Long Beach, CA - Muscle Milk Pickett Racing with drivers Lucas Luhr and Klaus Graf achieved another hat trick, on Saturday afternoon, this time it was on the streets of Long Beach, California, where the team has now won the last three races.
Previously, Luhr, who had started the race, had made his way up to second place by passing the #16 car of Chris Dyson on the second lap. After which he started catching up to Neel Jani in first, all while starting to save fuel.
Once the action went back to green flag racing, Graf was third in class. The German then made his way up to second when the Dyson car fell out of the race a few laps later.
It was soon thereafter that the Pickett Racing team picked up the lead under another full course yellow.
Graf entered pit lane right behind the Rebellion car about one hour into the two-hour event, for fuel only, since the Michelin street soft tires were holding up extremely well. Having come in for fuel under the first yellow, the team only had to do a short fill, which allowed them to take the lead in class upon exiting the pits.
Klaus on track at Long Beach It was then with about 47 minutes to go that Graf took the overall lead and never looked back. All while saving fuel to make it to the end, the driver of the #6 Muscle Milk HPD ARX-03a continuously kept building a lead on the #12 Rebellion car. So much so, that by the time the checkered flag fell the lead was 36.3 seconds.
The win was the first of the season for Muscle Milk Pickett Racing, a record-setting third in a row in Long Beach and the fourth win on the California streets for Lucas Luhr. The victory was also the 42nd of his ALMS career, which ties Luhr for most wins overall with Olivier Beretta.
With today's result, the Muscle Milk squad is now tied for first in the provisional Championship standings with Rebellion Racing.
The California-based team will be back on track in a few weeks time for their home race at Laguna Seca on May 11.
Lucas Luhr - driver #6 Muscle Milk HPD ARX-03a: "We went down the wrong road a little bit yesterday but today within five laps of the start we went half of a second quicker than in qualifying so I knew from the start that we had a really good car. I was confident we could find some speed but with Rebellion and Dyson being so strong, we didn't know how close we'd be.
"On the second lap I got by Chris (Dyson) and then I was able to stay with Jani and start to save fuel. We had our strategy and the one set of Michelin Street soft tires that we used in the race did great. At the start of the race I think I was a little bit quicker than the Rebellion car up front.
"I think overall we did everything well and we had the right strategy. Everybody did a heck of a job. Klaus drove well as always and that makes three in a row for us, it's awesome.
"(On tying for the most wins) It's great! Hopefully I can overtake him during the season and become the driver with the most wins in the ALMS in what is its last season, as we know. It would be great for me."
Klaus Graf - driver #6 Muscle Milk HPD ARX-03a: "We 100% had the right strategy today. We used the first yellow, which was just above the minimum driving time for Lucas to come in and do our driver change.
I drove the majority of the race but it was the right call because of the way the race unfolded. We had talked about it before and it worked.
The guys did a great job once again, they did an awesome job between qualifying yesterday and the race today to improve the car. We were not happy yesterday but the car was very, very good today.
"I have to say the Michelin street soft tires performed extremely well and we ran the whole race on the same set of tires.
"Lucas and I have now won this race three times in a row and it's a great day for everyone at Muscle Milk Pickett Racing, HPD and Michelin. I'm very proud of everybody."