The Indianpost

Muscle Milk edges Dyson Racing

It took four hours of racing at Road America to produce the closest overall finish in American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón history.

Muscle Milk Aston Martin Racing’s Klaus Graf crossed the finish line 0.112 seconds ahead of Dyson Racing’s Guy Smith.

A back-and-forth Risi Competizione and BMW Team RLL battle in GT ended with the first win of 2011 for Risi.

As the green flag waved on the Time Warner Cable Road Race Showcase, it was Oryx Dyson Racing’s Steven Kane in the No. 20 Oryx Dyson Racing Lola-Mazda that stormed into the lead on the opening lap, passing Muscle Milk’s Lucas Luhr in Turn 3.

After two rounds of pits stops and driver changes, the No. 6 Lola-Aston Martin retook the lead in the hands of Graf.

Taking over for Chris Dyson, Smith gave chase to Graf and ticked off several fast race laps before closing the gap to less than two seconds with 15 minutes remaining. Smith caught the tail of Graf’s Lola as the pair weaved their way through battles for the GT and GTC lead.

The LMP1 rivals spent all four miles of the final lap glued together and as the two crested the hill and screamed underneath the checkered flag, the timing screens displayed Graf the winner by the slimmest overall margin recorded in ALMS.

“The last 20 minutes, it was probably the toughest of my career,” Graf said. “I can’t remember pushing so hard for the last two hours.

We were completely lucky the way the yellow came out. The guys just drove an awesome race. We made for a great show. We showed ALMS has some of the best sports car drivers in the world.”

The win was sweet redemption for the Muscle Milk team, which lost the lead in two corners from the finish in last year’s Road America race.

Autocon’s Tony Burgess and Chris McMurry finished third in the No. 12 Lola-AER.

Muscle Milk Aston Martin Racing won its fifth-straight Michelin Green X Challenge trophy.

The GT contest at Road America came down to a battle of pit stops and strategy that ended with Risi Competizione’s Jaime Melo and Toni Vilander driving their Ferrari F458 Italia to its first win in ALMS.

Class pole-sitter and defending race winner BMW Team RLL started strong with Joey Hand maintaining the lead through three rounds of pit stops, a tall order considering the grappling for position amongst the GT teams.

One such trip saw the No. 4 Corvette C6.R of Oliver Gavin and Vilander exit the pits side-by-side, leading to a synchronized spin for the pair in Turn 1.

Pit stops shuffled the GT order once again when Risi’s Melo beat Mueller out of pit lane.

Working a different fuel strategy, the No. 3 Corvette C6.R driven by Tommy Milner chose to pit with one hour remaining, gambling that at least one more full-course caution would give them the fuel mileage to make it to the end. Unfortunately, Milner caused his own full-course caution, losing control of the car over the Turn 13 rumble strips and coming to a rest against the wall.

In the ensuing pit stops under yellow, BMW Team RLL elected to put only left-side tires on the No. 55 BMW M3 GT piloted by Dirk Werner, enabling him to exit pit lane ahead of Melo and take the lead. It was short-lived as Melo retook the lead shortly after the restart and held on for the win.

“It’s been a tough year for us,” Melo said. “We’ve had some problems at the beginning of the year. This win is really important for us, really important for the Ferrari and especially for this new model.”

It was the first victory of 2011 for the Houston-based team and the first ALMS win for co-driver Toni Vilander.

BMW Team RLL completed the GT podium with the Auberlen/Werner duo in second followed by Mueller and Hand.

Corvette Racing’s No. 4 Corvette C6.R won its third-straight MGXC GT award this year, a scant 0.4 points ahead of BMW Team RLL (No. 56) and 1.4 points ahead of Risi Competizione.

Level 5 Motorsports won the LMP2 category in its return to ALMS competition at Road America.

In LMP Challenge, PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports scored its first ALMS victory with the duo of Butch Leitzinger and Rudy Junco.

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