Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team ready for Rolex 24 At Daytona DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 25, 2008) -- It's go time for the Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing team as they made final car preparations in Friday's Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car...
Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team ready for Rolex 24 At Daytona
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 25, 2008) -- It's go time for the Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing team as they made final car preparations in Friday's Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 final practice sessions prior to Saturday's 46th Rolex 24 At Daytona.
Arguably the strongest Daytona Prototype driver lineup in the paddock, all four Ruby Tuesday drivers, Bill Auberlen, Joey Hand, Patrick Long and Andy Wallace, got some seat time between today's two practice sessions. In the 45-minute morning practice session, Long turned the team's best lap with a 1:43.354 (124.001 mph), while Wallace turned only a handful of laps with his best time of 1:44.712. During the afternoon practice, Auberlen set the early pace with a 1:43.047 before Hand took over and promptly turned the team's best lap of the day with a 1:42.621 (124.887 mph). Hand's practice time was only three tenths off his qualifying effort and was the fourth fastest DP in afternoon practice.
"Right now, it looks like we've improved the car a lot," Hand said. "We've made it a long way and we were P4 in the session. We know that a lot of people were doing different things in this session, but for us, we made improvement. I think we are in a lot better shape than we were [earlier] and probably more than other teams expected us to be. All of a sudden, it is up to this car making it the distance and up to us four race car drivers.
"I couldn't have three better teammates. These guys have done it a lot here. I am basically the rookie of this group. Now we've got to put it on our shoulders and get it done. I think we've got a good shot at this thing."
"All of a sudden we've moved way up in the standings," Auberlen said enthusiastically. "I've always said the car is better than what it has showed. And, now it is starting to show what it is capable of doing. We made a pretty long run out there between the two of us [Hand and Auberlen] and the car stayed good, stayed fast. The fast laps came right towards the end [of practice], which is always a good sign.
"We've got a good car and we've had very few problems this weekend, if any, 'knock on wood.' We've got a great driver lineup and a great crew. If we can make it 24 hours, we'll be looking good."
Now with all the practice sessions and qualifying complete, the Ruby Tuesday quartet are set to endure 24 hours of non-stop door-to-door racing against some of the top sports car drivers in the world. In fact, they believe they've got a car that has a shot to win.
"I am quite happy now," Wallace said. "We've got a car that is the best it has been since we've been here. The car is pretty well balanced and I think it is going to be very drivable. So, I am quite happy."
"Every time we've gone out on the track, we've improved the car," Long said. "We are as good as we've been. I think P4 in the final practice before tomorrow's race is pretty good. But, we'll go back tonight and study the data and make our final improvements on the car with race setup in mind. It's no longer about ultimate speed, but consistency, reliability and the ability to work through traffic -- which is going to be the biggest variable during the race. So, I am pretty excited and I'm looking forward to bringing the Ruby Tuesday car as far forward as we can and staying there for the whole race."
"We're pretty good," Team Owner Alex Job said. "The car is now a race car. It's not the fastest car by any means, but it's a good car. This race is not going to be about who is the fastest. It is going to be about being fast enough, but being smart and surviving -- especially through the night. We believe the car is prepared well. The car is certainly going to be driven well. We've got a great driver lineup. Between the great drivers and the great team, we're expecting a good result. So, we feel pretty good right now. This was a good last practice before the race."