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Fighting to the finish

Sometimes the box score doesn't tell the whole story of a race. Corvette Racing's third-place finish in the American Le Mans Series Larry H. Miller Dealerships Utah Grand Prix was the result of a determined effort in the heat of the Utah high desert. Johnny O'Connell and Jan Magnussen overcame intense competition on the track and a penalty in the pit lane to take their No. 3 Compuware Corvette C6.R to a hard-earned podium finish at Miller Motorsports Park.

The No. 3 Corvette C6.R finished one lap behind the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 430 GT and the runner-up No. 92 Rahal Letterman BMW M3 GT. The No. 4 Corvette C6.R of Oliver Gavin and Olivier Beretta encountered an electrical problem on the second lap, finishing 10th after losing three laps to the leaders during repairs.

"We're not winning, and that's what we're here for, but we will," said Magnussen. "When we can have good results on our bad days, then I'm sure it will be fantastic on our good days."

O'Connell started seventh in the GT class, lost a spot in the opening laps, and then methodically began to overtake his rivals. He was fifth at 30 minutes into the 2-hour, 45-minute race, and third at the 50-minute mark. Magnussen then took over just as the first hour was completed, and set off in pursuit of the leaders.

"The idea is to push hard and stay out of trouble," said O'Connell. "At the start a GT car went inside of me, but we got that position back and then started picking guys off. The car was good under braking, and as the fuel load went down we were getting quicker. When (crew chief) Dan Binks is telling me that guys are coming back to me, that's like blood in the water for a shark."

As the air temperature climbed to 90 degrees and the track sizzled at 112 degrees, Magnussen put the heat on the second-place BMW of Bill Auberlen. The Dane pitted for fuel and tires with 36 minutes to go, but a brush with the air jack hose incurred a stop-and-go penalty. Magnussen emerged in fifth, and moved up to fourth when the No. 45 Porsche pitted. With nine minutes left on the clock, he passed the No. 92 BMW of Dirk Mueller for third coming out of Turn 6.

"It was a good, fair fight with both BMWs," Magnussen said. "I managed to get by for third after he made a small mistake. I faked a move going in and he reacted to it. It was unfortunate that we had that penalty in the pits. It was one of those small things – sometimes the luck goes your way and sometimes the luck goes against you. I think our year has been the latter so far."

Crew chief Binks explained: "When I unplugged the air jack wand, it bounced against the wall and went under the tire. At the time you get upset, but the officials made the right call. We got a penalty, and Jan raced his heart out to third."

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