Alex Job Racing (AJR) driver Luis Diaz headed the three car AJR GTC brigade in qualifying with a third place effort for tomorrow's running of the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) presented by Tequila Patron Larry H. Miller Dealerships Utah Grand...
Alex Job Racing (AJR) driver Luis Diaz headed the three car AJR GTC brigade in qualifying with a third place effort for tomorrow's running of the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) presented by Tequila Patron Larry H. Miller Dealerships Utah Grand Prix to be run at Miller Motorsports Park. Job's other two entries driven by Romeo Kapudija and Butch Leitzinger posted times that will have them start from the eighth and ninth positions respectively.
AJR 80 Qual. The team took the opportunity to come to the track located just west of Salt Lake City to do some testing that could not be done in the preseason. For Luis Diaz and teammate Ricardo Gonzalez it was just what they needed to get comfortable in their No. 80 Car Amigo/Alex Job Racing/Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car. Diaz posted a qualifying effort that will have the car starting on the second row with a time of 1:54.954.
"I am very happy with this result," Diaz said. "It has been a long time coming and it just goes to show all the hard work that we've put into this project. This has been a difficult year for Ricardo and me. Driving the GTC Porsche has been quite a challenge. Qualifying in the third position makes me very proud because now we know that we are right there at the top and that there is still a lot of potential to continue improving. The race has definitely been our strong point so far. We are confident that we can be fast and consistent tomorrow and fight for the win."
"Luis did a great job today," Ricardo Gonzalez said. "We've been working hard all week on getting the set-up right and today during practice we managed to make some big improvements. This is the first time this year that we were able to test and it has really helped us step up our game. Luis and I have had a strong pace all week and I think that we have a very good shot at winning the race tomorrow. This race will be all about staying out of trouble and keeping a fast rhythm because of the lack of yellows, if we can do that we will be in good shape."
AJR 23 Qual. Romeo Kapudija had the controls of the No. 23 Battery Tender/Tequila Patron/Alex Job Racing/Porsche 911 GT3 Cup entry for qualifying. Kapudija put in a time of 1:55.616, besting the cars fastest practice time by over a second. Kapudija and Bill Sweedler will be looking to strengthen their second place GTC points position in tomorrow's two-hour-and-forty-five-minute race.
"We got here at the beginning of the week and did a lot of laps," Kapudija said. "There was no rubber on the track so it was slow. We worked through some different shock combinations and went right into setup for the race weekend. We had a good car this last practice session. The team did a great job to get the car right. I would have had a really good lap, but I went off a little in one of the corners. I could have improved my time a couple of tenths. We found some good speed today. Bill and I are ready for the race."
"We have a great car," Sweedler said. "We are just a little short on speed right now. We were much faster earlier in the week. I am not sure if it is the heat or grease on the track, we are just off a little. We will have to do it in the race."
AJR 81 Qual. Butch Leitzinger took a wounded No. 81 Mission Foods/Alex Job Racing/Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car out to qualify. Just before the end of the previous practice the team diagnosed a blown seal in the right front shock. With no time to fix it before qualifying, Leitzinger did two laps to post a time of 1:55.838 for a ninth place starting spot. Leitzinger and Juan Gonzalez lead the GTC points standings on the strength of wins at Sebring, Long Beach and a third place at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
"The testing we have done has really paid off this week," Leitzinger said. "We found some things with the car and for us as drivers. Unfortunately right before qualifying we had a shock seal blow, which is a very rare occurrence. We didn't have enough time to change it for qualifying. So I went out and did a couple of laps to put in a time. It is disappointing we could have done a lot better. The key to the race here is that everything has to go perfect. The drivers have to do their job and the pit stops have to be flawless. This place is so long and wide-open that you don't get many yellows. It will be important not to lose time with anything silly. You won't be able to get it back under a yellow. We need to go hard and fast with no mistakes."
"It has been a great week for us," Juan Gonzalez said. "I have never been here before so the track time was really valuable. I have had enough time to get familiar with the track and the car. We were able to try some different set-up options. I love the track. So far I really like driving here. It is too bad what happened for qualifying, but the crew will have the car 100% for the race tomorrow."
Alex Job, team owner, has put his team and drivers through a lot of work this week.
"We have done a lot of work on the cars and the drivers this week," Job said. "Our deals came together right before Sebring so we really didn't have time to test prior to the season opener. We are a little disappointed with qualifying. There is a strange amalgam of cars in this class, different combinations for different year cars and that is showing this weekend. You deal with a lot at this track this time of year, the heat, the dirt being blown on the track, so it really challenges the drivers. We will be ready for the race tomorrow with three strong cars and six strong drivers."