Sebring 12 Hours
Alex Job Racing On Pole in GTC at Sebring
Team overcomes adversity to start first
Sebring, FL (March 18, 2011) - Alex Job Racing's (AJR) Leh Keen qualified the No. 23 Battery Tender/Robert Graham/William Rast/AJR/Porsche on pole position for tomorrow's running of the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) presented by Tequila Patron Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. The pole is the second in a row for Keen and AJR at Sebring. Keen is joined by teammates Bill Sweedler and Brian Wong.
The pole starting position didn't come easy. In yesterday's first practice of the day, Sweedler was driving through Turn Seven when he was struck from behind by a spinning competitor. The resulting damage to the right rear of the Battery Tender Porsche forced the team to a back-up car. The AJR crew pulled the For Sale sign out of the window and prepared, what was, last year's car in time to participate in night practice - no small feat. The result of a full afternoon's work by the entire team was rewarded with the fastest lap time of night practice and pole position.
Keen ran a time of 2:07.373 and will lead the GTC field to the green tomorrow morning at 10:30 a.m.
"Right off of the truck we had a race car," Keen said. "The set-up was right on and we were able to get comfortable and do a lot of laps early in the week. Greg (Fordahl, team engineer) does such a good job, he really knows the track and these cars. We really just followed the track Monday and Tuesday making small adjustments. Thursday morning we were fastest in practice and then another car lost it and took Bill out. That was just the worst case scenario. We had to start all over with last year's car. The competition has been running since Monday and we had to start again. The guys put in a huge effort to get the back-up car together. I was able to go out in the night practice and turn the fastest lap. The car was great. I think this car actually handles a little better. This morning we were quick as well. I was able to squeeze out the pole with it today. With everything that went on it shows what a great team we have with AJR."
Bill Sweedler was at the wheel when the primary car was taken out Thursday morning.
"It was unfortunate what happened Thursday in practice," Sweedler said. "The AJR guys put together an incredible car and we were fast all week to that point. We were very competitive on ours times, we didn't put a wheel off. We then got collected in another car's incident. I think he lost his brakes. It was a massive hit from behind. He swung the car around and his rear hit our rear and that was it for our car. We got approval from the series to move to another tub and the guys rebuilt the car in less than seven hours. Leh did an animal job to put this car on the pole. It is a testament to the professionalism of every member of Alex's team."
Brian Wong is enjoying his first run of the season with AJR.
"Practice this week was really smooth," Wong said. "We had the hick-up on Thursday morning with the wreck. The AJR guys put together a brand new race car in seven hours and we took it out and ran the fast lap of night practice in GTC. I've never seen anything like it. We picked up where we left off at the top of the charts. The pole is really for the team and all of their hard work. They worked their butts off. Leh did a great job, but the team did a great job on the car. This is only half of the battle. We have 12 hours to go tomorrow and hopefully we can end the day in Victory Lane."
Team owner Alex Job is happy with the speed and over joyed with the team work displayed so far this weekend. His team is going for their eighth Sebring win.
"Both cars have been fast all weekend," Job said. "Bill had an unfortunate incident going into Turn Seven and was hit from behind. The hit bent the tub to a point where we had to go to a back-up. The team did a great job to get it ready for night practice. We hit the set-up and ended up being the fastest GTC car in night practice. Leh did a great job in qualifying to get our second consecutive pole in GTC. We need to get the guys a good night's rest and be ready for 12 hours tomorrow.
The green flag will drop on the ALMS season opener from Sebring on Saturday, March 19 at 10:30 a.m. The race can be viewed online at ESPN3.com starting at 10:15 a.m. ET. ABC will show a 90-minute highlights program on Sunday, March 20 at 12:30 p.m. ET.