A rare sight in 2013: The Muscle Milk HPD trailing. (LAT photo)
It certainly wasn't the way we wanted to end the season at Petit Le Mans after the successful season we had, but that's not what we'll take with us from this final American Le Mans Series year. We need to remember all the good times, and there were plenty of those.
As we've found out a few times now, the Petit Le Mans is a hard race to win. It wasn't an easy week for the team at Road Atlanta, if you compare it to all of our other race weekends this year.
The good thing going into the weekend was that we had nothing to lose, having already won the championship at Baltimore. However, we really wanted to go out there and beat Rebellion, like we did at Long Beach and Laguna Seca this year. Things were looking good for us at one point…
We knew the Rebellion car would be quick, as they've shown us in the past, so we were not surprised to see them capture pole position for the race. While we tried our best, we expected the outcome.
Come race day, we were confident in our chances, especially with the rain coming into play at the start of the race. Jani was able to maintain the lead at the start but I was able to get by him a little later. The rain made things a little tricky because the track wasn't wet enough for rain tires at times so choosing which tires to go with and at what time was a little bit of a gamble, but we made all the right calls.
We managed to gain a two-lap lead about 50 laps into the race and everything was going really well at the time. Klaus Graf did a great job in his stint dealing with the tricky weather conditions and when Romain Dumas got into our Muscle Milk HPD ARX-03c, in drier conditions, he was flying out there. Unfortunately, Romain was only able to do about 20 laps before we had our overheating issue, which forced us to retire from the race.
It was very disappointing to not be able to finish the race, especially when the issue was nothing of our doing. The Muscle Milk crew did nothing wrong, they've done an amazing job all season and have given us a reliable car at each race, and this was out of our hands.
The important thing to remember is not this final race of the season; it's the season as a whole. We won eight overall races out of 10 this year, not many teams have done that in the past. I think only Audi and Penske Racing have done it, in one season.
I can't thank the guys and girls at Muscle Milk Pickett Racing enough for everything they do. As I said at the banquet, the crew members are the real rock stars. They make us look good. If it wasn't for their hard work and attention to detail we wouldn't have won all these races. They rocked on their pit stops and did a great job.
Everyone at Pickett Racing can be proud of what we achieved these last few years. We won 14 races in the last two years out of 20 and won two Championships. That's pretty outstanding, in my opinion.
While it was nice to have another season come to a close, it was also a little sad to be saying goodbye to the American Le Mans Series. I've had a great time and much success in this series winning six championships and it means a lot to me to come out as the driver with the most career ALMS wins. It would have been nice to get a round number like 50 but 49 will do just fine!
Hopefully the future will be as successful! It's been a great run in the ALMS and I'm looking forward to the future. We don't know what it holds yet, but I can't wait to find out.
Until next time,