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Scott Tucker, A Year In Review: Northeast Grand Prix

Sports/Touring Car Racing Topics:  Scott Tucker, Northeast Grand Prix

Scott Tucker, A Year In Review: Northeast Grand Prix

Brent Arends
Level 5 Motorsports
September 28, 2011

Scott Tucker and his Level 5 Motorsports teammates recently began the final quarter of a racing year that has included numerous podium appearances, multiple car changes, incredible accomplishments and yet still room for improvement. Tucker, owner and driver for Level 5, has been a leader for the team despite the rookie status he maintained merely months ago. His tight, balanced driving has earned him top honors in the American Le Mans Series as Rookie of the Year and Champion Driver in 2010. His races often end with stints on the podium, and his career has only just begun.

As Tucker, his co-drivers Christophe Bouchut and Luis Diaz and team manager David Stone prepare to close the calendar year with the all-important Petit Le Mans and the Ferrari International Finals, the stakes are high—the team has woven itself a reputation of excellence that is best understood by looking back at what has made 2011 a stunning year for Level 5 Motorsports.

The third round of the American Le Mans Series had Level 5 Motorsports slated to appear at Lime Rock Park for the Northeast Grand Prix, but the team withdrew its two-car entry a month before the race took place. With owner-driver Scott Tucker's hectic schedule—racing in three series and what's more, dominating them—it wouldn't be out of the question to assume the withdraw was due to driver burnout; halfway through the year, couldn't the team use a break? Not quite; put simply, the Level 5 Motorsports team all but compulsively seeks opportunities to get on the podium. Less than a month earlier, Tucker and his teammates took the win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans after its debut in the race and first year in the LMP2 class. With a record that better fits the question, "What races haven't you won?" at that point in the year, Tucker and his team were making podium finishes a habit.

The decision to pull out of the Northeast Grand Prix was, like Level 5's driving, calculated and strategic. In fact, it was not a total shock, considering the circumstances. The Level 5 entries, two Lola-Hondas, would have been the only LMP2 cars in its class. At the time the decision was made, the team was more focused on preparing for the Six Hours of Imola, a race in Italy that would end just six days before the Lime Rock Park contest.

On top of the especially demanding back-to-back races, the team had lost one of its Lola B 11/80 Hondas the month before, in the Spa-Francorchamps race in Belgium. A high-speed crash forced the team to use its second Lola Honda coupe for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, which had been intended for use in the entire American Le Mans series. After all the switch-ups, the team was left with only one Lola Honda for use in the U.S. circuit.

Additionally, recent rules changes allowed an expansion of the fuel restrictor in LMP2 cars, which allowed the cars increased speed, a tweak that made Tucker decide to drive the Lola Honda Spyder for Le Mans, as its coupes were built to 2010 standards. At this point, Tucker was short on cars and essentially had to be three places at once; logistically, there just wasn't enough time to ship the Spyder back to the U.S. and prepare it to race in time for Lime Rock. "We want to get as many points as we possibly can," Tucker said. The ILMC competition is stiffer, and placing at that race could mean better placement overall in the series based on points. Level 5 would also find more LMP2 competitors overseas. With Level 5's withdrawal, the Lime Rock race had no LMP2 entries, though more were expected in time for the Petit Le Mans.

The Level 5 team would remain out of the country after eliminating Lime Rock from its schedule, with the next showing at Bowmanville, Ontario's Mosports International Raceway.

Brent Arends has been keeping a close eye on Scott Tucker, owner and driver, of Level 5 Motorsports throughout the past year. To get more information about Tucker, check out http://www.motorsport.com/#/all/search/?q=scott%252520tucker

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