Muscle Milk AMR: Victory at Mid-Ohio

Sunday, August 07, 2011

The Muscle Milk squad celebrated its return to Mid-Ohio by taking a second consecutive win this season in what ended up being a wild and wet race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The Greg Pickett-led team missed out on last year's event after a testing crash forced them to sadly withdraw from the race at the track that also holds a special place in the team's history as it was there, in 2009, that the team returned to competition in the American Le Mans Series.

Right from the start of the two hour and 45 minute race, Lucas Luhr stayed within striking distance of the Dyson car driven by Guy Smith.

Luhr initially took the lead when his closest rival pitted for fuel and tires, however, the German found himself once again in second place following his own stop for a new set of Michelin tires and E85 fuel.

The driver of the Muscle Milk Aston Martin remained in second for another 23 laps but took advantage of a lap 62 restart to jump to the lead and never look back.

The team had a near 18 second lead when Klaus Graf took over driving duties on Lap 79 and Graf was able to keep increasing that gap when the rain decided to play a part in Saturday's Mid-Ohio Sports Car Challenge.

The drizzle that was falling quickly turned to a downpour, sending Graf and others to pit lane for rain tires. Upon exiting the pits, the German had built a lead of over one minute and a half that unfortunately was quickly eliminated when a full course caution came out for cars spinning on track due to the inclement weather.

While the race resumed with just under 30 minutes to go, it immediately went back to a full course caution on account of a heavy downpour that sent cars spinning off course left and right.

Although the race was under yellow, Graf still had to keep the car on the track in what had become treacherous driving conditions. Using all his experience racing in the wet, Graf continued to sail around the track until a red flag came out with 10 minutes to go, ensuring another victory for Muscle Milk Aston Martin Racing.

Saturday's win at Mid-Ohio was a third for the team this season and fifth overall since joining the series again in 2009. The Muscle Milk team also took the Michelin Green X Challenge honors for a fourth race in a row.

Muscle Milk Aston Martin Racing, along with its IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge team, will be back on track in two weeks time for the Time Warner Cable Road Race Showcase at Road America.


Klaus Graf, co-driver Muscle Milk Aston Martin Racing

"It started two years ago here at Mid-Ohio for us and everybody was surprised with our performance at the time. And now look where we are. It's our first Mid-Ohio win. After last year it's certainly a big reward, a very special win for Greg (Pickett) after what we went through in 2010. It was a great day for the Muscle Milk team.
"It was very difficult out there, this was a tough one. Not physically but mentally it was very stressful just to keep the car on the road in these conditions. I think I can be even more proud of myself when I see how many GT cars spun off, because those cars are easier to keep on the road than a prototype and our cars are just so difficult in those conditions especially at Mid-Ohio with all the surface changes.
"It was really good to have Lucas put the car in the lead because it's easier to control something like that from the front of the field rather than being stuck behind the GT cars in the middle of the pack. I was able to time my restarts nicely. At the end it was silly and that's when things actually get really dangerous, when you go a normal car speed and you almost can't keep it on the road, that's really difficult!
"Finally, the way the Michelin tires performed today was very good, very special. We made the right choices for every condition and the tires performed outstanding. To keep the car on the road you need the tire to do that as well and that was certainly the case today."

Lucas Luhr, co-driver Muscle Milk Aston Martin Racing

"It was a good start of the race for me. I had a good battle with Guy Smith. Sometimes he was luckier than me in traffic and sometimes I was. After we did our first round of pit stops, he remained ahead of me probably because he had pitted a lap earlier. I was able to continue keeping up with him and then on the restart, I had a better run, or I kept my tires up to temperature better, I don't know exactly what happened but I just launched into the lead and I was gone. I was then able to build a nice gap, I think it was 15 seconds at the end. I messed up the first pit stop a bit because I stopped a little too close to the wall so afterwards I pushed extra hard to give the boys a cushion for the next one.
"I do think I had the easier part of the race compared to Klaus. Heads up to him, it was not a racetrack anymore it was a lake. I totally agree with Race Control to have stopped the race. It was not drivable. When you have that much water on the racetrack you don't have any grip, it's like a boat more or less, therefore it was the right decis
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