Long Beach, CA. — Level 5 Motorsports and Scott Tucker kicked off their bid for a third consecutive victory on the streets of Long Beach in style, as Ryan Briscoe scored a commanding pole position for Saturday’s Tequila Patrón American Le Mans Series at Long Beach, the second round of the 10-race ALMS season.
The open-wheel star, who was on pole for the IZOD IndyCar Series event at Long Beach last year, was more than one-second clear of the P2 competition, putting Level 5 and nine-time national driving champion Tucker in prime position for tomorrow’s two-hour sprint race.
“It was a good effort by the whole Level 5 team,” said Briscoe, who earned his second consecutive ALMS pole. “We didn’t have any data to go by from last year because all of the practice and qualifying was rained out.
We were kind of blindfolded going in. The car was good for qualifying and everyone at Level 5 has been doing an awesome job. I felt like we are going to be able to work on it and be good for the race. Hopefully we can keep our nose clean and make it to the end.”
Both of Level 5’s Honda-powered prototypes rolled off the truck fast, with Briscoe and the No. 552 car of Marino Franchitti ending up 1-2 in Friday morning practice, the only session offered to ALMS teams this weekend.
By the time qualifying rolled around more than eight hours later, the three-time series championship-winning organization was able to quickly adapt to the changing track conditions.
In addition to Briscoe’s pole-winning lap, Tucker recorded a respectable fourth-place qualifying run in the No. 552 car. The Level 5 team principal will again be the busiest driver in the ALMS field, as Tucker will start the pole-sitting No. 551 HPD ARX-03b before finishing out his race in the second car, which Franchitti will take to the green flag.
“It was a great qualifying effort today by both Ryan and Scott,” said team manager David Stone. “Obviously the track was a lot different than it was in the morning. The practice at 7:30 a.m. was the first time any cars had been on track, so it was pretty green.
As the grip came around, everyone got faster. It’s the shortest race of the year so it’s going to be a flat-out sprint race for us. There will be no holding back.”
With a vast amount of experience and success in street races, including a 1-2 overall finish in the Grand Prix of Baltimore last year, as well as two previous class victories at Long Beach, Level 5 has all of the ingredients needed to take its HPDs to a third consecutive class victory in what might be one of the most challenging races of the season.
“Track position will be key for sure,” Briscoe added. “It’s going to be a tough race. Speeds are so close with all the GT cars and the PC cars. We’ll be fighting all day with cars that won’t even be in our class.
So tomorrow will be about who can deal with the traffic best, not get in trouble, have no penalties, and not put any damage on the car. It will be tough work. You’ve got to be decisive in your moves. It’s a fine line, but that’s what we get paid to do.”
Level 5 Team