Austin, TX. — Following a bitter-sweet outing on the streets of Baltimore, Level 5 Motorsports and Scott Tucker head to the Lone Star State and the newest permanent road course in the United States, with the collective goal of inching closer to its fourth American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón championship.
The sprawling 3.4-mile, 20-turn Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas plays host the inaugural International Sports Car Weekend, featuring both the ALMS and the FIA World Endurance Championship. For Tucker and the Madison, Wis.-based Level 5 organization, the focus will be on continuing its winning ways in what’s turned into a competitive championship race in the P2 class.
Saturday’s 2-hour and 45-minute race will feature an unchanged driver roster from Baltimore. Tucker, a nine-time national driving champion, will be joined by open-wheel standout Ryan Briscoe, as well as P2 championship leader Marino Franchitti and runner-up Guy Cosmo in the pair of Siemens/Alpina Watches/Ohiya Casino Resort-sponsored Honda Performance Development ARX-03b prototypes, as the team seeks its seventh victory in eight races.
Cosmo, in his Level 5 debut, and co-driver Franchitti celebrated on the top step of the podium in Baltimore, following an accident-filled race that took out the pole-sitting No. 551 car of Tucker before even taking the start. The multi-car incident, which brought out a lengthy red flag, resulted in the HPD’s retirement, with a new chassis, commonly known as a tub, having to be sourced. The replacement tub arrived at Level 5’s shop on Sept. 6, which saw the team work through the weekend to build a brand-new car from the ground-up.
"The guys have been working in typical Level 5 fashion,” explained Level 5 team manager David Stone. "It was basically building a whole new car from scratch. Any time you start with a new tub, everything has to come off and be meticulously inspected and reinstalled. We know it's part of the game and sometimes it's an unfortunate thing you're faced with. The team just knuckled down and got the job done. The transporters left right on time according to the original schedule. It was a great job by everyone concerned.”
The massive effort by the Level 5 organization continues this week, in preparation for the COTA race, as both cars will take part in Tuesday’s test session. Having completed an additional two-day test at the track last month, the team already boasts a considerable amount of data, and a clear leg up on its competition. Level 5 leads both the P2 drivers and teams championship entering the eighth round of the season.
“It’s going to be a big weekend for sports car racing,” said Tucker, who will also be taking part in the Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda championship at COTA. “I was fortunate enough to have driven the track in Ferrari Challenge last year, during the F1 weekend. Anytime you go somewhere new, it adds some excitement. It’s an amazing venue and I think we should be in for a great race. The team has been working really hard since Baltimore and another win would be a great reward for everyone's hard work and dedication."
With temperatures expected in the mid-to-high 90s, along with the nature of the F1-designed track, Stone is expecting a near flat-out race, which could test both man and machine.
"It's always good to have the setup knowledge from a test,” Stone added. “We might be a little bit ahead of our competition since we had a couple of days of solid testing last month. COTA is a very fast track, as everyone knows. As it's such a modern track, I don't anticipate a lot of full course yellows because there's not a lot of places to get hung up. Unless somebody gets into other cars or a barrier, I'm expecting it to be a pretty green race.”
The International Sports Car Weekend at Circuit of the Americas is set for September 19-21.Qualifying will be held Friday, September 20, at 2:40 p.m. EDT and will be streamed live on ESPN3. The race will be held on Saturday, September 21, at 3:45 p.m. EDT. In addition to being streamed live on ESPN3, the event will also be broadcast on ESPN2 Sunday, September 22, at 1 p.m. EDT.