Baltimore, MD - It wasn't easy but Muscle Milk Pickett Racing came out victorious, and finally changed their luck, at the Grand Prix of Baltimore on Saturday by winning what is one of the most bizarre American Le Mans Series races all while taking the P1 Championship with three events remaining this season.
With the race red flagged to clean up the mess, the race started fresh a little over an hour later with Graf ahead of the field in the original grid positions. However, this time the start was waved off because Dyson had once again jumped the start.
The Grand Prix of Baltimore finally went green on the following lap, marking the start of what would be a one hour and nine minute race. The green flag action didn't last long though as a full course caution came out seconds later due to an incident in Turn 4.
With the - new - minimum drive time (six minutes) now completed, the Pickett Racing team took advantage of the yellow flag to pit for fuel and a driver change to Lucas Luhr. It meant that Graf didn't even get to do one full lap of green flag racing!
Winners! and Champions! Due to other class cars not pitting, Luhr had to fight back from a 13th place in the field after the restart. He didn't waste anytime making his way to second and finally took over the overall lead during another caution period that came out with about 35 minutes to go.
While Luhr remained in the lead when it went back to green, he found himself in fourth place overall on the following lap after sliding in liquid on the track in Turn 9. It made for an interesting end to the race as the German had to make his way past two Corvettes and their class rival Dyson Racing.
It was with about 12 minutes remaining in the shortened event that Luhr took the lead once again, with a nice pass on Guy Smith in the hairpin, and never looked back. Although it wasn't without a fight as the Dyson car stayed close behind up until the end.
The win was an ALMS record setting sixth consecutive overall victory for Pickett Racing who also clinched their second P1 Championship.
The back-to-back P1 Champions will be back in action at the Circuit of the Americas September 20 - 21, 2013 where the ALMS will be competing for the first time.
Klaus Graf - driver #6 Muscle Milk HPD ARX-03c: "It's a great day for Muscle Milk Pickett Racing winning a second Championship in a row and six wins in a row this year. It's very rewarding. We were never able to win this race before so it's a good day.
"The guys did a great job. Since last year at this race we haven't had a mechanical failure at Muscle Milk Pickett Racing and I think that speaks for our organization around Greg Pickett. We have great engineering, great mechanics and a great team to drive for. Whatever the future holds, I think we will bring a good package and have a lot of fun.
"It was a very bizarre race. I've been doing this a long time and I've never seen anything like it. I feel really sorry for all the damaged cars. The first start, to me, was an absolute disaster.
The rule book and in the drivers meeting, the information was very clear, that we go side by side through the chicane and that he wanted three rows past the chicane and then after the railway tracks we go and that's exactly what I did. The car next to me didn't do that at all. He went in the chicane, accelerated, the left lane went, the right lane couldn't go and that created a disaster.
"I think it's really bad for the series. I feel sorry for fans but we drive by the rules. We drive very hard, we compete very hard but by the rules and that's what we did."
Lucas Luhr - driver #6 Muscle Milk HPD ARX-03c: "As Klaus mentioned, it was a very, good day for us with a second Championship in a row for Muscle Milk Pickett Racing. We struggled here a little bit in the past but today it was finally our day to win the race and the Championship on top of it.
"In regards to the race, I'm not quite sure what is the purpose of having qualifying if the pole sitter doesn't have the priority to go first. In every other race series in the world it's like that. As the pole man you have the priority to accelerate first otherwise there is absolutely no reason to do a qualifying. We've had issues like this in the past but nothing has ever been done against it and unfortunately today we saw what happens when no one takes action.
"It's always good to have a fight and we never questioned that. If it is a fair fight both Klaus and I and the whole team are able to take it but it has to played by the rules."