Luhr, Graf secure fourth straight win in ALMS

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Muscle Milk Pickett Racing’s duo of Lucas Luhr and Klaus Graf continued their dominance of the American Le Mans Series today, securing their fourth consecutive overall victory with a triumph in the Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.

The team basically went unchallenged throughout the 2-hour, 45-minute race in Ontario, with Luhr, the ALMS’ all-time wins leader, taking the checkered flag in the No. 6 HPD ARX-03c after entering the cockpit with one hour remaining in the event.

“Klaus did a long first stint and I just had to bring it home, so it’s very, very tough to keep your motivation and concentration,” Luhr said after the race on ESPN. “But we managed it. It’s another good day for Muscle Milk Pickett Racing – the boys really deserved it and it’s a good birthday present for Klaus.”

With Luhr and Graf burying their competition in the P1 class, the big late-race battle turned out to be in the GT class, where a pair of classic American muscle car brands, Corvette and Viper, fought it out for top honors.

Tommy Milner (co-driver: Oliver Gavin), in the No. 4 Corvette C6 ZR1, and Dominik Farnbacher (co-driver: Marc Goossens), in the No. 91 Viper GTS-R, battled tooth and nail along the 2.46-mile circuit in the final moments. But in the end, it was Milner that came out on top by less than three-tenths of a second over Farnbacher.

“I knew after that yellow flag [with 54 minutes left] that we would be nose-to-tail for a while,” Milner said of his pursuer. “I got through traffic a bit better than he did, but right at the end, I got the worst of traffic and he was right on me. That last lap, he was quick in [Turn] 8 there and I was either going to spin or take the lead, so I just threw it in there and it stuck, and here we are – P1.”

In the P2 category, Marino Franchitti secured a win for himself, co-driver Scott Tucker, and Level 5 Motorsports in the No. 551 HPD ARX-03b, ahead of their Extreme Speed Motorsports rivals, Scott Sharp and Guy Cosmo, in the No. 01 HPD entry.

Prototype Challenge went to Colin Braun and Jonathan Bennett in the No. 05 CORE Autosport Oreca FLM09, while the No. 22 Alex Job Racing Porsche team of Jeroen Bleekemolen and Cooper MacNeil reigned supreme in GT Challenge.

MRTI: Keith Donegan earns Mazda Shootout Scholarship

Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
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Dublin, Ireland’s Keith Donegan claimed a $200K scholarship from Mazda after emerging victorious at the second annual Mazda Road to Indy Shootout. The 20-year-old Donegan earned an at-large nomination for the scholarship based on his performance at this year’s Formula Ford Festival, in which he finished second in the final, and emerged from a pack of 17 drivers from across the globe to claim the scholarship.

“It really hasn’t hit me yet,” said an emotional Donegan, who earlier in his career actually spent two years away from racing as he focused on academics. “The weekend was really good and I enjoyed it. I have to say a huge thanks to Mazda and Cooper Tires and everyone at the Mazda Road to Indy. I enjoyed every moment. Throughout the weekend we were consistent and I kept the small things in check. I didn’t make any stupid mistakes and kept my head cool and that really paid off in the end.”

The two-day shootout was held at the Bondurant Racing School in Arizona and saw the nominated drivers tackle the school’s 1.6-mile circuit in Formula Mazda race cars before facing on and off-track assessments. Donegan was selected by a panel of judges that included former driver and current Verizon IndyCar Series TV analyst Scott Goodyear, Mazda drivers Tom Long, Andrew Carbonell, and Jonathan Bomarito, as well as Victor Franzoni – the current champion of the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires – and Oliver Askew, the current champion of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda.

Donegan was humbled to be in the presence of drivers who have won scholarships and championships previously, and added that he is grateful to have the opportunity to continue his racing career.

“You see all these champions here today that will go on to great things in the future and I’m sure the names you see here today aren’t going to disappear,” Donegan added. “They will be back up there and I’m sure I will be racing them again some day. It is an unbelievable opportunity to be given and for Mazda to provide that for any young driver. It just gives that bit of motivation that you need because the [U.S.] is where you need to go to become a professional these days. It is such a boost to my career.”

Donegan is now slated to join the 2018 USF2000 championship, with further announcements regarding the team with whom he’ll be racing to come in the future.

Follow @KyleMLavigne