By Tom Moore, Petersen Motorsports/ White Lightning Racing
Two Point Conversion
In basketball you can close a two point deficit with one field goal or even take the lead with a three-pointer from ‘downtown’. If football is your game, you can “go for two” on a two point conversion after a touchdown. In golf, you can shoot an eagle to chip away that margin. In American Le Mans Series endurance racing a two-point deficit is a little harder to overcome because the competition is always right on your heals. But, Petersen Motorsports/ White Lightning Racing can do just that this weekend at Mosport Int’l Raceway. The No. 31 Westward Ho Casino/ MMPIE/ PAWS/ Michelin Porsche led the GT2 class point championship (driver, team and IMSA Cup for private entrants) since the first checkered flag in March where the team walked-away with its first 12 Hours of Sebring title.
The Las Vegas-based operation lost the lead two races ago at Portland Int’l Raceway after finishing eighth- the first time off the podium all season- falling six points behind the new leader. They rallied with a spectacular, emotional victory at the most recent ALMS round at Road America to close the gap to within two markers of Alex Job Racing’s No. 23. With three races remaining, every race will have added importance. Sunday’s Mosport round is the final “sprint” race of the season at two hours and 45-minutes paying-out 20 points for a victory.
The final two events, the Petit Le Mans and the American Le Mans at Laguna Seca, are endurance races at 10 hours and four hours respectively. Petit pays-out an additional six points for a win (26 total) while the Mazda Raceway event yields four extra markers (24). With 70 points available in the next three races, the GT2 battle is likely to go down to the checkered flag at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on October 15. Like a football game’s closing moments, it’s time to pull out all the trick plays like on-side kicks and fake punts.
For the remainder of the 2005 American Le Mans Series season, Petersen Motorsports/ White Lightning Racing will proudly carry the unit insignia for the Second BN 222nd Field Artillery National Guard Division. Known as the “Triple Deuce”, the field artillery unit, which carries the motto “Serve The Guns Unshrinkingly”, is currently stationed in Iraq as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. While the team is always in full support of all of our fighting men and women around the globe, the Triple Deuce holds a special place in the heart of team manager Dale White. White’s nephew, Sergeant 1st Class Terry Wilde of southern Utah, is a member of the 450 soldier unit. Wilde, a master electrician by trade, is the Chief of Firing Battery which is in its second deployment in three years. The logos are proudly displayed on each door of the racecar just above the American flag decal that is ever-present on the No. 31.
With the victory in GT2 class at the Generac 500 at Road America- the ALMS’s most recent event- Petersen/ White Lightning added to its streak of event finishes. To date, the No. 31 Porsche- as prepared by White Lightning Racing- has been running at the finish of 18-straight events dating to the 2003 season-finale at Petit Le Mans where the car was crashed beyond repair. Overall, the car has been running at the end of 39 of its 43 career ALMS starts and has only failed to finish once (that ’02 Petit event) in the last three seasons! Since the team’s ’99 debut, 23 drivers have piloted the Westward Ho Casino/ MMPIE/ PAWS entry in ALMS and/or 24 Hours of Le Mans competition.
Petersen/ White Lightning has three career ALMS starts at Mosport since 2001. In its 2001 debut there, the first full season of ALMS competition for the Michael Petersen-owned team, they suffered one of only five "Did Not Finishes" (DNF) in 43 career starts. The ’01 event, like three of the five DNFs, was the result of an accident. They would, however, finish 10th adding to a total of 41 top-ten finishes since joining the ALMS in 1999. The former off-road truck racing champions would not return to Mosport, or for another complete season, until 2004, when Craig Stanton (Long Beach, Calif.) and David Murry (Cumming, Ga.) put on a spectacular run earning the operation a second-place and the IMSA Cup for the event. The No. 31 crossed the line just behind- and closing- on 2005 Petersen/ White Lightning driver Jörg Bergmeister who won the event in 2004 and 2003. Patrick Long made his Mosport debut last season in a Porsche 911 GT3 RSR taking a fifth-place finish.
No. 31 Westward Ho Casino/ MMPIE/ PAWS/ Michelin Porsche 911 GT3 RSR Drivers: Jörg Bergmeister (Langenfeld, Germany), Patrick Long (Las Vegas, Nev.), Michael Petersen (Las Vegas)
Owner: Michael Petersen Team Manager: Dale White Crew Chief: Stefan Pfeiffer