Muscle Milk Wins Fifth Consecutive ALMS Race, Viper Wins its First

By Chris Jasurek
Chris Jasurek
Chris Jasurek
Writer
August 12, 2013 Updated: August 12, 2013

Muscle Milk Pickett racing did exactly as expected by winning the American Le Mans Series Orion Energy 245 Sunday, but it wasn’t as easy as most expected.

Muscle Milk drivers Lucas Luhr and Klaus Graf faced challenges from the Delta Wing LM12, which actually led the race on a couple occasions due to timely pits stops, and a late charge by the Dyson Lola.

The DeltaWing came in to swap its rain tires for slicks during a lap-six caution, gambling that the track would dry quickly enough for slicks to be safe. It worked, and the DeltaWing cycled to the front when the Muscle Milk car pitted.

Luhr managed to run down and overtake the DeltaWing twice—his HPD ARX 03c couldn’t match its unorthodox opponent in straight-line speed but had better braking and handling.

Tony Burgess didn’t do anything dramatic to close to within 27 seconds of Graf in the last several laps; the Dyson Lola-Mazda simply had a race without mechanical difficulties and showed the kind of pace which won it the P1 title in 2011. Still Burgess didn’t get close enough to Graf to really worry the Muscle Milk driver before a late-race caution dampened proceedings.

Unfortunately the race director opted for a full-course caution instead of a local yellow, and the race ended without the P1 showdown every fan hoped for.

The late caution prevented a re-run of last year’s Muscle-Milk-Dyson battle where Guy Smith in the Dyson went wheel-to-wheel with Lucas Luhr and won by the smallest margin in series history.

Muscle Milk got its revenge, and got its fifth consecutive ALMS victory as well.

“It was another good day for Muscle Milk Pickett Racing,” Lucas Luhr said in a team press release.

“It was a little bit tricky at the beginning because no one had practiced in wet conditions over the weekend and I can’t remember when was the last time I drove our car in the wet. Plus, there were changing conditions on the circuit. There were some spots that were very slippery and some a little bit better. So I didn’t take a lot of risks at the beginning.

“We discussed on the radio when was the best time to go to the slick tires. We were not the first ones but I think we made the right decision.

“From then on it was pretty much business as usual. I still had to push but we had a very good, fast car, especially in the drying conditions and as the track got drier it was more in our favor. At the end of the day it was a pretty good day for us.”

Klaus Graf agreed. “Five wins in a row is very good. Lucas is pretty clear now on the overall ALMS wins so that is great for him to probably go into history with that record. We’re very pleased at Muscle Milk Pickett racing today.”

Viper’s Comeback Complete

The Dodge Viper was a dominant force in the early years of the American Le Mans Series, winning the GTS titles in 1999 and 2000.

SRT, Dodge’s racing performance division, brought the Viper back halfway through the 2012 season. The first several races were, predictably, learning experiences, but the cars and the ream improved steadily. SRT scored two podium places in the Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix at Mosport in mid-July, and at Road America, the #91 of Marc Goosens and Dominik Farnbacher made it to the top step of the podium.

The race was a Viper-Corvette duel which the Viper won, but it was a very near thing. The #91 barely had enough fuel in its tank to survive the final few laps under caution; had the race gone green to the end, the result would have been a Corvette one-two.

Marc Goosens told ALMS.com: “It was the first time we had been running up front, so we speculated and gambled a little bit on the fuel. There is no secret the last safety car helped; we were very low to say the least. The pit stops were perfect and they did a super job in pit lane. Now we gather more data and move on to the next race.”

PC and GTC were hard-fought as usual. Bruno Junqueira and Duncan Ende in the #9 RSR Racing Oreca beat Kyle Marcelli and Duncan Ende in the Bar 1 car by ten seconds, after the start of the race belongs to Colin Brown in the #05 Core and Tristan Nunez #18 Performance Tech cars.

Spencer Pumpelly and Nelson Canache Jr. won GTC in the #45  Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 Cup after a race-long battle with Jeroen Bleekemolen and Cooper MacNeil in the #22 car.

The American Le Mans Series’ next race will be the Grand Prix of Baltimore on August 31, followed by the IndyCar race on Sunday. Tickets are available online via raceonbaltimore.com.

Chris Jasurek
Chris Jasurek
Writer