,
and put us in a position to focus on race day rather than fighting the car. The beginning of the race was a
little ragged for several of us not getting great standing-starts off the line, but things were sorted by the
end of turn 1. The rest of the race was relatively uneventful for us, just managing the car and the tires,
and we were able to take home the win unchallenged.”
The teams have only a few weeks to reset and get everything ready for the next round at Sonoma
Raceway in Sonoma, CA on August 22-23. The tight and twisty track and high-risk corners of Sonoma
Raceway is one of Sheehan’s favorite circuits, but at this time of year, weather can be unpredictably
mild or incredibly hot, so the teams really won’t know what they are heading into until just a few days
before the race. Sheehan goes into round 3 with a 25 point lead over second, and is looking to build up
that cushion a bit more in his bid to three-peat for the Touring Car class championship.

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