This marks RealTime Racing’s 55th victory in SPEED World Challenge competition and its seventh at Road Atlanta.
His teammate, Peter Cunningham, finished third in his Acura TSX, five seconds behind Kleinubing, after heated battles with a number of drivers throughout the 25-lap contest.
After the first three rounds, Acura has a 25-21 lead over Mazda for the series Manufacturers’ Championship.
Cunningham’s third podium in as many events this season and 68th of his World Challenge career gives him the points to maintain his lead in the Drivers’ Championship with 83 points over Mazda driver Jeff Altenburg’s 73, while Kleinubing moves up to third with 64.
“I love high-speed tracks with sweeping turns where you can build up a rhythm,” said Kleinubing. “Our strength was through the downhill esses which are so much fun to drive. I want to give special thanks to Pete Luiz, my car chief, who deserves a ton of credit, because he hands me a car every race that is set up soooo good.”
Kleinubing qualified second, one of 15 cars to break Cunningham’s 2004 qualifying record, with a 97.762 mph lap. He did, however, win the urbanracer.com Hot Lap award for setting a new track record with the event’s fastest race lap.
Kleinubing hounded early race leader Nic Jonsson’s BMW, then made the inside pass in Turn Six to take the lead. “The cars behind me were all fighting for position, running side-by-side, and that allowed me to get a gap on them,” Kleinubing said. “By the time they got back in line, there was no way they could catch me.”
Cunningham slipped two positions to seventh by the end of the first lap, but used his years of experience at Road Atlanta to work his way back to fourth place by Lap 18, and to third on the last lap when he sped by Charles Espenlaub’s Mazda, but not before the duo put on a side-by-side driving display which involved some off-roading.
“We caught lapped traffic in the esses that balked Charles and gave me a chance to get alongside,” Cunningham said, “from there to the bottom of the hill neither of us lifted and he was on and off the road as we entered Turn Five, but I got underneath him and had the better run at the exit to grab the position.”
Eric Curran, driving his RealTime Acura RSX, leaves Road Atlanta fifth in the points following a sixth place finish, his best of the season-to-date. Eric once again kept his nose clean and made good decisions in traffic to move up four spots from his 10th place start.
RealTime’s series Rookie of the Year candidate, Brandon Davis, continues to show strength and speed with his first top-10 finish. Davis qualified his RealTime Acura TSX 11th quickest, but fell to 22nd place on the third lap when, to avoid an accident between two competitors, made an evasive maneuver through the pea gravel in Turn One.
Davis then roared through the field, taking 15th place by the Lap Nine, and 10th place by Lap 19. He is now seventh in the season Drivers’ points and holds a significant 29 point advantage over his closest rival for the top rookie prize.
Nick Esayian, who drives the team’s other Acura RSX, continued with the consistency he has showed in all three of the season’s races, starting 22nd and finishing 11th. He is now eighth in the points.
“These first three races have shown all the hard work this team accomplished in the off-season is paying dividends. All five of RealTime’s cars – and their drivers – are demonstrating that they’re consistent contenders,” Team Manager Nathan Bonneau said. “The cars have been fast and reliable, and the drivers are using their heads. It’s still early in the season, but this is exactly the kind of performance we were striving for to be in contention for the championship.
“We now have a month to test and prepare for the next event, and intend to keep our focus and come back even stronger in our quest for a ninth title.”
The Road Atlanta race was televised live on SPEED TV. The race will re-air Tuesday, April 19, at 4:30 p.m. ET.
Round Four of the 11-race SPEED Touring Car battle is May 20-22 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, where RealTime Racing is the defending race winner.
The RealTime Racing Acuras are sponsored by the Acura Division of American Honda, A-SPEC, Red Line Oil, Eibach Springs, Memphis Car Audio, buyBrakes.com, BOSCH, Sparco, Hawk Performance, Brembo, SportCompactCar, Valley Graphix, Total Auto Body, PACT and A-YES.