Leitzinger ranks 2003 Sears Point win as career highlight

Leitzinger Ranks Last Year's Upset Win at Infineon Raceway as Career Highlight Braselton, GA - It was a case of David beating Goliath and ranks as one of the most unexpected wins in the history of sports car racing. And one of the drivers...

Leitzinger Ranks Last Year's Upset Win at Infineon Raceway as Career Highlight

Braselton, GA - It was a case of David beating Goliath and ranks as one of the most unexpected wins in the history of sports car racing. And one of the drivers involved ranks it as one of the greatest things that has happened in his stellar career.

One year ago, the Dyson Racing Team made history when drivers James Weaver and Butch Leitzinger co-drove to overall victory in the American Le Mans Series Infineon Grand Prix of Sonoma at California's Infineon Raceway. The win was not only the first overall race win in the ALMS for the small but successful racing team from Poughkeepsie, N.Y., it was also the first overall race win in ALMS history for a car that wasn't from the top Prototype class.

Weaver, Leitzinger and the Dyson team will be back at Infineon Raceway to try for two consecutive wins at the 2.53-mile road racing circuit when the American Le Mans Series makes its annual Sonoma stop July 16-18. NASCAR star Dale Earnhardt, Jr., will be making his first-ever start in the ALMS when he drives for the factory Corvette team in the GTS class in the event.

In last year's event, the Dyson team's Lola EX257-AER/MG Prototype was classified in the lower of two Prototype classes in the ALMS. Therefore, the Sonoma win over two powerful Audi R8s in the top Prototype class was made even more significant. This year, the Lola EX257 was elevated to the LMP1 class and now competes head-to-head for race wins with the Audi, one of the most successful sports cars in history.

"That win at Infineon certainly has to be one of the top highlights of your career," said Leitzinger, of State College, Penn. "To be able to race against the Audi teams which are so well organized, and the cars are so fantastic. Four our group, the reason we race is that we want to be the best and compete against the best.

"The teams we raced that day, the Champion and Joest Audi teams, were the best at that time," he said. "It really gives you a good feeling when you can come out on top in a situation like that.

"After the race it was such a great euphoric feeling," he said. "It's a horrible cliche, but it didn't really sink it; you just had this kind of vague feeling of happiness for a few hours after the race. It's not until you put your head down that night or when you wake up the next morning that it just kind of sinks in to the inner part of you where you really feel happy."

Prior to last year's event at Sonoma, the Dyson team knew that it had a chance of beating the Audis, based on what it knew about the characteristics of its car and the knowledge it had gained from many years of racing at the circuit.

"The track layout being a series of left-right turns the entire way, there's not really a straight there that's worth a name," Leitzinger said. "It really suits the car. This car just launches from turn to turn, it explodes from one turn to the next, and on top of that there's just some of our knowledge there. And the Goodyear tires we've developed seem to work very well at that track."

The Dyson team has finished second overall to the ADT Champion Audi of Marco Werner and JJ Lehto in two straight ALMS events heading into the Infineon Grand Prix of Sonoma, and it was Werner that Weaver passed with only minutes remaining in last year's race and went on to victory.

"However much that track might suit us, the Audi is always going to be in the thick of it," Leitzinger said. "You can never count them out nor should you because they're actually probably the favorite wherever they go, with their history and level of preparation. But at Infineon we're really going to be giving them all they can handle."

The Infineon Grand Prix of Sonoma will get the green flag at 11:00 a.m. (PDT) on Sunday, July 18, and will be televised live in North America by CBS Sports and in Europe on MotorsTV. The American Le Mans Series Radio Web will have live coverage online at www.americanlemans.com.

Practice and qualifying for the event will be held on Saturday, July 17, along with a Fan Forum and an autograph session featuring all ALMS drivers. Ticket information is available online at www.americanlemans.com or by calling (800) 870-RACE.

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About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Butch Leitzinger , Marco Werner , JJ Lehto
Teams Dyson Racing