VIR: Southard Motorsports preview

Daytona Prototype drivers Lewis and Ruhlman look for good finish at VIR in Southard Motorsports No. 3 Preformed Line Products Lexus Riley Alton, VA (April 26, 2007) -- Ready to challenge for a top position this weekend at Virginia International...

Daytona Prototype drivers Lewis and Ruhlman look for good finish at VIR in Southard Motorsports No. 3 Preformed Line Products Lexus Riley

Alton, VA (April 26, 2007) -- Ready to challenge for a top position this weekend at Virginia International Raceway in Round Four of the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve are Daytona Prototype drivers Shane Lewis and Randy Ruhlman. The pair, driving for Southard Motorsports, is fresh from a testing session at the track and ready to start the competition.

At Round Two in Mexico City, Lewis and Ruhlman establish themselves on track, as the team and car were the focus of strong television coverage while the No. 3 Preformed Line Product Lexus Riley did battle as one of the front running cars in the Daytona Prototype field. Southard Motorsports continued the high expectations at Homestead in Round Three, when the Grand-Am Rolex Series hit the southern Florida road course in March.

Round Four brings the Grand-Am Daytona Prototypes to the heart of the Mid-Atlantic, near Danville, Virginia, where both Randy Ruhlman and Shane Lewis have had driving experience at Virginia International Raceway. Lewis has a couple of track records to his name and won last year's KONI Challenge race, while Ruhlman, who drove here last year in the No. 40 Daytona Prototype, has also seen race action at the track in the 2002 Trans-Am Series with the No. 49 Preformed Line Products Corvette.

The 2007 driving partners of Lewis and Ruhlman are looking forward to the challenges of driving the Lexus Riley Daytona Prototype at the fast and demanding, 3.27-mile road course. "VIR has to be one of my favorite tracks on the Grand-Am schedule," says Lewis. "It has everything a driver could want, high speed sweeping corners, hills and elevation changes, tight technical corners and a flat-out, uphill straight away. A real driver's track. It really can't get any better anywhere in North America."

Ruhlman echoes his agreement about the VIR track, "It's a great track," underscores Ruhlman. "Racing on it is challenging, too. There aren't a lot of passing areas, but driving the car here is just plain fun. It was great driving in the Trans-Am car here, really a lot of fun. But truthfully, it's so much better in the Prototype. You can go flat out in the Esses and it's just a cool track to drive. I think with the testing and experience we have as drivers and as a team, we have a good shot at showing well again this weekend."

This weekend's 400K feature race follows a weekend full of racing activity. Two practice sessions are scheduled for Friday, with another before Saturday's 2:40 p.m. qualifying. The Sunday, April 29th race begins at 1 p.m. EDT and is scheduled for 77-laps or 2 1/2-hours. Full coverage of the race begins Live at 1 p.m. EDT on the SPEED Channel.

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. Shane Lewis is a four-year veteran of the Southard Motorsports and part of the team's two Grand-Am podium finishes last year. Randy Ruhlman joined the team this year after running last year in Daytona Prototypes and following a successful career in the Trans-Am Series.

Lewis is widely considered one of the sports leading development drivers and has competed in twenty-four 24 Hour Races--nine-times in the Rolex 24 At Daytona, three-times at Le Mans and twice at Nurburgring. Always a fan favorite, Shane 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.

Randy 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, 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.

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 and the team was pivotal in winning the inaugural Jim Truman Driver's Award. Southard Motorsports' experience and knowledge was highlighted by last year's successful Daytona Prototype season, as they captured two podium finishes, a third at the prestigious Long Beach Grand Prix and another third at Phoenix.

-credit: sm

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Shane Lewis , Randy Ruhlman