Cooper and Leh 1 Having to finish fourth or better to sew up the GTC Championship, MacNeil (Hinsdale, ILL) started from a conservative third row for today's four-hour race at the 3.27-mile, 17-turn natural road course located just north of Danville.
The University of Colorado at Boulder sophomore was able to make up ground, handing the car over to Keen (Charleston, S.C.) in the championship paying fourth position. Keen exited pit road in second place, thanks to the quick pit stop performed by the Alex Job Racing crew and proceeded to head for the lead of the GTC race.
On lap 50 Keen was able to make a pass for the overall class lead. Playing it conservatively as competitors began to go down laps, Keen was still able to lead more than 45 laps through the middle of the four hour-long race. Cycling through the last pit stop, the No. 11 JDX Porsche tried to beat the 22 WeatherTech Racing Team out of the pits by short filling their car.
That proved to be a mistake as on the penultimate lap, Michael Valiante had to duck into the pits for a splash in the No. 11 handing the GTC Class lead to Keen coming to the white flag. However, the race was not over. The speedy Jeroen Bleekemolen was closing fast, Keen put a great last lap together to take the race win and the driver's championship for MacNeil.
"Winning the championship feels great," MacNeil said. "I couldn't have done it without Alex Job Racing and WeatherTech. It's like the old saying, it isn't over until it's over. My stint was crazy. You always get lots of contact around here. On the first lap going into Turn One, championship was going through my mind.
I had to take to the infield to avoid all of the cars spinning and crashing on the track. After that excitement, I was able to get through that moment and turn good laps moving us up in the order and handing it over to Leh to win it. The team had great strategy and strong pit stops to help keep us out front."
Keen had the strategy down and was able to capitalize on the late race drama to take the team's third win of the season.
"What an exciting day," Keen said. "Qualifying didn't go well, but I kept saying we had a good race car and that is what we had today. There was no better way to help Cooper get the championship than to win the race and clinch the big trophy today. I am proud of the Alex Job Racing team.
The guys put together an awesome car and we had great strategy today. Every time we left the pits we were up at least one position, so great pit work as well. The last two laps were crazy. I knew we would be close on fuel. We got leap frogged by the 11 car during the last pit stop and we know now they short filled their tank.
We were in second place and led a lot of laps today, so I was focused on the finish. Then when the 11 ducked into the pits I got reenergized and held Jeroen off for the win."
Alex Job, team owner, had the WeatherTech team poised to close-out the championship today.
"What a day," exclaimed Job. "Cooper and Leh did exactly what they had to do to win the GTC Championship today. The guys put together a car that was easy to drive, performed flawless pit stops and Cooper and Leh did the rest. It was an exciting race. It looked like we were headed for a second-place finish, and then the 11 dove for pit lane with one lap to go, and Leh did the rest.
We have had a great season with six podium finishes to go with three wins. Leh and Cooper raced really well all season. There were no mechanical or crash issues that we had to deal with, so that allowed us to keep the focus on car preparation and going fast.
That is what wins championships. Consistency and Cooper's ability to team-up with three different co-drivers throughout the season really helped. Anthony Lazzaro and Jeroen Bleekemolen have a little piece of this championship as well."
Source: Alex Job Racing