The American Le Mans Series Presented by Tequila Patron heads to Virginia International Raceway for the Oak Tree Grand Prix this weekend where Lucas Luhr will vie for his 50th ALMS victory.
Almost home. The penultimate event of the final American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón season takes the green flag Saturday at the historic Virginia International Raceway, a 17-turn, 3.27-mile road course near Danville, Va.
The Oak Tree Grand Prix marks the second visit of the ALMS to VIR where a year ago Klaus Graf and Lucas Luhr captured the P1 and overall victory. Graf and Luhr are enjoying a dream season: seven consecutive victories that have already carried them to the P1 drivers' championship while leading Honda to the engine manufacturer's crown.
They also are on the cusp of giving Muscle Milk Pickett Racing the P1 team title and HPD the chassis manufacturer's championship.
One milestone remains is this – the final season of ALMS before the 2014 unification with the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series, which creates the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship sanctioned under the International Motor Sports Association banner.
Two more victories would give Luhr a magical 50 ALMS wins. He'll need to sweep the two remaining races at VIR and the season-ending Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta on Oct. 19.
"It would be very special to me but we still need to be focused for the rest of the season," said Luhr.
Other championships, however, remain up for grabs. Corvette Racing can claim the coveted GT manufacturer title by winning the race in addition to the team championship if either car finishes at least sixth.
Corvette co-drivers Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia can eliminate BMW driver Dirk Muller if they win and Muller finishes out of the top four. Corvette Racing teammates Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner would need to take second to stay in contention if their teammates win.
The Oak Tree Grand Prix is a homecoming for Milner, a native of Leesburg, Va., who participated in his first professional race at VIR in 2004 driving for his father Tom Milner's Prototype Technology Group team.
"I won my first GT pole – and I out-qualified Bill Auberlen and Boris Said to do that," Milner said. "It's a fantastic circuit with a very pretty setting and has a traditional, old-school feel to it."
The closest remaining championship battle in ALMS is in GTC, with five drivers separated by 10 points. Jeroen Bleekemolen and Cooper MacNeil, drivers of the Alex Job Racing No. 22 WeatherTech Porsche 911 GT3 Cup lead Flying Lizard Motorsports' Nelson Canache Jr. and Spencer Pumpelly of the No 45 Venezuela/eSilicon Porsche by four points. Henrique Cisneros, NGT Motorsport MOMO Porsche is third, 10 points out of the lead.
In P2, Level 5 Motorsports will be looking to clinch the championship with a victory. Team driver Marino Franchitti can eliminate everyone but new co-driver Guy Cosmo if they finish the race and Scott Tucker and Scott Sharp fail to complete the minimum 70% distance needed to score points.
A victory also could clinch the PC crown for Michael Guasch if Colin Braun does not compete in the class while Jonathan Bennett and Tristan Nunez finish no higher than third.
Even though the ALMS has only competed once at VIR, 36 of the 68 drivers entered in the Oak Tree Grand Prix have experience at the circuit – including nine of last year's 10 VIR winners.
The two hour 45 minute event begins at 2:15 p.m. ET on Saturday, Oct. 5. ESPN2's coverage can be seen at 5:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, Oct. 6. Four qualifying sessions will be held on Friday, Oct. 4 beginning at 3:45 p.m. and will be streamed live by ESPN3.