Sebring 12 Hours
Alex Job Racing Eighth in Tough 12 at Sebring
Sebring, FL (March 19, 2011) - Alex Job Racing (AJR) drivers Leh Keen, Bill Sweedler and Brian Wong had a tough American Le Mans Series (ALMS) presented by Tequila Patron Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring in the No. 23 Battery Tender/Robert Graham/ William Rast/AJR/Porsche . The three-some finished eighth in GTC.
After resurrecting last year's car following a crash in Thursday morning's practice session the team proceeded to put it on pole in qualifying. Leh Keen qualified the Battery Tender Porsche and started it this morning at 10:30 a.m. Keen had a strong start and together with Sweedler were able to lead through caution flags and pit stops for the first 85 laps. During Sweedler's stint he had the typical fuel "bobble" which signals the driver to go to reserve setting on fuel management and head for the pits. Sweedler inadvertently hit the pit limiter switch, which limits the car to 37 mph. The team realized the mistake and Sweedler was able to switch it off and continue to the pits after a going almost a half-lap of the 3.7-mile Sebring circuit at 37 mph.
With the team trying to battle back from going two laps down for the limiter switch issue, the second hit came 23 laps later with Wong at the wheel. A piece of debris hit the electrical shut off switch located on the front outside cowl forcing the team to have the car towed back to pit lane. This sent the team down the timing chart several more laps.
Then on lap 212 just before night fell, with Wong at the wheel again, the car experienced a left front control arm ball-joint failure, costing the team several more laps.
"It was a tough race for the AJR team," Sweedler said. "Leh did a great first stint and was able to lead some laps early. The track was pretty greasy during the day. I had a rough first stint. I hit the pit limiter switch and that cost us. Brian had a few issues. The car was good at the end, but we weren't running for anything so it was really a bitter sweet finish. I have to thank Battery Tender, Robert Graham and William Rast for their support."
"The race started as planned," Keen said. "We knew we had a good car. We weren't exactly sure what the other guys were going to do. I settled in and wanted to set a pace and conserve the car early. I was able to keep it up front. Sometimes things go your way, like last year we won and the team went one-two-three. This year we had bad luck. To have a piece of debris hit the kill switch which is located at the bottom of the windshield at the back of the hood is almost unheard of with these cars, but it happened to us. Nothing you can do about it, just bad luck in its purest form. We had some positives from the weekend with the pole position. I had fun running with Bill and Brian. The guys did a great job with what happened with the cars on Thursday. I am looking forward to the rest of the season with this team."
"The race was difficult," Wong said. "We had a couple of problems during the day. Once we were into the night the car ran great. This was my first Sebring night race, so I wanted to learn as much as I could. It was good to get the night racing experience. I had the kill switch get a direct hit with debris and shut down the power to whole car. How often does that happen? That really summed up our day right there. Then I had the lower control arm problem and that just compounded what was happening to us. Just some tough luck, this team will come back strong for the rest of the season."
Team owner Alex Job knows the rigors and rewards of racing at Sebring. His team has won this event seven times.
"We were very competitive for the first 85 laps," Job said. "Leh had a good start and was able to settle in at the front, run a good pace, and lead. Bill did a good job taking over from Leh early and then we started to go downhill with the limiter button and then the kill switch. To cap it off we had a control arm problem. Brian had a very solid day behind the wheel, just some tough luck. The guys never put a wheel wrong, we just had some mechanical and mental errors that cost us valuable laps. The kill switch being shut off from debris is a new one on me."
Round two of the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) presented by Tequila Patron will be run April 15-16 through the Streets of Long Beach.