Klaus Graf shares the Muscle Milk Pickett Racing HPD ARX-03a with Lucas Luhr in the American Le Mans Series.
Wow, five in a row. What an accomplishment so far this season for Muscle Milk Pickett Racing.
We had another really good race weekend at Mid-Ohio leading all on-track sessions as we did at the last round in Mosport.
A lot of people are saying how we make it look easy, but believe me there is a lot of hard work that goes into every single victory both on and off the track.
Our engineering group does a lot of preparation and simulation work before heading to the race track and the crew prepares the car with the greatest attention to detail, both prior to arriving at the circuit as well as throughout the weekend.
Once again, thanks to this preparation, we were fast straight away going into the promoter test session on Thursday, but the track at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course changes a lot and that's where it can get tricky finding the right set-up for the car.
One of the biggest issues we face is the rubber that is put down on the track by the Indy cars. It doesn't match really well with ours and so it's an added difficulty that we need to deal with at an event like Mid-Ohio where the IndyCar Series races with us.
Adding to that is the fact that we had all of our practices and qualifying before the Indy cars took to the track, so it was only in the warm-up, the morning of the race, that we could finally see how our Michelin-clad Muscle Milk HPD ARX-03a would handle with the IndyCar rubber on the track.
It certainly made for a tricky track and kept things interesting throughout the race. I had to search for lines quite a bit and adjust my driving style in some areas.
So when I say it wasn't easy, it's not like we are out there just going around as fast as we can, there is a lot to think about!
We of course are competitive by nature and we want each lap to be the best it can be so we push as hard as we can. That said, we have to be careful because there is so much at stake.
At Mid-Ohio, I had to go off line at one point on the back straightaway and when you do that you're in the marbles and there is absolutely no grip whatsoever. A small lack of concentration can result in a tiny error with huge consequences.
Not only can it be costly in the race, but it can have big repercussions on the Championship because it is so tight and there is still a lot of racing to go this season.
Plus, Dyson Racing has been getting better and better with each race. We know they've been struggling with their new car this season but they are fast and always have been.
We may have won five races in a row but we still need to remain focused at all times, it is so important.
Lucas (ABOVE) who qualified the car on pole for us, did another great job in his stint at Mid-Ohio. For once, no one jumped the start and we were able to keep the advantage that comes with starting in pole position!
He was able to pull out a gap on Guy Smith and maintain it up until we pitted to do the driver change. The Dyson team had opted for a different pit strategy and we knew that we would lose the lead following our stop – which was the only time throughout the weekend that we were not atop the timing charts.
However, we were well aware that once our pit stops had cycled through that we would be back at the front of the field. Not only had we regained the lead but we actually had a lap on the field before our final stop and crossed the line with one lap on the field. It was a great feeling to give the team its fifth win a row and hopefully we can keep it going!
Our win this weekend was also the 40th ALMS career win for my teammate Lucas Luhr. What a great career he has had so far. He is now only two away from equaling Olivier Beretta who leads the all-time win category. While we don't need extra motivation to fight for wins, we'd like nothing more than to be able to help him take over the lead in those standings!
The weekend at Mid-Ohio wasn't filled with only racing. Our Team Manager/Chief Engineer Brandon Fry was camping at the track that weekend and he hosted a cookout at his RV for the team on the Friday evening.
It was nice to be able to hang out with the crew in a relaxed atmosphere. I was also introduced to a game called cornhole. While I'm still unsure of the exact rules, it's safe to say that both Lucas and myself still need some practice in order to master this game!! It was definitely fun and I'm sure it was also entertaining for those watching us play!
Next up for us is Road America where we had the closest finish in ALMS history last season and I'm looking forward to it.
Thanks for reading!
Follow Klaus on Twitter at @klaus_graf, Muscle Milk Pickett Racing at @MuscleMilkRace and Honda Performance Development at @HondaRacing_HPD. A video of the team at Mid-Ohio is below.