Petersen/ White Lightning Strongest with Endurance Races BRASELTON,Ga., Sept. 20, 2004 -- The 2004 American Le Mans Series (ALMS) opened with a 12 hour endurance race at Sebring International Raceway, Petersen Motorsports/ White Lightning ...
Petersen/ White Lightning Strongest with Endurance Races
BRASELTON,Ga., Sept. 20, 2004 -- The 2004 American Le Mans Series (ALMS) opened with a 12 hour endurance race at Sebring International Raceway, Petersen Motorsports/ White Lightning Racing finished third in GT class. The Michael Petersen-owned race team then went to Europe to take on the grandfather of all sports car races, the 24 Hours of Le Mans. They won the pole position and the race. After a season of two hour and 45-minute sprint races, where the No. 31 Westward Ho Casino/ MMPIE/ PAWS/ Michelin Porsche 911 GT3 RSR has finished on the GT podium in five of seven races, the year closes with two endurance races. It is at these races, starting with Saturday's Petit Le Mans, of four hours or longer where the Las Vegas-based race team feels most at home. With the endurance racing prowess of David Murry (Cumming, Ga.) and Craig Stanton (Long Beach, Calif.) behind the wheel, the team is feeling strong about its chances in the final two races.
Murry, who considers the 2.54- mile Road Atlanta his home track, not only got his early start here, he also saw his first sports car race here. Stanton, who has gained increasing attention for his expert driving in the Petersen Porsche over the course of the past two seasons, sees the North Georgia track as a perfect fit to his style. All combined the Petersen/ White Lightning effort sees the September 25th Petit Le Mans as the best place to take their first ALMS win of the season.
The Petit Le Mans is the first of the two sports car races that will settle the ultra-competitive battles for the GT class driver title, team championship and season-long IMSA Cup award. The ten-hour or 1,000 mile event will start in daylight and end after dark, as will the season-finale four-hour Fry's Electronics Sports Car Championships at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on October 16th. While all teams in the ALMS are endurance racing teams, the White Lightning Racing-prepared Porsche has a background rooted in the grueling off-road world of desert racing giving them a competitive edge. After winning over 50 off-road races and four-straight Baja 1000 and 500 victories (including three overall wins each), Petersen/ White Lightning knows about making a race vehicle last. The team moved into sports car racing from the desert and continued to rack-up GT endurance wins at Le Mans, Watkins Glen, Daytona and ALMS podiums at Sebring and in the Petit Le Mans.
In the 2004 season championship chase the No. 31 and its drivers are still eligible for the three GT titles. The Westward Ho Casino Porsche is second in the GT IMSA Cup-- an award given to the highest finishing privateer team in each class-- with 49 points available in the remaining two races. A victory at Petit could move the team into the category lead. In the GT team championship chase, Petersen/ White Lightning is currently ranked third with 86 points. A win at Petit would bring 26 markers and could push the team to second, 23 points out of the lead. Murry and Stanton are tied for fourth in the driver's championship standings and can move to within one of the lead by winning at Petit.
Dale White, team manager: "We feel that the team is really in its elements with these last two races. Road Atlanta and Laguna Seca have always been good tracks for us. When Mike and I set our goals for the team, wins are at the top of the list and then the championship. Wins at certain races mean even more and Petit is one of those races. After Road America the whole crew was figuring out what we could do to move-up one more spot. Here they are at the podium celebrating second-place and all anyone could think of was what to do for Petit to make us even faster. That shows the focus this race team has right now. We want to show ourselves as the best team running a Porsche anywhere in the world."
David Murry: "The best part of racing at home is sleeping in my own bed. And while it's terrific to have so many friends and family coming out to the race, it's difficult trying to spend time with everyone. I think having so many laps at a track helps when it comes to adverse situations where you drive off-line. I think that helped me pass for the GT lead here last year when a car spun exiting turn-five. Road Atlanta is very tough for GT cars because the prototypes are so much faster than us in the high-speed corners. That is almost every corner here! It puts pressure on the P1 cars to get around us before they have to follow us through the 'Esses' or another series of turns."
Craig Stanton: "I'm really looking forward to running with Petersen Motorsports/ White Lightning Racing and David at Petit Le Mans. I like what we've accomplished as a team in the last three or four races. The Petit is always a great race and there are a lot of new cars being added to every class. But, just like all season, the best competition is going to be in GT class. I think it will be the best GT class in Petit history. It's going to be an all-out sprint. You can't hold back for second. I've been working really hard. Everything I've been doing the last month and a half has been focused on being successful at Petit. I said right after Sebring that it would probably be the last time you'd ever see just two drivers compete there again. I think you can say the same here. David and I may be the last to try it. The competition is just so good you have to drive every stint like it was a full race, none-stop, start to finish."
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