ec: In 2007 and '08, AJR concentrated on Grand Am. The results have to be disappointing based on previous performance. You had a one-off chassis, meaning there was no development to be shared, and limitations on the Porsche flat six by the rule makers. Would it have been better to stay in the ALMS and perhaps look for the funding to run the then-new RS Spyder? Or was this a case of just wanting to do it your way?
AJ: After the years of running 911 GT racecars I wanted a new challenge. I also wanted to race for the overall victory, not just class. DP made the most sense. I didn't want to leave ALMS but there was no opportunity for an overall victory there. Porsche gave the Spyder program to Penske and there was no place for me. The DP program didn't have the success that I had hoped for both from the rules changes as well the lack of development of the Crawford chassis.We started very strong in 2006, but in 2007 and 2008 the lack of development with the Crawford really hurt us. The Grand Am rules don't allow the teams to make changes to the chassis and body; those must come from the constructor. Our hands were tied. In addition, all the other teams that were running a Crawford in 2006 when we started either left or switched to Rileys. We were the only Crawford running by 2008-even the factory Crawford wasn't running anymore. Crawford's new DP08 was ready by mid-2008, and after only three races it was clear that it needed a lot of development that couldn't be done in a season. I decided to lease a Riley chassis for the second half of the season. We were immediately competitive and got a third-place podium at New Jersey. If I had started the year with the Riley, 2008 may have been a very different year.
ec: At least AJR can claim some wins in Grand Am, which was something that Roger Penske was not able to do despite a front-line team, a Porsche powerplant built in Weissach, and a top-tier driver lineup.
AJ: I'm happy to say I believe AJR has more Porsche DP wins in Grand Am than anyone else. Interestingly, all four wins came with the Crawford chassis. Penske had the Riley chassis, which is certainly more successful, and had no wins. They had three podiums in 2009, and we had two in 2008. That was the year we changed cars twice, first the new Crawford body and then the Riley.
ec: In 2008 it appeared that AJR was going to return to the ALMS after running in the new IMSA Challenge Series. Now you're back in a big way with a three-car team in the ALMS GTC class and the team had a 1-2-3 finish at Sebring. You followed this up with a First and Third at Long Beach. This has to considered a huge accomplishment. We're used to seeing two-car operations, but three in one class is exceptional. How do you prepare for this and what sort of cost and logistics does it take?
AJ: It was great to return to the ALMS at Sebring this year and finish 1-2-3 in GTC; we also qualified 1-2-3. To sweep the podium was amazing. It was our seventh win at the Sebring 12-hour. The third car commitment didn't come together until eight days before we had to move in for the Sebring paddock. It was a crazy week trying to get everything done before the race on Saturday. My team affectionately calls the Sebring 12 AJR boot camp. It was never more apparent than this year. But no one's complaining. It's a big job to run two cars, but three times the work to run three. We've always been structured for a two-car team and had to completely restructure. This means a third rig, equipment and people. The additional car also requires more attention to race strategy. Each car has its own crew chief, but I have just one engineer and one strategist for all three. It shows the strength of these two people. Greg Fordahl, my engineer, has been with me since 1998. There's no stronger Porsche 911 track engineer anywhere. Each time we unload the cars the setup is right on. At Long Beach there was no time to work on the setup, but we didn't have to.