Alex Job Racing Looking to Duplicate Sebring Success at Long Beach Tavares, Fla., Alex Job Racing (AJR) is taking the momentum from a one-two-three finish at Sebring four weeks ago to the streets of Long Beach for the American Le Mans Series...
Alex Job Racing Looking to Duplicate Sebring Success at Long Beach
Tavares, Fla., Alex Job Racing (AJR) is taking the momentum from a one-two-three finish at Sebring four weeks ago to the streets of Long Beach for the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) presented by Tequila Patron Long Beach Grand Prix to be run on April 17.
AJR three cars The team is coming off of their Sebring hat-trick where the three GTC class entries from AJR took all three steps on the podium. The finish, though impressive, also means that the three cars are one-two-three in the points standings in GTC as the season really gets underway.
The Long Beach street circuit which surrounds the Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific and the Long Beach Convention Center has the distinction of being the longest operating temporary street circuit in the country. The first race on the 1.9-mile, 11-turn circuit was March 26, 1977 when Mario Andretti out dueled Niki Lauda and Jody Scheckter to become the first American to win a Formula 1 race in a U.S. Grand Prix. The track holds a lot of history and will see a weekend race crowd of over 100,000 witness the world's top racing drivers battle on a track that is outlined by six ton concrete barriers keeping the action contained and the anxiety for drivers high. This race also represents the shortest of the season for the ALMS competitors, just 100-minutes.
In the No. 81 Mission Foods/Alex Job Racing/Porsche GT3 911 Cup car driven by Juan Gonzalez (Mexico City, Mexico) and Butch Leitzinger (Rebersburg, PA) who will be looking for a second win in as many races. The duo knows that the Long Beach track features some unique challenges.
J. Gonzalez "It is a big difference between the racing space at Sebring and at Long Beach, Juan Gonzalez said. "The concentration and the challenge is the same, the only thing is we need to keep the four wheels in the track and the car away from the concrete walls, while fighting with the traffic. As strategy, Butch is going to drive the first hour and Juan Gonzalez the rest, I hope this work for the team. We will use Butch's experience for him to qualify and I will try to learn and do my best and hope for good luck."
Leitzinger "Long Beach requires a different mindset than Sebring," Leitzinger said. "For Sebring our chief concern was being sympathetic to the car. For Long Beach we will be trying to wring its neck. With only 100 minutes of racing, there is very little strategy involved. The race boils down to speed. There is the added difficulty of racing on a temporary circuit, and with that the unforgiving nature of the walls that surround it. Juan has never raced at Long Beach before, so he will get the lion's share of the practice time, so that he may get familiar with the layout. With so little time to practice, and the inevitable red-flags that will come during the sessions, track time will be at a premium."
The No. 23 Battery Tender/Tequila Patron/Alex Job Racing/Porsche 911 GT3 Cup entry will see Bill Sweedler (New York, New York) and Romeo Kapudija (Chicago, Illinois) try and parlay their second place finish at Sebring into another great points paying - or winning weekend.
Kapudija "I have driven at Long Beach in the past and it's a track where you must drive fast, but somewhat cautiously in order to keep the car off the walls," Kapudija said. "Key to going fast at Long Beach is knowing where the bumps are and driving hard into the brake zones. Being that the race is only 100 minutes long means we as drivers must drive hard and keep the car upfront. If you want to finish on the podium, there is no room for mistakes in such a short race, either by the crew in pit lane or by us drivers on the track. We have such limited track time we need to adapt to the track conditions and layout very quickly. We will have to learn as much about the track and get the car set-up as fast as possible. I am fortunate enough to have driven there in the past and remember the track fairly well, even though it's been over 10 years since I last drove there. My teammate (Bill Sweedler) has been driving a simulator at home that has the Long Beach track layout for a couple of weeks now, so between the two of us I think we will be up to speed right away."
Sweedler "At Sebring you are able to drop a tire or half-tire off of the track into the grass," Sweedler said. "At Long Beach, there is no margin for error, you forget about the green and run it right up to the wall. Long Beach will be a true sprint. We will have to drive ten-tenths the whole time. On the street course you have to be so precise. With limited track time we will have to be completely honed in to the track from the start of practice. We will have to make the most of every minute and second on the track. I can't wait to race at that great event."
Luis Diaz (Mexico City) and Ricardo Gonzalez (Mexico City) are ready to put their No. 80 Car Amigo/Alex Job Racing/Porsche 911 GT3 Cup through the paces in Long Beach. The Mexican pair is coming in with a lot of motivation, Diaz won in the P2 class there last year.
Diaz "I'm really looking forward to Long Beach, it's a first class event with great fans and the track allows for great racing," Diaz said. "After Sebring we are very confident that we can be right up there this weekend. I won there last year and our goal is to be at the top of the podium this year again. Even though I've driven the track many times it will still be a big challenge this year as I've never driven the GTC cars on a street course. Both Ricardo and I will have to make the most of the practice sessions and quickly identify what the car needs to go fast. Overall we are very confident, what better way to come into a race than after having the Alex Job Racing team sweep the podium at Sebring, we have everything we need to go win at Long Beach."
R. Gonzalez "After our podium finish at Sebring we are feeling very confident, it was an impressive team effort and a great way to start off the season and the championship," Ricardo Gonzalez said. "I've been to Long Beach many times but this will be the first time that I actually get to race there. In fact it will be the first time I will race at a street course, so that just adds to the excitement. Even though we had very limited off season testing, both Luis and I had a lot of seat time at Sebring so we are pretty comfortable with the car. Now it's just a matter of getting up to speed quickly and working on the set-up of the car."
Team owner Alex Job has his team and cars ready for the shortest race on the schedule.
Job "Long Beach is the shortest race on the schedule, but one of the most challenging," Job said. "The condensed schedule allows for very little track time on a track that demands a lot of concentration. We have experience and this track and we have a good baseline set-up from which to start. We have the top three spots in both driver and team points in GTC, but this race can really alter that ranking. The guys will have to have controlled aggression and really be up on the wheel the entire time they are on the track. Pit stops will really be a premium as track position is everything."
The race will be televised live on the SPEED Channel starting at 8:00 p.m. ET, Saturday, April 17. Live coverage will also be available on American Le Mans Radio, as well as Sirius Channel 127 and XM Channel 245. Live Timing and Scoring, track schedule, entry list and much more is available at www.americanlemans.com.