TRG CONTINUES PODIUM STREAK AT MILLER MOTORSPORTS PARK Continuing the team's impressive run of being on the podium of every professional sportscar race they've run since May, TRG's streak continued with a second place finish during Sunday's...
TRG CONTINUES PODIUM STREAK AT MILLER MOTORSPORTS PARK
Continuing the team's impressive run of being on the podium of every professional sportscar race they've run since May, TRG's streak continued with a second place finish during Sunday's Larry H Miller Dealerships Utah Grand Prix. Following the team's second place finish, combined with the race disqualification of the no. 81, drivers' Henri Richard and Andy Lally have assumed second-place in the driver's championship of the GTC category in the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patron.
Following a fifth place qualifying effort for the no. 63 Freescale Semiconductor/Future Electronics/Green Hills Software/LifeStudio by Hitachi Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car, the blazing July sun of the Utah desert was a key factor in the weekend, with changing track temperatures playing a major effect on car handling and car performance. Following a late night as the crew made a number of pre-race performance adjustments, the team came in to the race with high hopes for the day's sprint race.
Continuing his rookie season in the American Le Mans Series, Henri Richard started the race in fifth, and quickly came up to speed, laying down competitive and consistent laps throughout his stint. With high speed corners and long straights, the Miller Motorsports Park circuit is known for high speed passes and resulting accidents, and this race was no different. The Frenchman drove a solid stint moving up as high as third position and even avoiding a three car incident right in front of him.
Pitting under a timely caution one hour in to the race, Richard handed the car over to Andy Lally, who immediately made work of the field in an effort to catch the leaders. Pulling off a number of quick laps, Lally slowly began to catch the lead cars, eventually leading to a shootout in the pits.
Pitting much later than everyone else, the team decided to minimize the time in the pits by not changing tires and filling with a minimal amount of gas. The strategy appeared to work well, with the no. 63 returning to the track in second, however a slight miscue in the pits during the stop led to the team receiving a "drive through" pit penalty. American Le Mans Series rules require the car's engine to be shut off during refueling, which is different from the GRAND-AM Rolex Series, which does not require this, and the team simply made a mistake and left the engine running. Once serving the penalty, the car fell back to fourth, with Lally fighting hard to get back up to third before the checkered flag fell.
Following the race, post-race inspection determined the second-place no. 81 to be too low, causing disqualification of the team and moving the no. 63 to second in the race, as well as second in the points championship.
For driver Henri Richard, a second straight ALMS podium is encouraging news, and a great sign of the quality of the team.
"I'm very pleased with this podium finish" stated Richard. "The guys did their best all weekend to perfect the set-up, and they did a great job of improving the car every time I got in. I had the pace to deliver best race lap times during my stint and took advantage of every exciting moment during the race to improve our position. Short of a small hiccup in Turn 12, I did my job and delivered an unscathed car to Andy, who did a great job fighting through the field as always. This team is the best in the business and I appreciate the guys putting in such a late night on Saturday to make sure the car was perfect for the race."
For Andy Lally, a solid result is the result of a strong team effort.
"This isn't the way we like to take a second, but it's a strong result and we're hoping to get a win very soon," stated Lally. "The guys worked hard all weekend to get the car right, and I'm pretty pleased with how it came along. Henri drove a great opening stint, which is exactly what we needed. It's great to have a teammate who shows up this prepared and motivated, and I'm glad he's seeing the reward in it. Unfortunately, we made a simple mistake in the pits and it cost us. Every series we run in has different rules during pit stops, and we made a mistake. Ultimately second was about all we could have asked for, but we'll show up to Lime Rock eager for a win."
Finally, for Team Owner Kevin Buckler, the team's move in the championship is a great jump forward.
"TRG's sportscar program has had a great run the last few months, and this weekend continues the streak," stated Buckler. "Henri drove a fantastic stint, and ran super-quick lap times especially having not even seen this race track 2 days prior. His professionalism and enthusiasm to be competitive makes him a great partner to our team, and we're glad we were able to bring him another podium. When Andy got in the car, we tried to take a different approach with race strategy, and it would have worked out really well if we didn't have our pit penalty. These things happen, and we'll take our points and move on to Lime Rock. The guys did a great job as always, and I look forward to going for the win at Lime Rock!"
The next round of the American Le Mans Series will be the American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix at the historic Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Connecticut.
Meanwhile, TRG will also be competing at this weekend's GRAND-AM NJMP 250 presented by Crown Royal at New Jersey Motorsports Park in Lakeville, Connecticut. Not only is the team going for their fourth-straight GRAND-AM GT victory, but the team will also be hosting a number of guests in conjunction with the development of their new TRG East facility located on the same campus.