Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team still in contention after 18 Hours of Rolex 24 At Daytona DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 27, 2008) -- Despite an overnight rain shower and being one lap down most of the night, the Ruby Tuesday Championship...
Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team still in contention after 18 Hours of Rolex 24 At Daytona
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 27, 2008) -- Despite an overnight rain shower and being one lap down most of the night, the Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing has fought back to fifth and is on the lead lap after 18 hours of the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Rolex 24 At Daytona.
Driving the No. 23 Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team Porsche-powered Crawford Daytona Prototype, teammates Bill Auberlen and Patrick Long pulled double stints in the overnight hours to keep the team in contention for a win.
After being a lap down most of the night, Long drove nearly three seconds a lap faster in the rain than the leaders to earn his way back on the lead lap by lap 470. He ran as high as second before relinquishing the No. 23 machine to teammate Andy Wallace on lap 497.
"I knew that we had a really good car in the wet," Long said. "Greg [Fordahl] has prepared a car for all weather conditions -- that is a testament to his engineering. It was tough. I knew how competitive the car was, but I did not want to be too aggressive in traffic. So, it was about finding that happy medium. I was really happy with the strategy call and we were able to get back on to the lead lap. It is really nice to be back up there. Now, we'll see how it goes in the changing conditions."
During the lap 497 pit stop, the team decided to replace the old rain tires with new rain tires. Two laps after the pit stop, Wallace radioed back to the crew and suggested that the track might be too dry for rains. The team called Wallace back to the pits on lap 500 for a new set of Pirelli slicks.
With new rubber on the No. 23 machine and the track drying out, Wallace did a nice job of keeping the car in the top five before a full course caution came out on lap 515 to clean up multiple incidents. At this point, Joey Hand got in the car for his next stint with about six hours remaining.
"It was a long night," Team Owner Alex Job said. "We spent most of the night trying to get the lap back that we lost earlier in the race. But, we finally got a break and got the lap back. Pat Long did a great job driving. He got us all the way back up to second after the pit stops. Unfortunately, it looked like the track was still wet enough and when we put Andy in [the car] we put wets on. It turned out that it was not wet enough, so we came back in and put drys on. It set us back a little bit, but we're in fifth on the lead and we've still got six hours to go. So, we are certainly within striking distance."