Sweedler and Bell to Start Team West/AJR Ferrari from Sixth Row in Baltimore
BALTIMORE - Bill Sweedler and Townsend Bell will start the American Le Mans Series Grand Prix of Baltimore from the sixth row in their No. 23 Team West/Alex Job Racing/Boardwalk Ferrari 458 tomorrow afternoon.
Bell (San Luis Obispo, Calif.) had the controls of the Team West/AJR Ferrari for qualifying. The Californian posted a time of 1:31.494 good for eleventh on the GT grid. The 2.02-mile, 12-turn temporary Baltimore street circuit surrounds Camden Yards, home of the Baltimore Orioles baseball team, has the GT field very tight on the time sheet. Teammate Bill Sweedler (Westport, Conn.) is returning to the team from a two race absence.
"The car is handling really well," Bell said. "We are soft in a couple areas right now with grip and a torque deficit. The whole GT field is separated by 1.7-seconds, which will get even tighter in the race tomorrow. The Team West/AJR guys do a great job to prepare the car. We never like being at the back, but we will play it safe and take advantage of every opportunity in the race tomorrow. The speed through the chicane goes up in direct proportion to which the damage to your floor goes down. There is quite a bit of time there if you can get it just right as the tires that line it keep moving."
Sweedler is glad to be back behind the wheel of the 458 GT this weekend.
"It is good to be back with Townsend and the team," Sweedler said. "I really like street racing and Baltimore is a real challenge. It is similar to Long Beach, which I really like, so I am comfortable in the concrete confines. Yokohama has a good tire under the car, we just need a little more help on the power and torque curve to get us on a more equal level playing field with the rest of the GT competitors. The Team West/AJR team has the car handling great. Tomorrow we need to run a clean race and really be on our toes in the pits and with our strategy."
Eduardo Espindola, team co-owner, likes the prospects for Baltimore.
"Anything can happen and usually does in a street race," Espindola said. "Bill and Townsend have a good record with street races and I am looking forward to an exciting race tomorrow. We have some ground to make up, but with our pit work and poise we can have a good day."
Alex Job, team co-owner, is ready for a good race.
"The GT field is very tight," Job said. "Passing will be difficult tomorrow and there will probably be more than a few incidents. We need to run a smart race on the track and in the pits to be successful. Bill and Townsend are both smart drivers and will take advantage of what comes and be ready to avoid everything else. Our pit work and strategy will need to be spot on as the race is only 120-minutes long."
The American Le Mans Series will travel to Maryland for the Grand Prix of Baltimore to run Aug. 30-31. The race will be televised on ABC Sept. 1 at 12:00 p.m. EDT on ABC. Live streaming of the race can be viewed on ESPN3.com, Aug. 31 at 3:30 pm EDT.
Alex Job Racing is one of the most successful teams in sports car racing with 70 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.