Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team sixth halfway through Rolex 24 At Daytona DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 27, 2008) -- Halfway through the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Rolex 24 At Daytona, the Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team is still...
Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team sixth halfway through Rolex 24 At Daytona
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 27, 2008) -- Halfway through the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Rolex 24 At Daytona, the Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team is still in contention for the win, running sixth.
After leading at the six hour mark, driver Joey Hand had built a 40 second lead in the rain and led 25 laps before turning the No. 23 Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team Porsche-powered Crawford Daytona Prototype over to teammate Bill Auberlen. Auberlen led 27 of his 33-lap stint. Combined, Hand and Auberlen led 52 laps.
"I made a little mistake, but it ended up working out for us," Hand said of his second stint. "I got forced off by a Porsche and it knocked some of the splitter off. So, we came in to check it out and we took some tires.
"When we went back out, we ended up in front of the leaders. [On the caution] we got a wave by so we got back on the lead lap. Then, Mike [Evans] and Alex [Job] made the call that it was going to rain and decided to take a chance and put on rain tires. When it went green, we came in and put on rains. And, sure enough it started to pour down rain. It was the right call. I've had a lot of practice in the rain -- from go karts to Formula Mazda to the American Le Mans Series. So, I felt pretty comfortable in the rain. I took my time and found a line. I kind of like the rain. I took off and got a 40 second lead. It was pretty cool. My dad, my wife and all my friends back home watching got to see me lead the Rolex 24 Hour for a good hour or so."
On lap 220, driver Patrick Long began his second stint in the No. 23 machine not feeling well. But, he was not going to let that stop him from keeping his Porsche Crawford out of the top three during his 41-lap stint.
"I wasn't feeling well when I got in the car," Long said of his second stint. "But, I actually felt fine once things got started. The challenge for me that stint was a lot of yellow flags with warm tires. The car seemed to react differently with the warm tire on the restart. I think we were getting a little bit of pick up. So, that was something new. But, other than that, I think the guys made a great call on the aero change. We made an update to the aero and lost a little bit on the straight, but I think we've gained in stability. We've got to keep in mind that we are up front, but this is a long race. I am not about to get overzealous and make a bad move when we've got to protect this car. It is still so early. I am really adamant about keeping things calm."
Andy Wallace began his second stint on lap 261 and found himself in eighth place after all of the green flag pit stops cycled through. With Wallace in the car, he began to have difficulty seeing through the pit-filled windshield. The lack of clear visibility forced him to slow his pace a bit.
"The biggest problem right now is you can't see where you are going," Wallace said about the visibility. "The windshield is completely obliterated. I can't see the apex. I can't see the brake zone. I can't see if it's raining or not. I was in survival mode trying to keep it on the road. It would be nice to be going faster, but you can't see. We'd like to be a little quicker, but at least we are in one piece. There is still a long way to go."
With Wallace still in the car on lap 271, the 12th caution of the race came out. Unfortunately for the Ruby Tuesday team the race leading No. 58 Porsche Riley did not pit under caution and the No. 23 went a lap down.
"The Ruby Tuesday Porsche is running great," Auberlen said of the car's performance halfway through the race. "The guys are doing a great job. We went a lap down due to some bad luck with other cars. They did not pit when they should have and that sort of trapped us. And, now we are concentrating on getting our lap back. We're moving up again. The car is strong. We've got to keep it together until the sun comes up and then we go racing."
On lap 302, Hand got back into the No. 23 Porsche Crawford for his third stint and was in sixth place one lap down halfway through the 24 hour event.
"At 12 hours, we are running sixth," Team Owner Alex Job said. "Unfortunately, we are a lap down. We pitted under green and immediately after that a yellow came out. The leader at that time elected to stay out and not pit, which hurt us and put us a lap down. Had they pitted, we would have been fine. So, we're still fighting to get that lap back. But, leaders are a little quicker than we are. So, we are trying to stay close and that should put us back in the hunt."
With 12 hours remaining, the Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team will need a little help, some luck and a solid effort by all four drivers to earn a victory at the Rolex 24.