Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team finishes fourth at The Glen WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. - Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team drivers Bill Auberlen and Joey Hand finished fourth in tonight's Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Round 11 race at ...
Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team finishes fourth at The Glen
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. - Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team drivers Bill Auberlen and Joey Hand finished fourth in tonight's Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Round 11 race at Watkins Glen International.
With a threat of rain just prior to the start of the Crown Royal 200, teams had a big decision to make. Would they start on wet or dry tires? The Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team made the decision to start the race on dries. And, the decision paid early dividends, as Auberlen was able to move up from his seventh starting position to fourth by lap five.
However, it wasn't that easy for Auberlen. In fact, he had his hands full trying to deal with some difficult weather conditions. It was raining on parts of the track, while other parts were dry. Soon the rain covered the entire track and Auberlen had to do his best to keep the No. 23 Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team Porsche-powered Riley on the track with the dry tires on it. Fortunately, he was able to preserve through those conditions, while staying in the top five before pitting on lap 26 for a driver change and fuel.
"During my stint, I had to deal with some changing weather," Auberlen said. "We went back and forth between wet and dry conditions, which were pretty treacherous. No driver wants to deal with that. There were times when I was in sixth gear going flat out down the straight and the car turned sideways at 150 [mph]."
"Bill did a great job to persevere through tough conditions," Team Owner Alex Job said. "He could have thrown it away at any lap. He was driving on a wet track with slick tires. It turned out to be a good call in terms of strategy. But, it was definitely difficult on Bill. He did what he had to do to keep it on the track. He kept it in a good position for Joey."
"Bill did what he had to do [to keep the car on the track]," Hand said. "He had to deal with some really crazy conditions - rain and dry [conditions] on slick tires. As a driver, I know from experience that those are some of the toughest condition to drive in. You are running 15 to 20 seconds off of the pace on slick tires. That means that it was really slippery out there."
Interestingly, the team decided not to change tires during its stop. In fact, they decided to stay on the same dry tires that they started the race on. The team was gambling that the track conditions would improve and dry out. In the end, the decision paid off.
Once Hand got in the car, he had some issues of his own to deal with. About halfway through his stint, he had to begin conserving fuel in order to make it to the end. The team did not want a repeat of the Montreal race where they came up a half a lap short of the finish. So, not only did Hand have to try to catch the leaders, but he also had to do in fuel conservation mode.
On lap 64, he began his charge. He passed the No. 76 Pontiac Lola for fourth and was quickly catching the No. 58 Porsche Riley for third. It must have seemed like dejà vu for Hand, as he found himself in the exact same position he was in last weekend - trying to chase down the No. 58, while trying to conserve fuel. Unfortunately, Hand could not get around the No. 58 for the final podium spot and finished fourth.
"When I got in the car, it felt like I was getting thrown into the lions den," Hand said of his early stint in the car. "There were some guys who hadn't pitted when we did and I got out right in front of them. And, they already knew what the track conditions were like. They were in a groove, while I was out there tippy-toeing around trying to find my way. Just then, two cars went by me. I was like 'oh man.' I was just trying to get with it and not wreck. Unfortunately, that is the easiest time to get in trouble and wreck.
"Then I found my groove and the car just got better and better. I don't know how they do it, but every race Greg Fordahl and all the guys throw a setup on that works. This team really works well together and now we've got some momentum going."
"Joey did an incredible job again today like he did the last race," Job said. "He marched it right back to the front. Unfortunately, we just finished a couple seconds off the podium, which would have been great. This is a very strong finish for us. We had the second fastest race lap, which we did not expect after our performance yesterday [in qualifying]. It shows that we are really coming. We're going to be on the podium here real soon. I am just so proud of my team and drivers. And, our engineer Greg Fordahl had the best car for the race."
"We had a good car at the end," Auberlen said. "The AJR/Ruby Tuesday car is unstoppable. We came here this weekend and struggled early. And, now we're looking good. These guys are the best. With every race, we are becoming more aware of everything. We controlled the situation today, rather than letting the situation control us. That is what this team is about. It is about responding, reacting and then making all the right moves. And, they made all the right moves today."