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Larry Bani Wins Tight Race at Thunderhill and Becomes Fourth Different Winner in the GoGoGear.com/UTI BMW M3

Willows, CA. August 19, 2012 -- Larry Bani won his first Nitto Tires United States Touring Car Championship (USTCC) race ever at Thunderhill on August 19, 2012 driving the GoGoGear.com / Universal Technical Institute BMW M3. Bani, who was last year’s iGrille Top Rookie, became the fourth different race winner in as many races this season. Finishing only one second behind Bani was the Roger Kraus Racing Honda Prelude of Chris Lock who was also the iGrille Top Rookie of the race. Lock was followed by theTNI Racing Mazdaspeed 3 of Felipe Cabezas.

Bani, who started in fourth place, used his drag racing skills to launch the BMW as hard as possible and managed to leap to second place right behind the pole sitter Dave Brown in the Competition Clutch / Hawk Brake Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart. Bani kept the Mitsubishi within sight while Lock and Cabezas were keeping the pressure on the BMW. On lap six, the 90 degree air temperatures seemed to be too much for Brown’s Mitsubishi and he started to slow which allowed Bani and Lock to both pass Brown. Cabezas followed one lap later and Brown knew he was in trouble.

With nobody to chase and everyone chasing him, Bani now had to make sure to drives an error free race. That was easier said than done as Lock was relentless in his pursuit. The BMW had more power and was quicker in the straights while the Honda would close the gap in the tight sections of the track. “Chris [Lock] is a totally clean driver and I have so much respect for him. He could have taken me out a dozen times but we never touched. It would have been so easy for him to just nudge me out of the way and take the lead but he kept it clean,” commented Bani after the race.

Lock who has already won a race this year was very happy with second place since it gives him a big boost in the points standings. Lock managed to win the iGrille Top Rookie award with his second place finish and he set the quickest lap of the race.

Cabezas had to be delighted to be on the podium after a rough weekend. On Saturday Cabezas, who was the overall points leader coming into round four, blew an engine in their primary car and had to switch to a backup car. Then on Sunday an off course excursion almost wrote off the backup car. Fortunately, the damage was minimal and the team managed to fix the car on time for the race.

In the GT class, Ken Kurtz used his powerful V8 engine to muscle his way to a victory in his Yokohama/TPIS Pontiac Firebird just ahead of the European Motor Works BMW M3 of John Handal. The teams now start their preparations for the big race of the season at Sonoma Raceway with the FIA World Touring Car Championship on September 21-23, 2012.

Special Awards

Wine Country Motor Sports Award

Brad McClure won the $150 gift certificate from Wine Country Motor Sports for placing 4th in the race.

Go Pro Hero Award

The Go Pro Hero of the Race was Larry Bani for winning the race and received a Go Pro high definition camera for his work.

Auto Tech Interiors Gauge Award

Brad McClure took the Auto Tech Interiors gauge award for a great drive starting in the back of the field and finishing in fourth position.

Stack Gauge Award

The Stack Gauge award went to Felipe Cabezas who had a terrible weekend which started out with a blown engine and almost destroying the car but surviving and finishing in third place.

Ironclad Performance Gloves Award

AJ Gracy won the Ironclad award for working so hard all weekend to keep the TNI Racing Mazdas in top shape after going through engine and other mechanical issues.

Mothers Clean Car Award

The Mothers Clean Car Award went to Ken Kurtz who had a new custom vehicle wrap job on his Pontiac.

LeMans Karting Fremont Seat Time Award

The LeMans Karting Fremont Seat Time Award went to Tom Milburn for having the slowest fast lap of the race.

Optima Battery Award

Optima Batteries light up most of the engines in the USTCC and Optima provides a free battery to the top three finishers.

Swift Springs Swift Move Award

Doug Makashima earned a pair of Swift Springs for his great battle for seventh place, winning by 2/100th of a second.

Sampson Racing Radios Award

The Sampson Racing Radios Award gift certificate went to Larry Bani for a great drive to first place.

Go Light Award

The Go Light award went to John Handal for a hard earned second place finish in the GT class. He won a brand new remote controlled Go Light.

Hawk Brake Award

Percy Howard received the Hawk Brake Award for a great three way battle for most of the race.

Project Mu Award

Tom Milburn took home a set of Project Mu racing brake pads for staying out of trouble and having a trouble free race.

Airaid Breathtaking Award

Airaid Breathtaking Award was given to Dave Brown who was fast all weekend, started from pole but broke down with a few laps to go.

Advanced Clutch Technology Award

Felipe Cabezas did the clutch move and won the Advanced Clutch Technology Clutch Move of the Race Award by working through all kinds of engine issues and finishing in third place.

Specialty Products Award

Brandon Kraus drove a very safe race and ended up finishing in fifth place with a brand new car in its first race. Kraus won a Specialty Products alignment gauge for his efforts.

HoverCam Document Camera Award

The HoverCam Document Camera Award went to Ali Arsham for having a terrific battle with two other cars and finishing eighth.

DXG USA Camera Award

The DXG USA Camera Award was given to Ken Kurtz who ended up winning the GT class. Woo won a DXG HD camcorder for his hard work.

iGrille Top Rookie Award

The iGrille Top Rookie Award went to Chris Lock who was the highest placing rookie in the field.

Polar Award

Winning a Polar heart rate monitor watch and the Polar Heart Stopping award was Ali Arsham for a great battle with Doug Makashima during the whole race.

Blackstone Labs

New partner, Blackstone Labs, provided a free engine oil analysis to John Handal who started his first USTCC race.