After leading its class for most of the Sebring 12 Hours only to retire due to a fuel-filler malfunction in the final half-hour, Muscle Milk Pickett Racing is coming to the American Le Mans Series at Long Beach eager to make up for the loss.
The race matter even more because the team’s home is in California.
“Being on the West Coast, it’s also a home race for Muscle Milk Pickett Racing and we always welcome a lot of family and friends of the team,” said driver Klaus Graf in a press statement. “[Co-driver Lucas Luhr]and I won the race last year and we certainly want to repeat that again. We had a very strong showing in Sebring and we want to keep the momentum with our brand new HPD ARX-03a.
“With such a long front straight away, Long Beach is different to most street circuits and therefore quite challenging. As always you can’t make any mistakes on street circuits as there is virtually no run off area, but both Lucas and I have a lot of experience on this type of track and we usually do very well there.”
Muscle Milk led flag-to-flag in the 2011 ALMS Long Beach race, and would like to do so again. The team faces pair of Dyson Racing Lola-Mazdas, but the toughest competitor might be the track itself.
“Driving on a street circuit is never easy because you have to find the limit without going over it, otherwise you find yourself in the wall and they are not very far away at Long Beach! It is important to keep your focus very high at all times,” Lucas Luhr emphasized.
“I think Muscle Milk Pickett Racing can do well there. We had a good race last year and we want nothing more than to repeat again this weekend and give the new HPD ARX-03a its first victory of 2012.”
Muscle Milk Pickett racing is only four points behind Dyson Racing; a win at Long Beach could propel the team into the lead.
Muscle Milk Pickett racing will also field its PC-class Oreca FLM09 at Long Beach. This car ran well at Sebring—as high as third in class—until collision damage forced a lengthy pit stop.
Driver Mike Guasch has never raced on the tight Long Beach street circuit, which could put extra pressure on them—instead, it just create extra excitement for him.
“This will be my first race at Long Beach, and I’m looking forward to it. I’m excited!” he said in the press statement. “I enjoyed the couple of street races that I did in Star Mazda at Houston and Trois-Rivières in the past. I like that type of slow technical track and I performed well on them.
“I’ve been preparing by learning the track on my simulator. There isn’t a lot of practice time at Long Beach, so preparation becomes that much more important going into the race weekend. Of course, nothing really prepares for the actual feel of the track like being on track, but the more I can learn ahead of time, the better. Fortunately, Memo has been to Long Beach and he knows it very well, so that will definitely help.”
Co-driver Memo Gidley has raced the 1.968-mile, 11-turn Long Beach circuit and is expecting good results.
“I expect the Muscle Milk/Molecule 5 PC car to be very competitive at Long Beach. We just came off a good Sebring race and as a new group of people with our car, made a lot of progress,” he explained. “We have not completely hit our stride yet and Long Beach could be the race. I’m excited!
“I won there in Atlantic cars while climbing the racing ladder and also led my first laps ever there in a CART Champ Car while driving for the Players Forsythe Team.
“The crowd is also a big part of what makes this event so fun. Lots of new race fans come to Long Beach to see their first race, along with the long time fans that have seen cars run there as far back as the F1 cars. The excitement is contagious!”
Practice and qualifying for the Long Beach ALMS race start on Friday. The American le Mans Series races there Saturday, and IndyCar’s Toyota Long Beach Grand Prix runs Sunday. Tickets are available through the Long Beach Grand Prix website.
The ALMS race will be broadcast on ESPN2 starting 7:30 p.m. EDT Saturday, April 14, while qualifying will be streamed on ESPN3 starting at 8 p.m. EDT. IndyCar will be televised on the NBC Sports Network at 3:30 p.m. EDT.