Alex Job Racing Finishes Controversial Fifth in GTC at Mid-Ohio
LEXINGTON, Ohio, (Aug. 6, 2011) - Alex Job Racing's (AJR) Bill Sweedler and Leh Keen finished in fifth place in GTC in a controversial running of the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) presented by Tequila Patron Mid-Ohio Sports Car Challenge.
We were a victim today.
Sweedler was at the controls of the No. 23 Battery Tender/Robert Graham/William Rast/AJR/GTC Porsche for the start. The Westport, Connecticut resident had to wait three laps before his Yokohama tires heated up and then he began to reel in the GTC leader. Sweedler assumed the lead on lap 40 and then on lap 42 he pitted turning the car over to Keen. Keen, from Charleston, South Carolina, exited the pits in third in great position to hunt down the leader. On lap 54 a full course caution flew bunching the field. The ALMS Officials waved the field by the Pace Car. At the same time the Pace Car had mechanical issues and pulled off of the track. The Officials then dispatched the Porsche Cayenne Medical vehicle to become the Pace Car. Keen was also waved-by the "Medical Pace Car" as well. This put the team a lap up on the GTC field. To fix the problem the ALMS Officials called Keen in on lap 75 to serve a three-minute penalty, putting the No. 23 Battery Tender Porsche down a lap to the GTC field and for all purposes out of the race. By this time rain had begun to fall on the circuit and the race ended under red flag 20 laps later after running 13 laps under caution.
"I had a good opening stint," Sweedler said. "It took about three laps for the tires to get up to temperature, but when they did I started to take time out of the lead of the 66 car. By the end of my stint I caught him and was able to lead a couple of laps before my pit stop. Leh got in and was really strong. We had a good set-up on the car that got better as the stint went on. Then we had the issue with the Pace Car and the wave-by. It is too bad that the Officials couldn't have done a better job to fix it during the race so we would have at least had a chance to battle back on the track."
Keen had the Battery Tender Porsche for the second stint.
"The car was really good in the dry," Keen said. "The car was feeling good and I was confident we were in a good position for a strong finish. I was taking it easy, keeping everything clean to make it to the end. In the wet conditions we were good as well. I was looking forward to having a good battle with the top guys in the class. The penalty and everything is frustrating, especially when we had such a good car."
Alex Job, team owner, is frustrated with the way the penalty was handled.
"We were a victim today," Job said. "We followed the directions of the Race Director and the Pace Car driver and I think we were over penalized for what happened. If they had to fix it, they didn't need to ruin our chances of coming back by parking us for three-minutes. I would have been satisfied with giving the lap back and giving Leh a chance to come back on the track and make a race of it. The decision to penalize us for so long was unjust and ruined our weekend."
Today's Mid-Ohio Sports Car Challenge will be televised on ESPN2 at 10 p.m., this evening, Sunday, Aug. 2.
TheAmerican Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patron will travel to Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin for the Time Warner Cable Road Race Showcase to be run at Road America, Aug. 18-20.