Michael Schein had an up and down weekend in the No. 21 Alex Job Racing Porsche 997 IMSA Patron GT3 Challenge Series presented by Patron car at Road Atlanta this weekend. The young New Yorker won the outright pole in qualifying to start the first...
Michael Schein had an up and down weekend in the No. 21 Alex Job Racing Porsche 997 IMSA Patron GT3 Challenge Series presented by Patron car at Road Atlanta this weekend. The young New Yorker won the outright pole in qualifying to start the first race on Thursday.
Schein missed the first practice day on Tuesday, but together with the team was able to get up to speed quickly on Wednesday. In Thursday's 40-minute qualifying session, the series officials declared it wet, having all competitors run on Yokohama rain tires. Early in the 30-minute session Schein locked up the brakes going into Turn Ten and put the No. 21 into the gravel. After being extracted and through quick work by the AJR crew, Schein rejoined the fray and on his very last lap went from fifth on the timing screen to pole. The time of 1:35.103 is particularly impressive considering the changing track conditions from wet to dry.
"I couldn't attend the Tuesday practice day so we came in Wednesday a little behind the rest of the field," Schein said. "Practice started out really well. I was here about three years ago, so I know the layout of the track. After the first practice session I was only a second off of the fast guys. In the second session the track lost some grip. We put on new tires and I couldn't best my morning time, a little frustrating."
"In qualifying the track continued to dry as the seconds ticked off. We knew the quick time would come at the very end. Mid-way through the session I was getting a bit too comfortable and locked up the front tires coming into Turn Ten and slid into the gravel. We got it back out there and the last lap of the session I was able to put in the pole time. In the dry there is some more time out there for me, but we got everything out of the tires in the wet."
The first race had the Patron Cup competitors start the race on Yokohama wet tires. Schein took up point and led the first five laps until he went off line in Turn Three, returning to the fray in fifth. On lap eight running near one-second faster lap times than the field on his wet tires the New Yorker moved up to fourth as the track dried. On lap 12 the race director stopped the event and allowed the teams to put on slick tires for the remaining 14-minutes of the race. Schein was running fast laps in fourth when he entered Turn Seven and lost power, the result of an alternator belt coming off. Schein had to pull off of the track and was classified in 18th.
"I am good in the wet," Schein said. "I worked up a nice gap early. Then I over shot the third corner and looped the car. I rejoined in fifth and was able to pass for fourth. We came in to put on the dry tires and were looking forward to a possible podium finish. Then with about three laps to go I had the alternator belt brake and I lost all power and that was it."
In the season finale today, Schein started from the seventh position on the grid, as a result of his fastest lap time from the first race. Getting a slow start, Schein used the attrition of the cars in front of him to make his way to second. On lap 18 he put two wheels off outside the fast Turn One and hit a hole, which resulted in the radiator being cracked and ending his day early.
"Unfortunately I screwed up coming into Turn One," Schein said. "I put two wheels off and slammed down pretty hard and cracked the radiator and that was the end of my day. The car was great. I was running quick and consistent laps. The race was coming back to me, everyone was going off. The podium was looking almost certain. I was up in second and then the race had a late caution which would have put me in a position to win. You have to finish first and I didn't do that today."
Alex Job, team owner, had another up and down weekend with the 21 car.
"Michael did a great job to win the pole in tough conditions on wet tires Thursday," Job said. "In the first race he had a nice gap early and then spun going into Turn Three. He gathered it up and then the field pitted for dry tires and he was able to make-up a position. We then had a mechanical issue with an alternator belt that parked him with three laps to go. In the second race he was in a great position to post a top finish or even a win. He has great raw speed, we just need to work on his race craft a little and the wins will come very fast."
Alex Job Racing is one of the most successful teams in IMSA history with 37 wins (54 in team history). This record is supported by 45 pole positions and 75 podium finishes. The team has won three championships (GT in 2002, 2003 and 2004) complimented by their two GT class wins at Le Mans. The team also boasts seven Sebring 12 hour wins.