Iowa: Southard Motorsports preview

Mark Martin to drive with Lewis and Ruhlman at Iowa Speedway race in Southard Motorsports Daytona Prototype Powell, Ohio (July 8, 2007) -- When the Southard Motorsports No. 3 Preformed Line Products Lexus Riley sets off for the starting line ...

Mark Martin to drive with Lewis and Ruhlman at Iowa Speedway race in Southard Motorsports Daytona Prototype

Powell, Ohio (July 8, 2007) -- When the Southard Motorsports No. 3 Preformed Line Products Lexus Riley sets off for the starting line at Iowa Speedway on Friday, July 13, it will have a special guest behind the wheel, NASCAR great Mark Martin. Martin will join drivers Randy Ruhlman and Shane Lewis, as they take on the new 1.3-mile, Rusty Wallace-designed road course at Iowa Speedway for Round 9 of the Grand-Am Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve.

While Mark Martin is no newcomer to the world of sports cars or road racing, the Iowa event will be his first time driving in a Grand-Am Daytona Prototype race. Martin, who has numerous NASCAR Nextel Cup wins, also holds the distinction of being part of four GT victories at the Rolex 24 At Daytona. Earlier this week, at a pre-race press conference held at Daytona International Speedway before the Grand-Am and Nextel Cup races, the three drivers--Martin, Lewis, and Ruhlman, along with Iowa Speedway designer Rusty Wallace, talked about the upcoming Grand-Am race at the Newton, Iowa track.

Martin commented, "We've been hearing about the Speedway at Iowa for quite some time now, and I hadn't had a chance to get out there yet. The opportunity came up this year...and I jumped right at the chance to race on the road course and to run one of these cars. It should be really quite an experience. I've been able to watch them run and I'm looking forward to it. I've got some good teachers here to talk me through this, so I'm just planning on having a good time out there. I'm excited about it. And [the race] is in a region where we don't get to too often. I'm sure we're going to get to see a lot of race fans who ordinarily won't get a chance to see us race."

"Mark is a tremendous driver," says Ruhlman. "He's had so much success in NASCAR and on the ovals that people don't remember that he's an excellent road racer, too. There is no doubt that he'll do a great job in the Prototype, they are fun cars. I don't think there's much we can teach him, maybe the other way around. But it's energizing to have him be part of the team for this race. And with DP never having raced at Iowa before, I think we'll all have a lot of learning to do here in these cars. It should be a great race."

"I've never been there in a DP car, but I can say from before that Iowa is definitely a fan-friendly place," says Lewis, who had the opportunity to race at the Iowa Speedway earlier this year in a Koni Challenge ST car. "It will be a really exciting race to watch and to be a part of. We'll have the benefit of Grand-Am and NASCAR knowledge on the team, and we're definitely looking to be competitive, but there's also a fun factor that is important, too. I'm looking forward to the Prototype race and driving with Mark and Randy. I think it will be fun for us all."

A track sponsored test day on Thursday, July 11, will help the teams prepare for Friday's official practice and the 5 p.m. Friday qualifying session. The 400-K race at the newly built Iowa Speedway starts at 8 p.m. CDT for 192-laps or 2 1/2 hours on the 1.3-mile road course oval in Newton, Iowa, just outside of Des Moines. The race will be broadcast same-day delayed on Friday, July 13th at 10 p.m. ET.

The No. 3 Preformed Line Products Daytona Prototype is campaigned by Southard Motorsports of Powell, Ohio. The Riley chassis is powered by Lexus engines with technical expertise by TRD Engineering and carries sponsorship from Preformed Line Products from Mayfield Village, Ohio.

Mark Martin will be doing double duty this weekend, competing in the Grand-Am Daytona Prototype event at Iowa Speedway, as well as in the NASCAR event at Chicagoland. Martin has compiled one of the most successful careers in NASCAR history, and his 35 wins are the third among active drivers. A true legend within the sport, Martin enters his 25th season of NEXTEL Cup racing, the last 19 of which he spent behind the wheel of the No. 6 Roush Racing car. He is currently fourth in Nextel Cup's all-time standings and his name appears in the top 10 of several of NASCAR's all-time lists with an impressive 16 top-10 points finish in the past 18 seasons.

-credit: sm

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Shane Lewis , Rusty Wallace , Randy Ruhlman , Mark Martin