Petersen/ White Lightning Announces Stanton as Third for Petit Le Mans LAS VEGAS, Nev., September 15, 2005 -- Petersen Motorsports/ White Lightning Racing didn't have to look very far when they began the search for the third driver to race...
Petersen/ White Lightning Announces Stanton as Third for Petit Le Mans
LAS VEGAS, Nev., September 15, 2005 -- Petersen Motorsports/ White Lightning Racing didn't have to look very far when they began the search for the third driver to race the No. 31 Westward Ho Casino/ MMPIE/ PAWS/ Michelin Porsche 911 GT3 RSR at the upcoming Petit Le Mans. The GT2 class winning team at the 2005 Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring-- the only American Le Mans Series (ALMS) endurance race held thus far this season-- has called on 2003 and 2004 team driver Craig Stanton (Long Beach, Calif.) as its third pilot. Stanton, who raced to a podium-finish in the 10 hour or 1,000 mile event last year for the Michael Petersen-owned team, will join regular team drivers Jorg Bergmeister (Langenfeld, Germany) and Patrick Long (Las Vegas, Nev.) for his fifth Petit Le Mans appearance. Braselton, Georgia's Road Atlanta will play host to the race, round nine of ten in the ALMS season, on October 1.
Renowned for his physical fitness and speed, Stanton was a natural fit as Petersen and White looked for a third driver to complement Bergmeister and Long. One of the Stanton's greatest attributes is his ability to work for the best of the team. That will be key as the No. 31 enters the last two events in a nip-and-tuck battle for their first GT2 team championship. Bergmeister and Long currently lead the GT2 driver championship, 12 points ahead of second-place. The Dale White-managed team, which has won the two most recent ALMS races in the class, has a two marker lead in the team championship while also holding the top-spot in the IMSA Cup chase-- awarded to the highest finishing privateer entrant-- by 44. Working to keep the natural balance of the team, Petersen and White anticipate the addition of Stanton-- whose laidback-style off the track masks his aggressive on-track persona-- will go smoothly due to his knowledge and comfort with the internal operation of the team. The trio of drivers has never competed on the same team together but each holds mutual admiration having raced against one-another for several years. The pairing of Bergmeister and Long dates back to the team's second 24 Hours of Le Mans victory in 2004 and includes four race victories and nine podium finishes in ten races.
Stanton raced for the Las Vegas-based organization for two seasons earning both his and the team's first ALMS class victory at Road America in 2003. In all, Stanton, the 2004 runner-up in the prestigious Porsche Cup competition, earned nine podium finishes in his 15 races in the No. 31 Porsche including a third at the Petit Le Mans last season. The native-Californian currently leads the GT point standings in the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series driving a Porsche 911 GT3. Petit Le Mans will mark his first ALMS start of the season.
The Petit Le Mans can be seen live on SPEED, Saturday, October 1st at 11 AM (EDT). Live timing and scoring for all sessions as well as the Petersen Paddock Cam presented by Firetide can be viewed at www.AmericanLeMans.com.
Mike Petersen, owner/ driver: "We're excited to have Craig back as he knows how this team operates. He's going to be a good complement to Jorg and Pat. We're definitely not there to go on cruise control. This race has bonus points and that is what we are shooting for. It's a great opportunity for Craig and we're excited to have him back and look forward to our chances there. It should be a very, very competitive ten hour race."
Dale White, team manager: "This may have been the easiest decision I've ever made in racing. Mike and I discussed who we wanted in the car first. Then we went to Stefan [Pfeiffer, crew chief]. Then we spoke to the team about it. The first name out of everyone's mouth was Craig's. Craig is a major part of the growth of Petersen/ White Lightning that has put us where we are right now. It is a perfect opportunity to pay back a little bit of that. But, in the end, it was a decision based on what we needed, not emotion. We had the choice of a lot of drivers but Craig fits exactly what we need to go for a win at Petit. We needed a driver that was fast, wouldn't make mistakes, that could race with anyone and bring the car home in one piece. Most importantly, we wanted someone that could fit into our team. Craig is a team player. We know he won't come in and disrupt the balance that we have here. He'll contribute to the overall success of this program just as he always has. Everybody on the team is really excited about having Craig racing with us at Petit. He is exactly the piece to the puzzle that we needed."
Craig Stanton, driver: "I am ecstatic that Dale and Mike called me and wanted me to be the third driver for Petersen Motorsports/ White Lightning Racing at Petit. It is quite an honor to be driving with Jorg and Patrick. I want to do my part to help the team towards that championship. I'll be able to blend right back in with the team. The core guys that were there when I was there are still there. It's going to be an easy adjustment for me to take a position back with the team. I'm also really excited about going back to Atlanta in the top-end of development for a Porsche 911 again. Mike and Dale and Stefan have been doing a great job all year guiding the team. They have taken the team to a whole other level than when I was there. I'm excited to be back driving a car they have prepared and being a part of this winning operation again."