Kerry Alexander, owner/driver of the # 35 WickesLumber/Trilithic Engineering LAC Motorsports Panoz Esperante, has battled out from under the dark clouds that gathered over his fledgling team early in the 2001 Trans-Am Series. An exuberant new team, a hot new car, an outstanding sponsorship package and a rookie teammate sometimes all competed for his undivided attention at critical points. But now Alexander sees more than the promise of the success he's chasing.
The car - the dynamic new Panoz Esperante - needed more final touches than could be completed before the Sebring season opener in March. Disappointment and tragedy clouded races in Long Beach, Mosport and Detroit, where mechanical failures and accidents tested Alexander and the team to the core.
Then in Cleveland, the dark cloud that hung over the team for more than a month drifted off in the horizon on the coat tail of a Lake Erie squall. Alexander finished the race in 15th position, taking the first checkered flag for the Panoz stable.
On July 21, in his first outing at Sears Point Raceway, he qualified 13th and finished 11th, even though his track time was limited. "We missed the track set up a little bit, because it was sunnier on Saturday than Friday," he explained. During the race he maneuvered the Esperante into the top ten before a full course caution bunched up the field.
With a light fuel load, the car was a little looser than Alexander preferred, which contributed to losing a couple of spots on the re-start. "I really needed more time to figure out the track. There are a lot of turns and elevation changes, so there is always something going on at Sears Point. There isn't a lot of room for mistakes there.