Alex Job Racing Completes Successful ALMS GTC Season
TAVARES, FL, (Oct. 21, 2011) - Alex Job Racing has completed a successful American Le Mans Series (ALMS) GTC season with Bill Sweedler won the Founders Cup and finished fourth in driver points, Leh Keen was sixth and Brian Wong ended up eighth.
Highlights of the season for Sweedler, Westport, Connecticut, Keen, Charleston, South Carolina, and Wong, Newport Beach, California, in the No. 23 Battery Tender/Robert Graham/ William Rast/AJR/Porsche included the team's second pole in as many years in the GTC class at the Twelve Hours of Sebring. Although they could not muster a win on the season, the Battery Tender team placed second at Long Beach, Baltimore and Petit Le Mans. In addition, another podium finish of third was awarded at Lime Rock with local guest driver Butch Leitzinger.
"We had a real up and down season," Alex Job, team owner said. "The highlight was really our great runs at the closed street courses in Long Beach and Baltimore. Bill and Leh really ran well at those two tracks, and we were able to lead a majority of the laps at those races. Brian came in and was solid in his five starts with us with a definite highlight being Petit Le Mans. Our low point was of course the dnf at Road America. The AJR crew had the car running fast and strong at every event."
Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, qualified first, finished eighth
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 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.
Long Beach Grand Prix, qualified second, finished second
Drivers Bill Sweedler and Leh Keen ran a strong race in the No. 23 Battery Tender/Robert Graham/William Rast/AJR/Porsche to finish on the second step of the podium. Sweedler had the controls of the AJR Porsche at the start and what a start he had. When the green flag dropped, the call of "green, green, green" fueled Sweedler to take the lead coming onto the main straight. Navigating the 1.98-mile concrete lined street course, Sweedler led every circuit of his stint before handing over to Keen on lap 51. Keen got buckled in the 23 Battery Tender Porsche hit the ignition switch and the motor turned over a few times before firing, allowing the No. 54 Porsche to pass on pit lane. The race finished under yellow following a crash with 10-minutes remaining. Keen is credited with the fast lap of race in GTC with a 1:24.688.
Northeast Grand Prix run at Lime Rock Park, qualified fifth, finished third
Sweedler took the start of the two-hour-and-forty-five-minute race and quickly improved from his fifth place grid position to third. On lap 25 Sweedler was hit by an LMPC car knocking off the front splitter, severely affecting the handling of the No. 23 Battery Tender/Robert Graham/William Rast/AJR/Porsche. The Westport, Connecticut resident recovered and handed the 23 over to Leitzinger on lap 63 in fifth place. After the pit stops played out Leitzinger found himself in a constant battle for the final podium position with two different cars. The first was with the No. 68 who was running on fresher rubber. Finally with just one lap to go the Rebersburg, Pennsylvania resident passed the 54 for the last podium step to give the team their second consecutive podium finish.
Mobil 1 presents the Grand Prix of Mosport, qualified fourth, finished fourth
Sweedler started the No. 23 Battery Tender/Robert Graham/William Rast/AJR/Porsche from the second row in GTC. The Westport, Connecticut resident was running in fifth place up until the team's first pit stop on lap 31. The Alex Job crew put in an excellent stop getting Sweedler out in second and then he proceeded to take the lead in class 12 laps later. As the race progressed, both Sweedler and Wong led laps. With the race playing out to be a fuel run, Wong felt the engine bobble on lap 125, of 129, while in second place. Wong, from Newport, Beach, California , hit the reserve switch, the car stalled and it took him several seconds to restart the No. 23 Porsche, meanwhile he was put back to fourth where he finished.
Mid-Ohio Sports Car Challenge, qualified second, finished fifth
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.
Warner Cable Road Race Showcase at Road America, qualified sixth, did not finish
AJR's Bill Sweedler, Westport, Connecticut, had the wheel at the start of the four-hour long race. Prior to the green the ALMS field began getting aligned and stacked up before coming up the hill resulting in contact at both ends of the No. 23 Battery Tender/Robert Graham/William Rast/AJR/GTC Porsche. The resulting contact ruptured the radiator at the front of the Battery Tender Porsche causing engine damage and ending the team's day only two-laps into the event.
Baltimore Grand Prix, qualified second, finished second
In front of a huge Baltimore crowd Sweedler had the wheel of the No. 23 Battery Tender Porsche for the start. The Westport, Connecticut resident was up-on-the-wheel right from the drop of the green flag. He was able to avoid a first turn pile-up by navigating around the outside avoiding a group of cars that were completely stopped on the track. After that he was able to make a competitive run, pressuring the eventual winning 54 car for the front spot for the first hour. On lap 29 the field was bunched-up under a yellow for a manhole cover that came-up. On lap 35 Sweedler turned the car over to Keen who exited the pits in the third position, still under caution. On the restart Keen made quick work of the No. 68 and began to pressure the 54 car again. As the race progressed the rear of the black and yellow Battery Tender 911 began to lose traction and Keen was able to hold onto second place at the checkered the flag.
ModSpace American Le Mans Monterey Presented by Tequila Patrón at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, qualified seventh, finished fourth
Shane Lewis, from Jupiter, Florida, started the No. 23 Battery Tender/William Rast/Robert Graham/Alex Job Racing Porsche from the fourth row and drove it up to third place by lap 58 when he handed it over to teammate Sweedler. Excellent pit work by the AJR crew got Sweedler, Westport, Connecticut, out first and in first for the start of his tour of Laguna Seca. After leading several laps and being a fixture at the front of the GTC field, Sweedler handed the Battery Tender Porsche over to Wong. Wong, Newport Beach, California, was determined to keep the car at the front. Doing double duty Wong had the car on the podium when he handed it over to Lewis for the final run. On lap 209, while running in third, Lewis experienced steering problems and a left front flat tire, putting the team off of the rostrum and in fourth.
Petit Le Mans powered by Mazda, qualified fourth, finished second
Starting from the second row, Leh Keen, Charleston, South Carolina, wasted little time in driving the No. 23 Battery Tender/William Rast/Robert Graham/Alex Job Racing Porsche to the front of the GTC field. On his first pit stop on lap 22 for fuel under caution, he was exiting the pits and didn't see the red light at the end of pit road and proceeded onto the track. The result was a pit lane violation and a 60-second penalty that put the team down a lap. With some strong driving by Keen, and crafty strategy from the team, Keen was back on the lead lap by circuit 54. The team continued to swap the top three positions throughout the day and night as pit stops cycled. Brian Wong, Newport Beach, California did a long mid-day stint to keep the team at the front of the field. Bill Sweedler, Westport, Connecticut drew the late-afternoon shift and drove a flawless double stint to keep the Battery Tender Porsche in contention. As night fell, along with the track temperatures, a well-rested Keen took over the car and proceeded to rage to the front. He quickly passed for second and engaged in a battle for the top step of the podium with the pole sitting No. 54 car. Chipping away at the lead, the GTC race came down to a pit stop competition on lap 356 (of 394 total) between the 54 and AJR teams. The AJR crew was able to get Keen out ahead of the 54 car with a ten-second gap. But the lead only lasted for a lap, when on the very next circuit Keen was pushed off the track in Turn One by a GT Class Ferrari, causing damage to the front splitter severely affecting the handling in the high-speed turns. That made Keen easy prey for the fast 54 car, which went by ten laps later relegating the team to the second step of the podium.
The American Le Mans Series Presented by Tequila Patron will take up action in 2012 with the 60th running of the Mobil One Twelve Hours of Sebring, March 17th.
Alex Job Racing is one of the most successful teams in ALMS history with 39 wins. This record is supported by 46 pole positions and 75 podium finishes. The team has won three championships (GT in 2002, 2003 and 2004) complimented by their two GT class wins at Le Mans. The team also boasts seven Sebring 12-hour wins.
The ALMS GTC category is specific to one of the most popular factory produced racing cars in the world, the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup. Developed for Porsche's one-make series around the world, the new version of the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup is based on the road-going 911 GT3 RS. The power unit featured in the new 911 GT3 Cup is largely identical to the production engine of the 911 GT3 RS with the same output of 450 bhp and the same maximum engine speed of 8,500 rpm.