Road Atlanta II: Petersen/White Lightning preview

Petersen/ White Lightning "Focus On Now" Philosophy Meeting Goals Entering Petit BRASELTON, Ga., Sept. 26, 2005 -- As the 2005 American Le Mans Series (ALMS) season nears its conclusion, the battles for the GT2 team and driver championships...

Petersen/ White Lightning "Focus On Now" Philosophy Meeting Goals Entering Petit

BRASELTON, Ga., Sept. 26, 2005 -- As the 2005 American Le Mans Series (ALMS) season nears its conclusion, the battles for the GT2 team and driver championships are closer than at any time in recent memory. The distractions for category leading Petersen Motorsports/ White Lightning Racing can be overwhelming. However, team principals Michael Petersen (Las Vegas) and Dale White (Las Vegas) implemented a policy of "Focus On Now" at the start of the season to lessen the distractions. As its name implies, the policy is to concentrate the team's attention on the present and on controllable variables, not racing for championship points. Nowhere is the team's philosophy more important than entering Saturday's 10 hour or 1,000 mile Petit Le Mans here at Road Atlanta. With the pressure of one of the biggest racing events in the world -- the only endurance sports car race not already won by the team -- added to the pressure of winning the team's first ALMS title, the Siren song to look beyond the Eighth Annual Petit Le Mans is an easy trap to fall into. The No. 31 Westward Ho Casino/ MMPIE/ PAWS/ Michelin Porsche 911 GT3 RSR is staying the course of racing for victories in the final two races of the season as a means to winning the championship. Victories in the previous two events- Road America and Mosport- have proven the strength of the concept. Drivers Jorg Bergmeister (Langenfeld, Germany) and Patrick Long (Las Vegas) will be joined at the 2.54-mile, 12-turn Road Atlanta facility for Saturday's Petit Le Mans by 2003-2004 team driver Craig Stanton (Long Beach, Calif.).

Entering this weekend's race, the Michael Petersen-owned team has won three times in 2005; Sebring, Road America and Mosport. They have earned seven podium finishes in eight ALMS starts, eight podiums including a second-place at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and have been awarded the IMSA Cup seven times. They have seen the green flag fall from the GT2 class front-row in all eight ALMS races. In the April race here, the second of ten races, the Petersen/ White Lightning Porsche qualified second and finished third. Last year, they finished third after starting ninth in the Petit Le Mans Grand Touring (GT) field.

Ultimately, the Petit Le Mans and the championship will come down to preparation and race performance both in the pits and on the track. Thus far, led by crew chief Stefan Pfeiffer (Croatia) and lead technician Dennis Chizma (Seattle, Wash.), the team has set the standard in ALMS pit stops. When added to an impressive career "running at the finish" rate of 89%, increased to 91% in the team's 11 career endurance races of four hours or more in length, the signs point in the right direction for success. Despite the success, the tight-knit group of 14 is staying focused on the race-by-race objectives set by Petersen and White.

The Petit Le Mans can be seen live on SPEED, Saturday, October 1 beginning 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


Dale White, team manager: "The logistical preparations are done and all we have to worry about is what is happening now. We aren't thinking about what we have to do to win the title. We are focused on what we have to do to win these last two races, one race at a time. The rest will take care of itself. Petit is one of the big races we haven't won as a team and we want that. That's where our focus is. Every person on this team is working together for that one goal."

Jorg Bergmeister, driver: "For sure we need to push. We can't just go and drive. If the 23 car is winning we need to finish at least second so we need to push for it. So far we have not had any problems in the longer races. Sebring and Le Mans the car was really durable. I think the team is doing a really great job prepping the car and I don't see any reason that will change during the last two races. I'd like to win Petit three times in a row. We need to go out and do the same thing we did all year long. I think if you change the strategy the last two races it will bite you."

Patrick Long, driver: "Petit is going to be an interesting battle. It's a very difficult race. It's right up there with Sebring, second to Le Mans, for difficulty. Preparation, drivers and, obviously, the car are going to be key. Wins are the absolute goal. But, now that this is back into the endurance part of the season, we have to apply some of our Le Mans strategy. One of the team's strengths all year has been pit stops. We have ten hours of pit stops coming up and that gives us an even greater advantage. I am looking forward to driving in the same car with Craig. He is a great addition to the team. We've raced hard against one-another the last two seasons and kept a friendship and I think this should only make it stronger. It'll be a great experience."

Craig Stanton, driver: "I can't wait to get to Petit and be involved in the inner-workings of Petersen/ White Lightning again. I am there to support the team, to help them win the championship. I'm really optimistic about this week. I've had some really good success at Petit, especially with Petersen Motorsports/ White Lightning Racing. I've had a really good year in other arenas and to bring that expertise to the team is my job. I'm really looking forward to a rewarding weekend driving with Jorg and Patrick and working with each individual team member. We were in the trenches together for two years and we have some strong bonds that have been developed over that time. I'm really, really excited about being back here for this race."

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About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers Jörg Bergmeister , Patrick Long , Craig Stanton , Michael Petersen