Coming homeThe Muscle Milk team is looking to their home event at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca this weekend to return to their winning ways after a difficult previous round on the east coast.
After spending the last couple of months working out of the Mark 1 Composites shop in Indianapolis, the team returned last week to their headquarters in Benicia, California, located only a couple of hours from the Monterey, CA race track.
Although the American Le Mans Series race at Laguna Seca is considered its home event, it's never really been a lucky circuit for the California-based crew.
The team has finished on the podium in its last two visits to the 2.238-mile, 11-turn road course, but it hasn't been without difficulty.
In 2009, the team failed to complete the full race distance due to suspension damage and last season, they came back to finish second, after going seven laps down because a pebble had lodged itself behind the shift paddle.
Click image to download our Muscle Milk Sports Break Laguna Seca editionMuscle Milk Aston Martin Racing is hoping to change that this time around in the six-hour endurance race at Laguna Seca while looking to score maximum points and remain in the Championship hunt.
The team currently sits 24-points behind Dyson Racing in the points standings with only two races remaining.
Helping the team out and returning to his co-driving duties alongside Klaus Graf at Mazda Raceway will be Lucas Luhr, who missed out on the last round due to his racing commitment in the FIA GT1 World Championship where he continues to lead the driver's standings.
The Muscle Milk squad will not be the only team fielding an Aston Martin LMP1 car at Laguna Seca as the factory Aston Martin Racing team will be returning to the American Le Mans Series for the first time this year with their familiar blue and orange Gulf Oil liveried V12 powered DBR1-2.
The ModSpace American Le Mans Monterey race will go green on Saturday, September 17th at 1:30 p.m. PT and will be streamed live on ESPN3.com. Round 8 of the season will be broadcast on tape delay on ESPN2 Sunday, September 18 at 1:00 p.m. ET.
Bullitt sitting fifth in points heading to Laguna Seca
Muscle Milk Pickett Racing's IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama team will be returning to action at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca with driver Mark Bullitt.
With his recent performances on-track, Bullitt has taken over fifth place in the Platinum Cup points standings, only one point short of fourth. In his last five starts, he has finished in the top eight in all of them, and registered his first podium in the GT3 Cup Challenge.
The German will be taking part in Rounds 12 and 13 at the 2.238-mile, 11-turn road course that features the famous Corkscrew and will be making his first visit to the Monterey-area circuit.
For the first time this year, Bullitt and his fellow competitors will have an extra 30-minutes of racing at Laguna Seca.
Race #1 of the weekend, which takes place on Saturday, September 17, will be the regular 45 minutes in length but Race #2 will have a one-hour and 15 minute time limit and will be one of the featured events to take place on Sunday, September 18.
With a month gone by since Bullitt's last race at Road America, the driver of the #6 Muscle Milk Porsche GT3 Cup car is anxious to get back on track on Thursday, September 15 for two test sessions before official practice and qualifying get underway Friday, September 16.
MUSCLE MILK QUOTES
AMERICAN LE MANS SERIES DRIVERS
Klaus Graf, co-driver Muscle Milk Aston Martin Racing
"Going to Laguna Seca is like coming home for the Muscle Milk Aston Martin Racing team. Our race shop and the CytoSport company are just two hours north of the track and so we call this our home race on the ALMS calendar. "With the race being a six hour event this will ask for a lot from both the drivers and team. We will do the race with just Lucas and I driving but I'm sure we'll perform at the same level as usual and push hard all the way. "The layout of the Laguna Seca track is a very challenging one and the conditions change a lot with dirt coming on the race track and the temperature differences racing into the dark are quite dramatic. But I'm confident that our partner Michelin will have the right tires for the difficult conditions. "I personally always look forward to this race as I like this part of the world very much."
Lucas Luhr, co-driver Muscle Milk Aston Martin Racing
"I missed being with Muscle Milk Aston Martin Racing at Baltimore and I'm looking forward to getting back to the United States after spending two weeks in China for a couple of GT1 races. "Laguna Seca is one of the best tracks in what is a great part of the country. With the circuit being so close to the team's shop and CytoSport's head office, this will be a home race for the team. They had a tough weekend at the last race so I hope we can turn things around in front of the home crowd and do well to keep Klaus in the chase for the driver's championship."Once again, it won't be easy as Laguna Seca isn't the easiest of tracks, plus we start the race in the daylight and end in darkness and that makes for challenging conditions, but we're ready for it."
IMSA GT3 CUP CHALLENGE BY YOKOHAMA DRIVER
Mark Bullitt, driver #6 Muscle Milk Team CytoSport"We're going to another track that I have never been to but so far this year that hasn't really been a factor as we've been doing better at the tracks I didn't know like Mosport and Lime Rock than those I did!"I'm really looking forward to racing at Laguna Seca, it's a nice racetrack and it should be good for our Muscle Milk Porsche GT3 cup car. (How do you prepare heading into a track you've never been to) "I usually print out the track map and study it, then I watch some onboard footage when possible so I can start analyzing it and visualizing it in my head. This way not everything is new when you get on track and you have an idea of the gears and the speeds and the braking points, so that helps a lot."Once I get to the track, I will talk with Klaus (Graf) my driver coach about the significant parts of the track like where you have to be careful. But there is only so much someone can tell you, you have to experience it for yourself, so after our first session, Klaus and I sit down and look at the data together and this way we can talk about it more because I now have a feel for the car on the track."
Race Facts:ModSpace American Le Mans MontereyMazda Raceway Laguna Seca, 2.238-mile, 11-turn road course, Salinas, CASeptember 16 - 19, 2011
American Le Mans Series: Round #8 of 9Race Duration: 6 hours ALMS live online coverage:United States: ESPN3.comInternational: americanlemans.comQualifying - September 16, 2011: 6:30 pm - 7:45 pm ET Race - September 17, 2011: 4:15 pm - 10:45 pm ETTape delayed broadcast:ESPN2: September 18, 2011 from 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm ETLive International Broadcast:MotorsTV - Live on Saturday, September 17Fox Sports Middle East - Live on Saturday, September 17Fox Latin American Networks - Live on Saturday, September 17Rogers Sports Net West - Live on Saturday, September 17, from 4:15 pm - 10:45 pm ET
IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama: Rounds 12 & 13 of 15Race duration: Race 1 - 45 minutes eachRace 2 - 1 hour and 15 minutes
Schedule (All times pacific):Thursday, September 15, 2011:GT3 Test Session: 11:30 am - 12:10 amGT3 Test Session: 4:20 pm - 5:10 pmALMS Test Session: 5:30 pm - 6:00 pm (GT/GTC)ALMS Test Session: 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm (All classes)ALMS Test Session: 7:00 pm - 7:30 pm (LMP1/LMP2)
Friday, September 16, 2011:ALMS Practice: 10:35 am - 11:35 am (All classes)GT3 Practice: 11:45 am - 12:30 amGT3 Autograph session: 1:30 pm - 2:00 pmALMS Practice: 2:15 pm - 3:15 pm (All Classes)ALMS Qualifying: 3:25 pm - 3:40 pm (GTC)ALMS Qualifying: 3:40 pm - 3:55 pm (GT)ALMS Qualifying: 4:00 pm - 4:15 pm (LMPC)ALMS Qualifying: 4:15 pm - 4:30 pm (LMP1/LMP2)GT3 Qualifying: 5:20 pm - 5:50 pm
Saturday, September 17, 2011:ALMS Warm-up: 9:50 am - 10:10 amGT3 Race #1: 10:20 am - 11:15 am (45 minutes)ALMS Autograph Session: 11:00 am - 11:45 amALMS Race: 1:30 pm (6 hours)
Sunday, September 18, 2011GT3 Race #2: 12:45 pm (1 hour 15 minutes)