DAYTONA DOUBLE--RUM BUM WINS SEASON OPENING RACE
Second consecutive Daytona win for the team, and third in a row going back to last season.
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., 28 January - The No. 13 Rum Bum Racing BMW M3 driven by Matt Plumb and Nick Longhi won the season opening race for the GRAND-AM Continental Sports Car Challenge at Daytona International Speedway. It was both a dominant and thrilling performance from the squad that was clearly the team to beat. The result makes the team two-for-two in Daytona race victories, having won the 2010 running of the event in the team's debut race outing.
Longhi led the two and a half hour race from the pole, but it wasn't long before he needed to ease up. The first full course caution came only four laps in, followed by another after only two further laps of green flag racing. Having fulfilled the required 30 minutes behind the wheel to score championship points and looking to launch a competitive fuel strategy, crew chief Joe Varde called him in from the lead for fuel, four tires and a driver change.
"I started the race comfortably making sure that I drove cleanly and smoothly. I was able to open a gap without pushing too hard, but the two yellows gave away whatever lead I had," said Longhi. "My job was to hand over a clean race car to Matt with a bit of a margin if possible. We managed one out of two. But for me I was thinking about the championship and the big picture so I didn't take any risks, just tried to keep it up front."
The yellow flags would continue to play a role in Varde's strategy that would play to the car and driver's strengths of speed balanced with good fuel economy and tire management.
"We had a quick car and great stops, but the yellows are really how we made it," echoed Plumb. "Joe's strategy, as always, worked to perfection. If I could just manage the fuel and tires, then we knew we had a solid chance of winning."
Plumb returned the No.13 to the fray on lap 11 in 28th position. His speed combined with others needing to make their first pit stops enabled him to make up lost ground quickly. By lap 26, he had cracked the top-10, and only four laps later was dicing for the lead. At half distance, the Rum Bum BMW was back in the lead and thanks to the fuel economy and tire management strategy, Plumb was able to run a few laps longer while many of his rivals were heading for the pits and their second stop.
On lap 35, Plumb brought the No. 13 in for a full service from the lead, returning in seventh place. Immediately after, the third of four caution periods ensued. Yet again, while others chose to pit for a splash of fuel, Plumb remained on track.
When the racing resumed, Plumb was in second place and chasing down the leading BMW M3, finally retaking the point with a strong move into turn 1 on lap 46.
The pair of Turner Motorsports BMWs were the first to apply the pressure, before the No. 97 car suddenly fell off the pace. Then it was the turn of the No. 15 Mustang to apply some pressure, but Plumb was able to manage the gap sufficiently to never let the Mustang mount a credible challenge. A final caution period allowed Plumb to cruise to the finish line to take Rum Bum Racing's fourth series win and third in a row dating back to the final two races of 2010.
"I was managing the pace well enough at the end, because the Mustang was coming fast. But when I needed to, I was able to push hard enough for a couple laps to maintain or build the margin and then return to running a comfortably fast pace and avoid overheating the tires and brakes," said Plumb.
The overall vision and strategy deployed by team owner and co-manager Luis L. Bacardi continues to build momentum for the Rum Bum Racing squad as it enters its sophomore season looking for wins, as well as shot at the overall title. With one win firmly in the bank, they're on track to do just that. The team will look to bring the momentum to the home track at Homestead Miami Speedway in March.
-source: rum bum racing