MacNeil and Keen win VIR 240 to clinch ALMS GTC championship
ALTON, Va., (Sept. 15, 2012) - Alex Job Racing's (AJR) Cooper MacNeil, together with Leh Keen, won today's running of the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) VIR 240 GTC Class race at Virginia International Raceway (VIR). The finish made MacNeil the 2012 ALMS GTC Champion.
Having to finish fourth or better to sew up the GTC Championship, MacNeil (Hinsdale, ILL) started from a conservative third row for today's four-hour race at the 3.27-mile, 17-turn natural road course located just north of Danville. The University of Colorado at Boulder sophomore was able to make up ground, handing the car over to Keen (Charleston, S.C.) in the championship paying fourth position. Keen exited pit road in second place, thanks to the quick pit stop performed by the Alex Job Racing crew and proceeded to head for the lead of the GTC race.
On lap 50 Keen was able to make a pass for the overall class lead. Playing it conservatively as competitors began to go down laps, Keen was still able to lead more than 45 laps through the middle of the four hour-long race. Cycling through the last pit stop, the No. 11 JDX Porsche tried to beat the 22 WeatherTech Racing Team out of the pits by short filling their car. That proved to be a mistake as on the penultimate lap, Michael Valiante had to duck into the pits for a splash in the No. 11 handing the GTC Class lead to Keen coming to the white flag. However, the race was not over. The speedy Jeroen Bleekemolen was closing fast, Keen put a great last lap together to take the race win and the driver's championship for MacNeil.
"Winning the championship feels great," MacNeil said. "I couldn't have done it without Alex Job Racing and WeatherTech. It's like the old saying, it isn't over until it's over. My stint was crazy. You always get lots of contact around here. On the first lap going into Turn One, championship was going through my mind. I had to take to the infield to avoid all of the cars spinning and crashing on the track. After that excitement, I was able to get through that moment and turn good laps moving us up in the order and handing it over to Leh to win it. The team had great strategy and strong