Well, that definitely was not the way we wanted to end our 2011 season at Petit Le Mans. We were really looking forward to ending the year on a high note. It's safe to say that the last few races of the season are certainly not an indication of the overall success we've had this year.
We knew that our podium chances going in to Petit Le Mans were thin with the diesel-powered factory cars of Audi and Peugeot taking part in the final race of the season, so our goal for that last race was to be the "best of the rest" – the leaders in what could be called the unofficial gasoline class. Things started out well for us in the practice sessions as we were the fastest gasoline car on track during both the day and night practice sessions on Thursday, and we were confident heading into the Friday qualifying session.
Unfortunately, in qualifying, I caught traffic on what should have been our fastest lap. This other car was practically in the middle of the track and not running at speed. Some drivers really need to pay a little more attention to what is going on around them on the track.
There were a lot of speed differences within the same prototype class at Road Atlanta and it's important to pay attention to what is going on behind you. It was unfortunate that this car cost me a lot of time. It was so close among the gasoline cars that it cost us several spots, for sure.
To say I was disappointed, initially, with our qualifying at Road Atlanta is a huge understatement. I was really mad when I got out of the car and it took me a while to calm down. However, while we wanted to be the best of the rest on the grid, in reality, the starting position in a 1,000-mile race isn't that important.
Then came race day. There's not much to say about it, honestly, except that the bright side of our day, for the entire Muscle Milk team, was to see Greg Pickett have so much fun behind the wheel of the car and climb out with the biggest smile on his face. We were all very excited to see Greg get back behind the wheel this past weekend. His passion for racing is contagious and he has such a love for the sport.
He did an amazing job in what he says was his final race in a P1 car. He started the race in 11th and had moved up to sixth by the end of this stint about one hour and 15 minutes into the race, ahead of an Audi and two Peugeots!
I, of course, was disappointed to see that our race would end with engine problems not long after I got into the Aston Martin LMP1 car while we were running in fourth but in the end it was overshadowed by the joy Greg had behind the wheel. We're so grateful to him for giving me, and everyone on the team, the opportunity to do what we all love and to work for such a great organization.
Yes, I was sad that the season ended like it did, we had a really good racecar and with a little bit of luck we could have been on the podium, definitely the best gasoline car, had we been able to complete the race. It's too bad we could not finish it, but it seems our luck turned around somewhere after we won three races in a row.
The Muscle Milk crew guys have worked so hard all year, and over the course of the weekend, at Road Atlanta. It's sad for them that it had to end the way it did. It would have been nice to be able to give them a good result to end the season. The team did everything they could to give us the best car possible throughout the season and we saw when we didn't have any issues what we were capable of doing. When you look back at the races we didn't finish on the podium or win, the reasons behind it were all out of our control. So, all in all, it was a good season.
As I look back on the year, we can be proud of what we accomplished as a team. We won four races, which is more than we did last year, and it was the most of any prototype team. Dyson Racing won the championship and they only had one win – but they had the reliability, which is something we didn't and with such a competitive series it is something you need if you want to win a championship. Once again congratulations to them – it was a lot of fun racing against them.
I want to thank everyone on the team for an amazing job as well as Lucas Luhr, who is one of the best teammates a driver can have. I enjoyed our season together and I hope we can have many more.
The Muscle Milk Pickett Racing organization grew a lot this year and I think we will just continue to get stronger and stronger every year. I'm looking forward to next season and I'm confident that we'll come back strong.
I hope you enjoyed reading my blog throughout the year, as much as I enjoyed writing it. I'm looking forward to the offseason to spend more time with the family but I already can't wait to get back on track in preparation for 2012. As Greg Pickett said, we'll be back with a vengeance!
Thanks for reading!