Team West Alex Job Racing Takes Exciting Fourth in GT at Laguna Seca
Team wins Michelin Green X Challenge
MONTEREY, Calif. - The Team West/Alex Job Racing/Boardwalk Ferrari with Townsend Bell and Bill Sweedler finished a team best fourth in GT in today's running of the American Le Mans Grand Prix of Monterey at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
Bell (San Luis Obispo, Calif.) had the controls of the red and white 458 for the opening stint in today's four hour race. Getting a great start, the central California resident moved up from his third row starting position to second place on the first lap. Getting a tap on the front straight from a Corvette, Bell proceeded to run strongly in the top four throughout his early time in the car. On lap 60, he pitted and handed the Ferrari over to Sweedler (Westport, Conn.). Sweedler proceeded to keep the Ferrari on pace with the front of the GT field through his middle laps in the car. Bell returned to the seat on lap 108 to keep the charge going. A fortuitous penalty to the Paul Miller Porsche and the tenacious driving of Bell moved the Team West Ferrari to fourth in the last hour. An aggressive pass by Marc Goosens in the SRT Viper moved Bell to fifth with 10 laps remaining. But the Californian wasn't having it. A restart with just one lap to go had Bell pull alongside Goosens down the main straight with the inside position into Turn One. Goosens stayed outside which put him to the inside going into Turn Two, and proceeded to shove Bell off the track into Turn Three. Bell used the next nine turns to clean his tires for one last run into Turn Eleven to get by Goosens. The aggression paid off placing the 458 in fourth for the team's best finish to date.
"The lower temperature definitely helped us along with the adjustments the guys made," Bell said. "The car just got better as the race went on into the evening. We weren't all the way there, but we were close enough, with traffic getting mixed up it kept things interesting. That big Viper tried to push us around, but we smacked it in the face and left him in the dust. On the last lap I pulled by him on the inside down the front straight. He tried to drive me into the wall and rubbed me there. Down into Turn Two I out braked him, then he tried to shove me off the track into Turn Three. I got my tires cleaned up and coming into Turn Eleven, there wasn't any way I was going to leave it alone. At this point our car had been hit enough, so I just stuck it in there and we just made it happen."
Sweedler is ecstatic at the finish and progress of the team.
"The Team West AJR Ferrari was unbelievable," Sweedler said. "We were knocking on the door to the podium. It was an amazing finish. Townsend had a great last stint. The aerodynamics were not a hundred percent, we were hit from behind at the beginning of the race. Despite that the car was outstanding on the Yokohama tires tonight. Lime Rock is the next race, my favorite track, in my home state, I can't wait. We are going to do some testing in June and I can't wait to come back in July rocking and rolling."
Eduardo Espindola, team co-owner, liked the exciting finish.
"Awesome," Espindola said. "It was a great team effort today. The crew did a good job adjusting and keeping the car together. The Yokohama tires got better as the air got cooler and Bill and Townsend were terrific behind the wheel. Fourth is a nice reward this early in the season. It just makes us want more."
Team co-owner, Alex Job, had the team positioned for success.
"What a finish," Job said. "Even though it was for fourth it was very exciting and rewarding for the team. The crew put a lot of work in the car and Bill and Townsend gave the effort right back today. Bill put in a great middle stint and Townsend wasn't going to let anyone push him around. It is a small victory, but one that will motivate us to Lime Rock in July."
The team was awarded the Green X Challenge award, second in as many races, for their effort. The Michelin Green X Challenge recognizes the cleanest, fastest, most efficient cars at each ALMS race.
The American Le Mans Series will take its annual break for competitors running at Le Mans and return to action July 5-6 at Lime Rock Park in Connecticut.
The Grand Prix of Monterey at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca television broadcast will air tomorrow, May12, at 4:00 pm EDT on ESPN 2.
Alex Job Racing is one of the most successful teams in sports car racing with 68 wins (since 1995); including two Rolex 24 GT Class wins in 1999 and 2013. This record is supported by 48 pole positions and 106 podium finishes. The team has won four championships (GTC 2012, GT in 2004, 2003 and 2002) complimented by their two GT class wins at Le Mans. The team also boasts nine Sebring 12-hour wins.
The ALMS GT Class is comprised of production-based, moderately-modified, two-wheel drive race cars including the BMW Z4, Corvette C6.R, Ferrari F458 GT, Viper SRT and Porsche 911 GT3 RSR. The GT cars share many similarities to their showroom brands. With top speeds of up to 180 mph, these elite GTs produce between 450-500 horsepower and have a minimum weight of 1,145 kilograms (2,480 pounds). All GT race cars have green Leader Light System race position lights and green car numbers.