Psychology researchers at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management in Illinois have discovered a funny thing about podium finishers. Often, the happiest person on stage is the one with the bronze medal around his or her neck. Despite having missed first place by two spots, competitors on the lowest rung of the podium tend to find themselves deep in the throes of counterfactual thinking. They aren't focused on how close they were to winning an event; instead, the third-place competitors are thinking about just how close they came to missing the podium entirely.

That may help explain why Lucas Ordonez, Jordan Tresson, Bryan Heitkotter and Jann Mardenborough are so thrilled at the moment. The four drivers helped bring RJN Motorsport a third-place finish at the recent 24 Hours of Dubai. That's no small feat for any professional race team, which makes the win even more unbelievable. The four drivers aren't pros in the normal sense. Each driver started his career behind a controller as part of the Nissan Playstation GT Academy.

Heikotter and Mardenborough had less than a year to transform themselves from gamers to racers. The two won the most recent GT Academy competitions in the U.S. and Europe, respectively.

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