TRG flew into central Ohio from points all over the globe today in preparation for Round Two of the 2004 American Le Mans Series. The team and drivers have been busy racing at Le Mans, in Indianapolis and in Watkins Glen, but have been preparing since the end of the Sebring 12 Hours in March for the two hour, 45 minute race in Ohio Sunday. In April, the team conducted two long days of testing at the historic circuit, and arrived at the circuit several days early to leave nothing to chance.
The TRG drivers have been a busy lot. Porsche factory driver Patrick Long has had a very successful month, winning his class in his maiden run at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and finishing second in round five of the Porsche Michelin Supercup, in support of Formula One at the U.S. Grand Prix.
He said, "Le Mans was a dream... To go there and win the first time was sort of a double dose. Just partaking in the 24 is so special. The fans and the history really gives that race a feeling that I've never before experienced... then to walk out on to the bridge podium and to feel all those people cheering for me is just something that makes the hair raise up on the back of my neck. It hasn't all sunk in yet, but I know it's a memory I'll carry with me for the rest of my life."
He continued, "The best thing about racing for me is every time I win, I crave that next win even more. Winning Le Mans is great, but I want to back it up this summer in the marathon of ALMS races upcoming. I'm as confident as I've ever been as a driver, but in no means do I see this ALMS season any less challenging than I did before. I want to go out there and give New Century Mortgage and our other great sponsors that have leant their name and resources to the Racer's Group some solid results."
Jim Matthews also raced at Le Mans, but an electrical gremlin ended his race in the middle of his first stint. He commented on the transition between racing at Le Mans and racing in America again. "I feel great, I'm just happy to be here racing. Mid-Ohio is a very fun track to drive, but it's very hectic the next couple of weeks -- it's time to put my racing hat on. Here, it'll be key to stay out of trouble during the race, it's such a tight course with lots of traffic bottlenecks. I had a lot of fun in Europe -- there's something about racing in front of a couple of hundred thousand people at Le Mans that makes it very special. With all those fans there's just a lot of excitement. I'm looking forward to getting underway here -- it's going to be a fun summer."
Cort Wagner has had a busy and successful break since Sebring, as he's been busy competing in the Daytona Prototype class in the Grand-American series. He and former TRG driver Kelly Collins are currently tied for fourth place in the DP driver's championship. Between his busy Grand-Am schedule, he's been preparing alongside co-driver Patrick Long for the ALMS season. "We've done a bunch of testing," he said, "and we're coming into Mid-Ohio ready to take the fight to the rest of our class. I've put a lot of time into training, which you definitely need on the long summer schedule. After we finish up here in Mid-Ohio, TRG and I have to get down to Daytona, do the race in the middle of the night on Thursday and then dash up to Lime Rock in time for Friday practice. It's going to be hectic, but it's also a lot of fun."
Team owner Kevin Buckler said: "After the crazy schedule we've had over the last few months, I'm happy to settle down into our rhythm and get back to racing with the ALMS. We've prepared for this race long and hard, and I have to say that I'm pleased with our complete package. Our sponsors, partners, drivers, crew -- everyone is pushing for the same goal. I'm very pleased with our team right now."
CBS will join the Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio live at 2pm ET, and follow the race through to it's conclusion at 4pm ET.