Muscle Milk AMR press release
Muscle Milk AMR wins nail-biting thriller to score three in a row
- - Another top 10 for Bullitt -
Muscle Milk Aston Martin Racing had one of its best days in racing, if not the best, at Road America on Saturday, taking its third victory in a row in a four-hour endurance race that was more of a sprint to the checkered flag which resulted in the closest finish in American Le Mans Series history.
Asked to do the impossible of 'pushing hard and saving fuel', Klaus Graf drove an amazing race to hold off a charging Guy Smith in the Dyson Racing Lola in the final 30 minutes of the race and capture the win by 0.112 seconds.
Graf had taken over driving duties just over one hour and 25 minutes into the four-hour event and thanks to an excellent job by the Muscle Milk crew picked up the lead upon exiting pit lane.
I think this is one of the best days for the Muscle Milk team, to have such a close finish after four hours, it's unbelievable.
The German had built a gap of over 20 seconds at one point in the race, only to see it vanish when the third full course caution came out. When the green flag waved again with one hour and 19 minutes to go, Graf had to keep on pushing as his lead now ranged from 1.9 to 3.7 seconds.
With another full course caution slowing down the field with 54 minutes remaining, the team could now look at finishing the race with only one more stop for fuel, but it would be really, really close to make it the full distance.
So, while Graf was on track pushing as hard as he could and saving as much fuel as possible, the crew members behind the wall and on the timing stand were having flashbacks to last season when the team lost the race in the final turns after being slowed by a GT car.
Greg and Klaus at Road AmericaFortunately for the team déjà vu was not in order but sweet redemption was despite facing some adversities, like a small fire during the first pit stop and contact with a GT car, throughout the event that took 107 to complete.
Earlier in the race, Lucas Luhr, who had started aboard the Muscle Milk Aston Martin LMP1 car, had built a gap of over one minute to the 16 Dyson car in third, all while fighting for the lead with the 20 Dyson car.
Unfortunately for the Muscle Milk squad, the huge gap with their Championship standings rivals was lost when the second caution came out on Lap 35, but less than three hours later it didn't really matter as it all came down to just over a tenth of second.
By completing their first hat trick of victories, Muscle Milk Aston Martin Racing now have four wins this season and have closed the gap to 18 in the Championship point standings. The win was also the 35th career victory for Luhr who now sits alone in third place in all-time wins in the ALMS.
Next up for the Greg Pickett-led team will be the Baltimore Grand Prix in two weeks time.
- Eighth place finish for Bullitt in Race 2
Muscle Milk Pickett Racing's Mark Bullitt drove back from an early set back in Race 2 of the IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama at Road America to finish eighth.
The German, who was starting ninth in his second event of the weekend, gained two spots at the start to move into seventh place. Unfortunately for Bullitt, he would later find himself in 22nd place after a spin in Turn 1 of lap 3 cost him many positions.
Not one to give up in the face of adversity, the driver of the #6 Muscle Milk Porsche GT3 Cup car made his way back through the field and by lap 10, with about 20 minutes to go in the 45 minute race, had moved back within the top 10.
Bullitt would go on to finish eighth and collect his second top 10 of the weekend. Next up for the IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge will be another double-header weekend at Laguna Seca in four weeks.
... it's a good day for all of us and I'm really happy.
- MUSCLE MILK QUOTES
AMERICAN LE MANS SERIES DRIVERS
Klaus Graf, co-driver Muscle Milk Aston Martin Racing
"I think this is one of the best days for the Muscle Milk team, to have such a close finish after four hours, it's unbelievable. We had to push the entire race as much as we could. At one point it was save fuel, save fuel and push. We ran almost mistake free, because I had to push so hard I had a couple of really close calls but I had to push like that otherwise there was no way we were going to make it and we had to stay in the lead, it was very critical. We did that in every pit stop.
"This was a special day for the team and Greg and Penny after coming so close last year. This is a fun day and this is what racing is all about and why I think Greg has such a passion for it."
Lucas Luhr, co-driver Muscle Milk Aston Martin Racing
"Today, for me, the hardest part was watching the end of the race! It's not that I don't trust Klaus but you never know when something can happen with traffic and then it's just hard to get it back. But he drove extremely well, very clever and a big part of the victory goes to Klaus today. I think it's a good day for the Muscle Milk team especially after the way they lost the race last year in the last three corners, it's a good reward, a good payback. So, it's a good day for all of us and I'm really happy."
IMSA GT3 CUP CHALLENGE BY YOKOHAMA DRIVER
Mark Bullitt, driver #6 Muscle Milk Team CytoSport
"At the start we gained a couple of spots but two laps later I went into turn 1 and tried to brake a little bit later but the car spun around on me. From there we just followed the other guys and took it step by step while having some fair battles with a few guys.
"This weekend wasn't the best for us in terms of results but the good thing is that we got some points, and that's important for the championship standings."