Alex Job Racing's Gonzalez and Leitzinger Win Long Beach GTC Long Beach, Calif., Alex Job Racing's (AJR) Juan Gonzalez and Butch Leitzinger won the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) presented by Tequila Patron Long Beach Grand Prix. The duo...
Alex Job Racing's Gonzalez and Leitzinger Win Long Beach GTC
Long Beach, Calif., Alex Job Racing's (AJR) Juan Gonzalez and Butch Leitzinger won the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) presented by Tequila Patron Long Beach Grand Prix. The duo posted their second win in as many races in the GTC class. Teammates Romeo Kapudija and Bill Sweedler came home third.
Whether running for 12-hours at Sebring or 100-minutes at Long Beach Juan Gonzalez and Butch Leitzinger were able to back-up their Florida win with one in California. The winning moment of the race, unfortunately, was the losing moment for their teammates Kapudija and Sweedler. Sweedler put the No. 23 Battery Tender/Tequila Patron/Alex Job Racing/Porsche 911 GT3 Cup in the lead in GTC on lap 21. He then proceeded to lead the GTC race right up to pit stops on lap 37. The AJR crew was able to get Kapudija out still with the lead, which he held up until four-minutes to go in the race. The Chicago resident got into some debris on the track into Turn Five and spun. This allowed Leitzinger to pass for the lead and the win.
AJR LB Podium 2 For Leitzinger and Juan Gonzalez it is there second win in the No. 81 Mission Foods/Alex Job Racing/Porsche GT3 911 Cup car, making the season, so far perfect.
"The Alex Job team really prepares a great car," Juan Gonzalez said. "The start of the race was a real challenge. There were yellow flags and everyone was taking chances. There was also water on the track from a competitor's radiator. I was able to keep a steady pace and was in touch with the leaders - Butch was able to do the rest. It was another great team win for the 81 Mission Foods guys."
"We had a great race going with four cars at the front of the GTC field," Leitzinger said. "Romeo was leading in the 23 car and he got caught out in the marbles in Turn Five, which is easy to do. He had a spin and I was able to drive by. I feel for him, those guys ran a great race. It was one of those times when I thought to myself, this is really awesome. I was in the middle of a great four car race, with the faster class cars passing us, we were all trying to take advantage of how we could use the faster cars to get around the next guy. The race was a blast. I had a great time!"
Bill Sweedler started the No. 23 Battery Tender/Tequila Patron/Alex Job Racing/Porsche 911 GT3 Cup entry. He was able to improve on the team's fourth place qualifying effort to lead race by lap 21. Teammate Kapudija then led, spinning with just a handful of laps remaining, settling for third.
"I was pushing really hard to keep the lead," Kapudija said. "The team put together a phenomenal car. Unfortunately I got into the marbles and looped it around. I was able to keep it off the wall, recover and finish in third. Bill had a great start and motored up into the lead. We have had two strong podium finishes in two races. The Battery Tender/Tequila Patron team is for real!"
"We had a great race for an hour-thirty-six-and-a-half minutes," Sweedler said. "The start was crazy. One of the cars in front of us dropped back and that cost me some time. It took longer than I had hoped to get to the front. Romeo did a great job holding off Butch. Butch is a seasoned sportscar veteran with a lot of miles at this track. My hat is off to the Mission Foods team. The Tequila Patron/Battery Tender car was hooked-up. The track was slick with a lot of debris, but we had a good car. It would have been nice to be first and on top of the podium, but it wasn't meant to be here."
A tough start to the weekend for Luis Diaz and Ricardo Gonzalez in the No. 80 Car Amigo/Alex Job Racing/Porsche 911 GT3 Cup continued into the race. The first practice of the weekend on Friday had the car in the wall. With only a handful of laps, Diaz qualified ninth. At the start of the race Diaz was able to drive through the field to run as high as third. During the pit stop, Ricardo Gonzales took over and upon his return to the track he felt a vibration necessitating another trip down pit road. As he rejoined he had to come back in a third time, under green, to serve a pit exit violation penalty which relegated the team to a seventh place finish.
"From the first lap I could feel that there was something strange with the car but I just kept going and with some luck and a few passes we managed to climb all the way up to third," Diaz said. "We had very limited practice time so we weren't sure what to expect but we obviously proved that no matter what we can be up there fighting. Unfortunately when Ricardo got in the car the problem kept getting worse to the point that he thought there was a tire coming loose so he came in to have it checked and that cost us valuable time, then to make things worse we got a stop and go penalty plus 60-seconds. But overall we are pretty happy because these were probably the worst conditions you could have in a race weekend, no practice time and a damaged car in the race and still we were able to run at the front and its only a matter of time until we win."
"Luis did a great job climbing through the field, as soon as I got in the car I felt a very heavy vibration and the steering wheel was askew," Ricardo Gonzalez said. "It felt very serious so I radioed that I was coming in the pits to have it checked. It turned out that we had a bad shock and I just had to deal with it for the rest of the race, it was uncomfortable to drive but I am very happy with my speed and my consistency. Even with all the problems and with the lack of practice we were right on pace with the leaders and I felt very comfortable. We need to work on a few things but I believe we have a very strong package between Luis and me and the Alex Job Racing/Car Amigo/IDN Porsche and we'll go to Laguna with only one goal which is to win."
Team owner Alex Job celebrated another great finish with a win and a third.
"What a day," Job said. "Juan and Butch are proving to be a very mature and consistent duo that make winning look a little easy. Bill and Romeo did a great job. They were fast all weekend and were in a great position to win, but came up four-minutes short. Luis and Ricardo had a tough weekend. Limited track time and the shock issue really hurt their chances. Luis showed great speed to get the car up to third, so the potential is there as well."
Round three of the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) presented by Tequila Patron will be run at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on May 22.