Ruhlman qualifies fifth for tomorrow's Trans-Am race in Puerto Rico.

San Juan, Puerto Rico (Oct 25) -- Randy Ruhlman will be starting fifth for the Trans-Am race at the inaugural Grand Prix of Puerto Rico tomorrow. This will be the final race of the eleven race 2003 season of the Motorock Trans-Am Tour for the BFGoodrich Tires® Cup.

Ruhlman was able to put together a time of 1:06.540 on the 1.6 mile, ten turn track. "The track is still a bit slippery. We have been doing some extensive work on the setup and went out for qualifying trying something that we hoped would work. We were pretty excited about things after the first session, but we went backwards in the second session and were incredibly loose everywhere," says Ruhlman. "We fixed that for qualifying and have a decent setup now for the race."

"One thing I think will happen out here during the race is that about halfway through the race, setup won't really matter. It is going to be a battle of survival, of being able to stay on track, pass without getting hit, and just being able to stay alive for the whole race. The track surface is a bit sandy, and it can be a bit hard to see when the sun is on the windshield. I think we are ok for the race, but with 11 rookies out there and some intense points battles, it could get interesting."

It will indeed be a tough battle this weekend, as four drivers have little to lose in trying to get to that coveted fifth place in the Driver's Championship. Ruhlman is poised just twelve points from fifth in the series. Randy Ruhlman has 168 points and is currently seventh. Bobby Sak overtook Ruhlman at Miami, when Ruhlman scored out of the points after an early mishap with the wall.

Moving into sole possession of fifth today with 180 points, Bobby Sak gained two points today for his second fast qualifying at Puerto Rico. Sak, though, crashed after turning in his fast time, and will either fix that car or start at the back in a backup car. Stu Hayner is sitting in sixth with 178 points, but is not racing this event. A win is worth 30 points and fifth is 21 points, with the points descending by one thereafter. There are also bonus points for the top three in qualifying and for leading a lap.

The inaugural Grand Prix of Puerto Rico is set to begin on Sunday at 2 PM AST, and will be run Live on SPEED at 1PM EST. Round Eleven is the final race of the 2003 season and is scheduled for 63 laps and a 100.8 mile distance.

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Ruhlman's Chevrolet Corvette is fielded this year by the Minneapolis-based, Derhaag Motorsports team, led by former Trans-Am driver Jim Derhaag. Jim Derhaag himself made 150 starts as a driver in the Trans-Am Series before his successful move to full time ownership in 1998. The team has fielded many successful drivers, including top Trans-Am drivers Justin Bell, Kenny Wilden, Tony Ave, Dorsey Schroeder, Chris Neville and Darin Brassfield.

-dm-