SOUTHARD MOTORSPORTS UNVEILS LINEUP FOR 2007 ROLEX 24 AT DAYTONA Powell, OH (Jan. 9, 2007) Southard Motorsports announced today its driver lineup for the 45th running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona, featuring Shane Lewis, Randy Ruhlman and Graham ...
SOUTHARD MOTORSPORTS UNVEILS LINEUP FOR 2007 ROLEX 24 AT DAYTONA
Powell, OH (Jan. 9, 2007) Southard Motorsports announced today its driver lineup for the 45th running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona, featuring Shane Lewis, Randy Ruhlman and Graham Rahal. Top newcomer Graham Rahal, son of Indy 500 winner and racing legend Bobby Rahal, will join Shane Lewis and Randy Ruhlman for the 24-hour test of endurance in the No. 3 Southard Motorsports/Preformed Line Products Lexus Riley.
Driver lineups for the 2007 Rolex 24 look like a veritable "who's who in racing" and joining that esteemed group will be Southard Motorsports. Southard Motorsports and its drivers have all had success and experience in racing. Two of the drivers, Lewis and Ruhlman, are long-time veterans of the sport and have diverse sprint and endurance series experience, while Rahal has amassed an impressive list of accomplishments for a driver who just celebrated his eighteenth birthday.
"Our goal in 2007 is to expand on our successes of last year. We have improved the car with the addition of Lexus power and a new gearbox and now we have a highly skilled and talented group of drivers for the Rolex 24 At Daytona. Shane and Randy are veterans and Graham brings a young, fresh talent to the team that should complement our team's solid foundation," said Team Owner Steve Southard of his Rolex 24 At Daytona program.
Lewis, a true veteran of endurance racing, has marked over twenty-three 24-Hour races to his credit. This will be his ninth appearance at the Rolex 24 At Daytona. While the other drivers have extensive race experience, both Ruhlman and Rahal made their Rolex 24 At Daytona race debuts last year, Rahal in a GT car and Ruhlman in a Daytona Prototype.
"This will be my twenty-fourth 24-hour race and I'm really looking forward to running our new Lexus Riley at Daytona with Randy and Graham. I think we have a good package and a great driver lineup. I think with a little luck--and you do need that luck in a 24-hour race--we'll again be able to show how competitive we can be," said fourth-year, returning team driver Shane Lewis.
"I started out my career running endurances races," said former Trans-Am star and full season Southard Motorsports driver Randy Ruhlman, "but last year was my first Rolex 24 At Daytona. It's an event without equal--in competition, endurance, and teamwork. With our new car and the Lexus engine package and with Shane's experience and Graham's talent, I think we've got a very strong package for the 24 and will show well out there for our sponsors."
"I'm delighted to be running with Southard Motorsports for my second Daytona 24," said Graham Rahal, a standout in the 2006 Champ Car Atlantic Championship. "I was given a very warm welcome at the test and I settled in quickly with the great crew and with Shane and Randy. With this highly professional team and the Lexus Riley racer, I think we will be up there as one of the leading contenders. We can't underestimate the field of drivers we're up against, which is a truly international field of top-flight racers from F1, NASCAR, Champ Cars, and Sportscars. That makes it all the more exciting for me!"
The Rolex 24 At Daytona is the premier endurance race in the United States and will be held at the 3.56-mile road course at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida. This year will feature NASCAR great Richard Petty as the 2007 Rolex 24 At Daytona Grand Marshall, marking the 45th running of the event. On track activities get under way Thursday, January 25th with both day and night practices. Driver and pit crew practices continue on Friday with the race scheduled to begin on Saturday, January 27th at 1:30 p.m. and run a full 24-hours with the checkered flag on Sunday.
Based in Powell, Ohio, Southard Motorsports reflects the goals and dedication of its owners, Steve and Martha Southard, both former drivers themselves in Historic and Professional racing. One of only two teams to have competed in every Grand American Rolex Daytona Prototype Sports Car event since 2004, they have shown the continuity and commitment that are hallmark to all winning programs. This experience was highlighted in last year's successful Daytona Prototype season, when they captured two podium finishes, a third at the prestigious Long Beach Grand Prix and another third at Phoenix.
Shane Lewis is widely considered one of the sports leading development drivers and has competed in twenty-three 24-Hour Races--nine-times in the Rolex 24 At Daytona, three-times at Le Mans and twice at Nurburgring. Always a fan favorite, Lewis earned two Daytona Prototype podium finishes with Southard Motorsports in 2006, at the Long Beach Grand Prix and Phoenix. He has multiple wins in the Rolex Sports Car Series and Grand-Am KONI Challenge Series and was the 1998 Professional Sports Car Racing Rising Star award winner.
Ruhlman has been a professional driver since 1990 and has extensive racing experience, predominantly in road racing in the Trans-Am Series, as well as in IMSA, ASA and the NASCAR short track series. Last year, Randy Ruhlman drove the No. 40 Preformed Line Products Daytona Prototype for Derhaag Motorsports. Ruhlman was the top American driver in the 2005 Trans-Am Drivers' Championship, holding the points lead throughout the season and scoring a pair of wins--the season opener at the Long Beach Grand Prix and the Cleveland Grand Prix. Ruhlman was named the 2005 BBS "Most Improved Driver of the Year" and makes the record books as fourth in Top Ten finishes in Trans-Am history.
Graham Rahal just turned eighteen, yet has already established himself as one of the US's brightest motorsports talents. As the runner up in the 2006 Champ Car Atlantic Championship, Graham scored five victories (more than any other driver) and became the youngest ever-Atlantic race winner. Beginning in Karts, before spending a season in Formula BMW at age fourteen, Rahal moved on to the Star Mazda Championship where he stood on the podium in six of twelve races and became that series youngest ever race winner. Graham Rahal's success last year in Atlantics, which included 14 season records and the BBS Rising Star award, is propelling his motor racing career toward competing in the 2007 Champ Car World Series.
Earning its first-ever Manufacturer's Championship in 2006, Lexus registered seven victories on the way to capturing the Daytona Prototype crown and scored its first-ever triumph in the prestigious 2006 Rolex 24 At Daytona. Over the past three seasons and forty Rolex Series events, Lexus-powered entries have taken twenty-one pole positions and won fifteen races.
-credit: southard motorsports