JACKSON, J3 LOOK TO KEEP ROLLING AT SPORTSBOOK.COM GRAND PRIX OF ATLANTA Braselton, Ga. - J3 Racing's Justin Jackson will make his 2005 American Le Mans Series debut at next week's Sportsbook.com Grand Prix of Atlanta. But that's not by choice.
JACKSON, J3 LOOK TO KEEP ROLLING AT SPORTSBOOK.COM GRAND PRIX OF ATLANTA
Braselton, Ga. - J3 Racing's Justin Jackson will make his 2005 American Le Mans Series debut at next week's Sportsbook.com Grand Prix of Atlanta. But that's not by choice. He was crushed when a race-week illness forced him to sit out the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring and J3's second-place finish in GT2, its best showing ever in an ALMS event.
Now Jackson, 31, is feeling fine and ready to get his '05 campaign under way in the Sportsbook.com Grand Prix of Atlanta at Road Atlanta, less than 10 miles from J3's headquarters in Buford, Ga. He will team with Tim Sugden in the No. 79 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR.
"We just need to focus on race week and make sure the car is as good as it can get," Jackson said. "We need to make sure the crew does their job and the drivers do their job. Hopefully everything will go smoothly."
Smoothly is hardly the word Jackson would use to describe his Sebring experience. He caught the flu on the way down and had bronchitis as well. After spending the first couple of days of race week in a hotel room, he finally felt well enough later in the week to go to the track and spend time in the team's motorhome. He even had thoughts about getting on the track late in the race.
"I tried to get in the car about 8 p.m. Saturday," he said. "But the track doctor and nurse saw me and asked me what I thought I was doing."
No need to worry, though. With a combination of pit strategy and the misfortune of a few competitors, Sugden and Nic Jonsson gave J3 and Jackson plenty to cheer about.
"Everybody on the team was ecstatic," Jackson said. "That was our fourth Sebring start and a long overdue podium finish. It was our best finish by far. The guys were partying so hard after the finish that they crashed a golf cart. But nobody was hurt."
He also believes the Sportsbook.com Grand Prix of Atlanta could give J3 Racing another reason to celebrate. In a GT2 category where several teams enjoy factory support, Jackson said anything can happen.
"It's hard to keep motivated not being able to run up front with those guys at every race but we just have to always look forward and try our best," Jackson said. "I believe we are just as optimistic going into Road Atlanta. Since it's our home track, we will look to use that to our advantage."
The Sportsbook.com Grand Prix of Atlanta is scheduled to start at noon April 17. It will be broadcast on CBS from 1-3 p.m., and American Le Mans Series Radio will have live flag-to-flag coverage at www.americanlemans.com. Tickets can be purchased by calling (800) 849-RACE or logging on to www.roadatlanta.com.