Domination in Long Beach
Long Beach, CA (April 16, 2011) - The Muscle Milk Aston Martin Racing team took the streets of Long Beach by storm on Saturday and scored its fourth victory - third overall - in the American Le Mans Series, on its home turf.
The team which is based in Benicia, California was looking to bounce back from a difficult season opening race in Sebring a few weeks ago and they did it in the best possible way. Not only did they win but they also nearly lapped the entire field.
Lucas Luhr, who was starting the race in second place aboard the Muscle Milk Aston Martin Racing LMP1 car, took over first place from Chris Dyson in Turn 5 on the opening lap.
From that point on, the team never looked back.
Even with a full course caution that slowed the race for 10 laps and a scare with a Flying Lizard car, Luhr was able to build a gap of over 30 seconds before heading down pit lane to hand off the Aston Martin to Klaus Graf on lap 44, about one hour in to the two-hour event.
The only lap the team didn't lead of the 83 completed was the one on which they stopped for fuel, a driver change and a set of new Michelin tires, but the Muscle Milk squad quickly took over the top of the charts once again when it was Dyson's turn to pit.
Following the pit stops by the LMP1 cars, Muscle Milk Aston Martin Racing had extended its lead to 44.5 seconds on their class rivals.
As the race wound down, Graf continued to increase the gap and was only seconds away from lapping the field at one point. However, the lead crossing the finish line was reduced due to a full course caution that came out with just under eight minutes to go and which forced the race to finish under yellow.
The win was a fifth one for Graf, a 32nd for Luhr and the team's first with its Aston Martin LMP1 coupe.
Additionally, Muscle Milk Aston Martin Racing took home the honors in the prototype category of the Michelin Green X Challenge, an award given to the team that demonstrates the best overall performance and fuel efficiency with the least environmental impact.
With today's win, the Muscle Milk team closes the gap to 26 points in the LMP1 championship race to the first place team.
The Muscle Milk crew will be back in action in two weeks time with its IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge car and driver Mark Bullitt at Miller Motorsports Park in Utah from April 29 to May 1. The ALMS group will return to competition at Lime Rock Park in July.
It was a perfect day for Muscle Milk Aston Martin Racing and a great performance all around.
Muscle Milk Quotes:
Klaus Graf, driver Muscle Milk Aston Martin Racing
"It was a perfect day for Muscle Milk Aston Martin Racing and a great performance all around. Lucas laid the groundwork getting by the Dyson car early and then the race unfolded well for us. The guys did an awesome job on the pit stop as well, which allowed us to gain even more time.
"After a few laps in my stint they asked me to start saving fuel and that's what I tried to do. It's not always easy, you're managing traffic, trying to do a decent lap time and saving fuel all at the same time. It can be a little nerve-wracking because it's easy to lose your attention. But it all worked out and in the end we just brought it home.
"I'm very happy for the guys, the team, especially for John Ogden from Aston Martin as well as our partners Michelin and Aston Martin. Sebring didn't go quite the way we wanted to so to win the Long Beach Grand Prix, and for me it's the first time, I'm quite happy."
Lucas Luhr, driver Muscle Milk Aston Martin Racing
"I'm really thankful that Greg and Penny Pickett let me do this race in Long Beach and I'm happy that I could give something back to the team with a win. I had a good stint, in the beginning I was able to overtake Dyson in Turn 5 and then start building a gap. You never know what can happen on a street circuit so to have a nice gap is always good.
"I'm also happy for the crew. They worked so hard at Sebring and we just had tough luck with the fire and a DNF, so it's great to give the guys something back, they really deserve it. Big thanks to them for preparing the car so well. Also, thank you to Klaus who did a good job at the end. It's always very easy to lose focus when you have such a big lead and he had to save fuel. It might have looked easy from the outside but for sure it was not. Overall I'm just very pleased with the weekend.
"(About the close call with the #45 Flying Lizard car) That was a moment! I think Patrick Long was in the Lizard car, I'm not sure what happened but he hit the wall in Turn 9 and he had a broken suspension, so I tried to get around him but I saw him coming towards me because he wasn't in control of his own car anymore because of the suspension damage. As I wanted to go around him, I saw him coming and I had to brake and he went in front of me and slowed down so I nearly hit him. It was a bit of a late afternoon wake up call!"