Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team has impressive showing in Rolex 24 At Daytona despite late engine troubles

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 27, 2008) -- Just a couple hours after the sun came up on the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Rolex 24 At Daytona, the Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team suffered a disappointing blow when something happened to No. 23 Porsche-powered Crawford Daytona Prototype engine.

Driver Joey Hand was running third with nearly four hours remaining in the race when the crew noticed light smoke coming from the rear of the No. 23 machine. At first, they thought it might be a light tire rub and told him that there was some smoke coming from the car. Hand radioed back and said he didn't feel anything wrong. Just about that time, more smoke trailed behind the car and the team told him to pit.

On lap 569, Hand brought the car to pit lane thinking it might be a tire problem. When Hand stopped in the pit box, Hand got out of the car (completing his third consecutive stint) and Bill Auberlen got in. As the team diagnosed the problem, they noticed a lot of fluid under the car and pushed it back to the garage. Once in the garage, the team realized its day was finished due to an engine problem.

"I just wheel when I am told to wheel," Hand said of third consecutive stint. "I drive as hard as I can all the time and as long as I possibly can. And, that's what I did in this race. These guys put a lot of heart and dedication into this program and the least I could do is give it my all. I coach a lot of kids in go karts and I tell them, 'I'll either win or I'll put on a show.' And, I think we did a great job of putting on a show for Ruby Tuesday and Alex Job.

"We proved that we're going to be contenders. Bill and I are going to be in this car the rest of the season. It was a real pleasure to drive with Pat Long and Andy Wallace. I think we had a team that could have won today. This result was very disappointing because fourth place was five laps back. All I had to do was keep it out of the fence and we would've been fine. Porsche gave us a new, great motor, which is what kept us in the race all night long."

"I told you this car was going to race better than it practiced," Auberlen said encouragingly. "And, it raced like a great piece of machinery with a great team behind it. Everything was going our way. We had a five lap lead on fourth. At worst, I thought, 'Let's bring this thing home, get a podium, and get some points.' But, this is racing. You can count your eggs before they hatch.

"This was disappointing. I am not disappointed so much for myself because I've been racing this race since I was 17 years old. I've won it a few times, but I've lost it more than I've won it. So, I am use to it. But, when you see the crew that have been working all night long with their faces black from all of rubber and brake dust, with no sleep, you feel bad for them. Alex Job, the team and all the guys did phenomenal job and I just want to thank them."

"The whole crew prepared the car flawlessly," driver Andy Wallace said. "And, my co-drivers did a fantastic job throughout all of the changing conditions. It was sure nice to see ourselves at the top of the board for quite a long time. Our team put a lot of effort into this race and this year it wasn't meant to be."

"It's very disappointing," Team Owner Alex Job said. "We had a roller coaster ride for about 20 hours. We led a couple of different times. Something happened to the engine. I feel real bad for the drivers because they gave it everything. I feel real bad for the crew. They also gave it everything because they don't sleep. They work straight through. I feel bad for Porsche because we came real close to winning this thing. But, unfortunately it was not today."

-credit: ajr