Close finishes - The norm at Road America

#16 Dyson Racing Team Inc. Lola B12/60 Mazda: Chris Dyson, Guy Smith
#16 Dyson Racing Team Inc. Lola B12/60 Mazda: Chris Dyson, Guy Smith

Photo by: Richard Sloop

If anyone has uttered a discouraging word about Road America, Guy Smith hasn’t heard it. And it’s likely he never will. Praise for the historic circuit in Elkhart Lake, Wis., flows effusively from all who have driven it. Smith, Dyson Racing’s British ace, is one of those.

“There is nothing you can find fault with at Road America,” he said. “It has long straights, fast sweeping corners, hard braking, undulation… everything you want. I think if you started with a clean sheet of paper to design a race track, you wouldn’t finish too far away from what Road America is.”

The 4.048-mile, 14-turn circuit has a habit of producing close finishes in ALMS races. No team since 2005 has won an ALMS race at Road America by more than 3.239 seconds. The average margin of victory for the last seven events is 1.358 seconds.

Of course, that includes last year’s 0.112-second win for Klaus Graf and Lucas Luhr over Smith and Chris Dyson. The 2010 race was no slouch either – Jonny Cocker passed Graf with two corners left on the last lap and won by 1.051 seconds. In 2009, the finish between Patrón Highcroft Racing and de Ferran Motorsports was just 0.461 seconds.

#6 Muscle Milk Pickett Racing HPD ARX-03a: Lucas Luhr, Klaus Graf
#6 Muscle Milk Pickett Racing HPD ARX-03a: Lucas Luhr, Klaus Graf

Photo by: Darren Pierson

The close competition isn’t limited to prototypes. The top nine GT cars in 2010 finished on the lead lap, and eight were on the lead lap after last year’s race.

Why the closeness? Smith offers a couple of ideas.

“The last two years arguably have been two of the best races in ALMS,” he said. “The nature of the track promotes close racing and finishes. Traffic is important but at least in prototype cars it’s not a dominant factor. Because of the long straights and fast sections, you can deal with it. If your car isn’t quite there, you can’t make up a difference because it’s so long and fast. You can test yourself around Road America.”

The Road America Road Race Showcase is the seventh round of the 2012 American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón. The four-hour race is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. CT on Saturday, Aug. 18.

Source: American Le Mans

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About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers Guy Smith , Klaus Graf , Lucas Luhr , Chris Dyson , Jonny Cocker
Teams Muscle Milk Pickett Racing , Dyson Racing
Article type Preview
Tags alms, dyson, graf, luhr, road america, smith