Daytona Beach, Fla.– They say that being lucky can be better than being good, but as Rum Bum Racing showed on Thursday at Daytona International Speedway, being well-prepared can sometimes trump both.
Having the car prepared well in advance of the session, the championship team was first in the qualifying line and ready to go as the 2014 IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar (CTSC) Championship launched with the first grid-setting session of the season.
The two were able to score a fast lap time before a red flag came out, which sent all the cars back to pit lane to wait for the track to go back green. With Longhi putting the No. 13 Rum Bum Racing Porsche on the top spot on the board and Grala nabbing third with the No. 03 Rum Bum Racing BMW M3, it was a long wait for the team before the green flag came back out. When it did, there was but three minutes left on the board.
Once again heading out in formation, but this time mired in traffic, Longhi and Grala looked to make the most of the last lap flyer but were stymied by slow traffic in the bus stop as the checkered flag flew. But Longhi’s first lap time was still good enough to score a spot on the front row, with Grala set to start from the seventh row in 13th.
“The fact of the matter is that in this series, you have to go, right away,” said Longhi, who will share the No. 13 Porsche with Matt Plumb. “It was just about everything the car had. We knew there wouldn't be much time and we were right in the middle of traffic. We gapped a little bit and it worked well until we got into the bus stop and someone was just parked there. But I’m super happy with how the weekend has started-the team put me in position to have that clear track. It was great to get one fast one in before the red flag. We do not have the fastest car at this track, so it was down to the team that put us in this position. I’m amazed by the job that Kaz Grala has done, he's a NASCAR star of the future to keep an eye on, there is no question.”
Grala, who is the youngest driver in IMSA history, will make his Daytona debut tomorrow as he takes the green flag for the first time at the famous circuit before handing the car off to his co-driver Hugh Plumb.
“The Continental tires felt really good - it felt like I had a lot of grip,” said Grala, who is set to co-drive with Hugh Plumb. “We had a pretty good lap, some nice drafting with my teammate. We did catch a bit of traffic on that last lap which unfortunately ended up killing my run on the front stretch. But Nick (Longhi) wasn’t as affected so he ended up really fast and we were just a bit slower. But all in all, it was a really, really good qualifying run and I am pumped for tomorrow. I think we are in a great starting spot and it’s a 2.5-hour race so we should have plenty of time to make up ground.”
Rum Bum Racing