Road Atlanta II: The Racer's Group race report

The Racer's Group Finish 4th at Petit Le Mans After a heartbreaking first lap incident which cost the ...

The Racer's Group Finish 4th at Petit Le Mans

After a heartbreaking first lap incident which cost the #66 car nearly two laps, co-drivers Patrick Long, Kevin Buckler and Cort Wagner stormed through the field to capture 4th place at the 6th annual Petit Le Mans. American Porsche Junior driver Patrick Long, making his U.S. endurance-racing debut, drove a brilliant double-stint to end the race in the New Century Mortgage, Monster Cable and Porsche 911 GT3 RS. Long picked up four positions in his final stint, and wrapped up a long, tense chase with the #79 Porsche with a perfect pass for 4th place.

"I feel happy," he said, "it's cool to finish my first endurance race. I found that it's more of an emotional experience to achieve the finish, and to come from behind to do it makes it that much sweeter. I proved to myself that I can handle endurance racing mentally -- once I was in the groove, all the elements fell into place. I've certainly got lots more to learn and more speed to find, but I'm happy to get the job done."

He continued: "I listened closely to what Kevin [Buckler] said about setting up for our race pace, rather than trying to win the practice. My co-drivers and I all ran very consistent :25's. One thing I felt that I had to 'unlearn' was how hard I usually am on equipment. In the Supercup races, it's a sprint, and I have the equipment at my disposal, in endurance races, the health of the equipment is obviously much more important. I did well today -- in order to win a race, you have to finish it first."

Team owner Kevin Buckler summed up the race: "Without the unfortunate contact on the first lap, we would have had a higher finish. Our crew was fantastic out there today, and Cort and Patrick were nothing short of fantastic. We had a bit of bad luck with our other two cars, but I'm proud of the job everyone did."

In car #67, Jeff Zwart made hard contact with a wall in the 4th hour of the race, disabling the car. The left front of the car was heavily damaged, but Zwart was unhurt.

In car #68, a failed motor caused the team's first mechanical DNF of the entire season. Chris Gleason, of Johnstown, PA, piloted the car into the top ten before he felt a sudden lack of power at the end of the high-speed straightaway. "I was running a great stint, and had picked my way back into the top ten, when I came up the hill in turn 10 and the engine suddenly felt sluggish. As I went down the hill and got back on the power, I heard a big pop, and immediately held in the clutch in hopes that the engine wouldn't seize. It was bad luck, but it was a great experience anyways. Over the course of the year, I had some great times and made many great friends. It was terrific to race with my longtime friend Marc Bunting again, and it was a pleasure to get to know our crew -- they're an incredible bunch."

New Century Mortgage CEO Pat Flanagan, in attendance of the Petit Le Mans with 40 of his clients and guests, commented on the race and the season. "It was incredible for our drivers to keep chasing for the whole race. Patrick was absolutely amazing in running down the fast #79 car for a solid 4th place finish. I want to thank The Racer's Group for putting on a good show, and for taking good care of our guests and employees all weekend."

New Century Financial Corporation, a publicly traded Company listed on NASDAQ (ticker symbol "NCEN"), is a leading nationwide specialty mortgage banking company that, through its subsidiary, New Century Mortgage Corporation, originates, purchases, sells and services residential mortgage loans secured primarily by first mortgages on single family residences.

Monster is the world's leading manufacturer of high performance cables for home, car and professional use as well as computers and computer games. Monster Power®, a division of Monster Cable, provides AC power conditioning and protection products as well as a complete line of PowerCells. is a free web-based email application that allows you to pick up and send email from any PC, PDA or Internet-enabled mobile phone. can be used to access all standard POP3 and IMAP4 email accounts worldwide, and is available in 16 different languages.

The Racer's Group is a manufacturer and distributor of high performance Porsche parts, an engine and chassis building and tuning facility, a full service Porsche prep facility, and a professional race team. Additionally, they provide electrical and mechanical engineering services, driver development and "arrive and drive" services. The Racer's Group is based at Infineon Raceway, formerly Sears Point Raceway, in Sonoma, Calif.


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About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers Kevin Buckler , Patrick Long , Chris Gleason , Marc Bunting , Jeff Zwart , Cort Wagner