Houston: Rahal Letterman Racing preview

Rahal Letterman Racing Hopes For Positive Changes in Houston Hilliard, Ohio ... In 1985, musical artist Howard Jones released the song, "Things Can Only Get Better." Heading into this weekend's ALMS event in Houston, Texas, Rahal Letterman ...

Rahal Letterman Racing Hopes For Positive Changes in Houston

Hilliard, Ohio ... In 1985, musical artist Howard Jones released the song, "Things Can Only Get Better." Heading into this weekend's ALMS event in Houston, Texas, Rahal Letterman Racing's Ralf Kelleners and Tom Milner, drivers of the #18 Bell Micro Porsche, are hoping that title applies to their upcoming weekend. The duo eagerly anticipates racing in the 2007 Grand Prix of Houston, which will take place April 20-21. The event will feature a spectacular combination of racing and other activities, highlighted by a world-class American Le Mans Series event. JAGFlo Speedway is a temporary 1.7-mile course constructed around Reliant Stadium and the historic Reliant Astrodome.

Following three previous American Le Mans Series starts this season at Sebring (6th in GT2 Class), St. Petersburg (8th in GT2 Class) and Long Beach (12th in GT2 Class), the team is currently in 6th in GT2 Class points.

Kelleners, a 38-year-old native of Dinslaken, Germany, has professional sports car experience dating to the early `90s and has driven entries at Le Mans for Porsche and Toyota, and at Sebring and Daytona for Ferrari. Last season, he split his driving between the American Le Mans Series for Ferrari (3rd at Sebring), a one-off run in Grand-Am competition, and a run for BMW in the 24 Hours of Nurburgring in Germany. Kelleners is a second-generation driver whose father, Helmut, was a three-time European Touring Champion.

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Rahal Letterman Racing - Track Talk: Grand Prix of Houston

"I look forward to racing in Houston. It is our third straight street race and this course is very tight compared with St. Petersburg and Long Beach," said Kelleners. "It will be very important qualify well and maintain optimum track position. car improved throughout the weekend in Long Beach. When the race started, we had a pretty good handle on the car and began to move up before the incident."

Milner, a 21-year-old native of Washington, Virginia, joins RLR with two full seasons of sports- car experience, including last season in the American Le Mans Series GT2 class, when he drove for Multimatic Motorsports and posted an impressive nine top-10 results in 10 races. Milner is the son of Team PTG owner Tom Milner and has spent his entire life in and around the family business of racing.

"Our fortune has to turn around soon," said Milner. "We had a really good car in Long Beach after we made some changes on Friday night [prior to the race]. Houston is a very tight course and we need to start near the front of the pack. Passing spots are at a premium on the course."

This marks Rahal Letterman Racing's 5th time racing in Houston, Texas. The team's best result was a fourth-place in 1999 with Max Papis behind the wheel. RLR has won 19 races and 29 pole positions since its inception in 1992. Kenny Brack and Bryan Herta are the career leaders in pole positions with six and Bobby Rahal and Kenny Brack are the co-leaders in wins with four. Bryan Herta had the best start for RLR in Houston, in 1999 he started second on the grid. Of Rahal Letterman Racing's 19 wins, only one has come on a street circuit, Bobby Rahal's win at Toronto in 1992. Of RLR's 29 pole positions, four have come on street circuits, the most recent being Michel Jourdain's 2003 pole at Long Beach. RLR's American Le Mans Series debut came this season at Sebring. In addition to being a Hall of Fame Indy Car driver, Bobby Rahal also won the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona in 1981 and the 1987 Mobil 12 Hours of Sebring. Rahal won both of those events while driving a Porsche.

-credit: rlr

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About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers Ralf Kelleners , Max Papis , Bobby Rahal , Bryan Herta , Kenny Brack , Michel Jourdain