VIR: Southard Motorsports race report

No. 3 Preformed Line Products Daytona Prototype A focus on teamwork helps Southard Motorsports No. 3 Preformed Line Products Lexus Riley take twelfth at VIR Grand-Am Daytona Prototype race Alton, VA (May 1, 2007) -- A lot can be said about ...

No. 3 Preformed Line Products Daytona Prototype
A focus on teamwork helps Southard Motorsports No. 3 Preformed Line Products Lexus Riley take twelfth at VIR Grand-Am Daytona Prototype race

Alton, VA (May 1, 2007) -- A lot can be said about teamwork, but nowhere is it more essential than in racing, where the car, engine, drivers, tires, and communications all need to function perfectly just to finish, much less, do well in a race. And it was more than evident this weekend at Virginia International Raceway that teamwork was the key that helped propel Southard Motorsports through adversity to a twelfth place finish in Sunday's Round Four of the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve race.

The 2007 driving partners of Randy Ruhlman and Shane Lewis, who together pilot the Southard Motorsports No. 3 Preformed Line Products Lexus Riley Daytona Prototype, were looking forward to the challenges of driving at the fast and demanding 3.27-mile road course. They were fresh from a testing session at VIR and ready to start the competition. The Southard Motorsports team, likewise, felt strongly that the competitive times turned in testing would serve them well against the other top ranked teams.

Though they worked hard throughout the weekend, the team was never successful in duplicating the times that they recorded in testing. Both drivers worked well together with the team and engineers and quickly determined that there was a major problem with a new part that had been installed. The situation could not be remedied at the track, forcing the team to compensate and make alterations to the setup throughout the weekend.

As Lewis and Ruhlman worked closely with engineer Kris Mellon, the team led by owner Steve Southard fought to make changes and improve the car. By race time, they had found a drivable setup, though far from an ideal one. With a fast start and good, clean restarts, excellent pit stops and heads-up driving, both drivers were able to keep the car in touch with the pack and take advantage of the race as it unfolded. And in one of the best battles of the race, the Southard Motorsports No. 3 Preformed Line Product Lexus Riley was the focus of strong television coverage, as it successfully fought with the No. 59 Porsche Riley for position in the closing laps of race to finish twelfth after two and one-half hours of demanding competition.

"We were so good at the test a few weeks ago and to come back with so many problems is very frustrating, but we'll take the twelfth place finish. This was a true team effort," said team owner Steve Southard. "Everybody did what they needed to, engineering, crew, both drivers. Everyone worked so well as a team. I'm really proud of the efforts they put in. We're headed back to the shop. We know what we need to do, and we'll get ready to show them what we have at Laguna in a few weeks."

-credit: sm

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