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Classes

Prototype (P)

Prototype Challenge(PC)

GT Le Mans (GTLM

GT Daytona (GTD)

IMSA Point Standings
After Austin
Prototype Drivers
Pos Drivers Total
1 Jordan Taylor 226
1 Ricky Taylor 226
2 Christian Fittipaldi 207
2 Joao Barbosa 207
3 Misha Goikhberg 200
3 Stephen Simpson 200
4 Dane Cameron 199
4 Eric Curran 199
5 Ryan Dalziel 183
5 Scott Sharp 183
6 Tristan Nunez 181
6 Jonathan Bomarito 181
7 Tom Long 168
7 Joel Miller 168
8 Johannes Van Overbeek 162
9 Renger Van Der Zande 148
9 Marc Goossens 148
10 Ed Brown 117

PC
1 Patricio O'ward 216
1 James French 216
2 Don Yount 182
3 Buddy Rice 120
4 Kyle Masson 108
5 Gustavo Yacaman 89
6 Nicholas Boulle 68
7 Garett Grist 62
8 Ryan Lewis 62
9 Sean Rayhall 60
10 Daniel Burkett 60

GTLM
1 Jan Magnussen 182
1 Antonio Garcia 182
2 Alexander Sims 179
2 Bill Auberlen 179
3 Joey Hand 172
3 Dirk Mueller 172
4 Richard Westbrook 169
4 Ryan Briscoe 169
5 Dirk Werner 159
5 Patrick Pilet 159
6 Oliver Gavin 151
6 Tommy Milner 151
7 John Edwards 151
7 Martin Tomczyk 151
8 Laurens Vanthoor 151
9 Giancarlo Fisichella 104
9 Toni Vilander 104
10 Kevin Estre 78

GTD
1 Christina Nielsen 203
1 Alessandro Balzan 203
2 Jeroen Bleekemolen 195
2 Ben Keating 195
3 Andy Lally 179
3 Katherine Legge 179
4 Jens Klingmann 168
5 Lawson Aschenbach 166
5 Andrew Davis 166
6 Madison Snow 165
6 Bryan Sellers 165
7 Daniel Morad 162
8 Oswaldo Negri Jr. 152
8 Jeff Segal 152
9 Patrick Lindsey 150
10 Cooper Macneil 147

Prototype Teams
Rank Teams Total
1 #10 Konica Minolta Cadillac 226
2 #5 Mustang Sampling Racing 207
3 #85 Jdc-Miller Motorsports 200
4 #31 Whelen Engineering 199
5 #2 Tequila Patron Esm 183

PC
1 #38 Performance Tech 216
2 #26 Bar1 Motorsports 185
3 #20 Bar1 Motorsports 182
4 #8 Starworks Motorsports 58
5 #88 Starworks Motorsport 28

GTLM
1 #3 Corvette Racing 182
2 #25 BMW Team Rll 179
3 #66 Ford Chip Ganassi 172
4 #67 Ford Chip Ganassi 169
5 #911 Porsche Gt Team 159
6 #4 Corvette Racing 151
7 #24 BMW Team Rll 151
8 #912 Porsche Gt Team 151
9 #62 Risi Competizione 104
10 #68 Ford Chip Ganassi Uk 50

GTD
1 #63 Scuderia Corsa 203
2 #33 Riley Motorsports - AMG 195
3 #93 M. Shank W/ Curb-Aga 179
4 #96 Turner Motorsport 168
5 #57 Stevenson Motorsports 166
It's crunch time for ALMS teams

by Greg Creamer
Saturday, August 8, 2009

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Lowe's backed Fernandez car
In both the figurative and literal, it most surely is “crunch time” for the competitors in the American Le Mans Series. But one doesn’t blend well with the other, and it poses a rather significant conundrum for the teams and drivers. Success in one sense may breed failure in the other. It is just this type of stretch in a championship battle that takes the balancing act that competitors face at every event and forces it to the extreme.

In the figurative sense, this is by far the busiest run of races this season. In August alone this weekend at Mid-Ohio kicks off three races in four weeks. Add in Lime Rock two weeks ago, and that’s four in seven. And it is in these types of stretches that championships are won or lost. 

This is when a team can string together a run of success and make a big move in the points battle, perhaps even leapfrog into the lead. A team that is truly hitting its stride, whose mindset is well prepared for the grind ahead and the challenges it presents, and whose collective nerve is unflappable and execution in all facets is near perfect - and repeatable - can find great fortune in the weeks ahead. Especially if they get a little help…

Ah, now there’s the rub, isn’t it? One’s help is usually another’s misfortune, and in the literal sense, “crunch time” is something to avoid at all costs in such a crucial period. And “crunch” doesn’t just mean contact. It includes mechanical breakage. It includes mental breakdown. Brake fade and brain fade.

And in the type of stretch we’re in; the affect of one failure can multiply exponentially over the next races. A big shunt and resultant thrash can take a physical toll on a crew, thereby increasing the chance through a combination of exhaustion, haste and the law of averages of another issue. Or, a simple mechanical failure or puncture or the like that results in a big hit in the points can take a mental toll on the team. And if rattled and distracted, the likelihood of something else going wrong rises dramatically. Ultimately, if a team isn’t up to the task, either scenario can result in crises. And while their competitors may not yet have won, they have already lost.

So, caution is surely the approach, yes? Don’t push the equipment too hard, don’t get too ‘racy’. Simple survival is clearly the best strategy. Keep your nose clean and just accrue points. Just be there at the end of each race. Yeah, that’s it!

But, what if another team is always there at the end of each race as well, and often a spot or two ahead of you? Sure, you’ve come through the stretch unscathed, everyone clean shaven and well rested with no circles under eyes which are bright and clear. But you’ve not only failed to gain in the points, but you’ve dropped further astern and your shot at the championship has slipped away.

We’re back to that delicate balancing act I mentioned earlier. Aggression versus caution, speed versus survival.  It’s not so much WHETHER to make the decision to fight or retreat, but knowing WHEN. And right there is the key, in the beloved term of engineers, to “optimizing” your results during the dog days facing the teams. The KNOWING. Success this August should tilt toward those with experience. 

The knowledge gleaned from having been through this before is invaluable. Sure, there is no doubt those who will ask “Yes, but what about luck?” Granting that there is always that sliver of purely random luck that can skew any strategy no matter how well planned and executed (proof? Patr¢n Highcroft at Lime Rock…), but there is truth in the old adage - or cliché to the jaded - that one makes their own luck. Having been there, done that and preparing for all the known possibilities as thoroughly as possible, is the greatest asset a team can have.

You still, however, must have in that recipe one more crucial ingredient…speed. No matter how solid your experience, prep and strategy, at this level you must also have the pace to outduel your competition, and in both driver and machine. You simply must have the right mix. For classic examples one need only look to both last year and this year at Le Mans. 

In 2008, Peugeot clearly had the speed. Pre-testing and qualifying proved that. But in the race, Audi’s experience generated a flawless strategy, and mated to the package of experience and speed the drivers had (and incomprehensible speed in all conditions of one McNish, Allan in particular!), they pulled off their most stunning victory at La Sarthe.

This year, after last year’s fast but mistake-ridden debacle, Peugeot learned from that EXPERIENCE, reoriented its program accordingly and, in what was surely a key adjustment, realized that sports car/endurance racing experience and not just raw speed in its drivers was vital. Was it just coincidence that the car that won had David Brabham as a pilot? I think not!!

And that points out the most exciting aspect about this next month is that the players in the American Le Mans Series are among the best in the world. When the car takes to the track it is prepped at a world class level. When it comes steaming down pit lane, the crews swarming over them are at the top of the game. And when the drivers decide to not fight for the moment, that adjustment can be in only hundredths of a second. Virtually undetectable in form, but massive in result.

While a team may well not be able to clinch by Augusts’ end, it can certainly keep or haul itself into the hunt. Conversely, it can just as surely take itself completely out of it. This is what multiclass international sports car racing is all about, and the game is afoot! So tune in and witness the wizardry, for it is in a stretch run like this that a team’s mettle is truly tested, and true champions are borne.

Greg Creamer is one of road-racing’s foremost broadcasters and personalities. He has been the play-by-play host for the American Le Mans Series, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Formula 1 and many other motorsport championships. His “From the Booth” commentary will periodically appear on americanlemans.com.

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