Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team Qualifies Seventh for Rolex 24 at Daytona DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 25, 2007) -- Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team driver Patrick Long, of Las Vegas, Nev., qualified the No. 23 Ruby Tuesday Championship...
Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team Qualifies Seventh for Rolex 24 at Daytona
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 25, 2007) -- Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team driver Patrick Long, of Las Vegas, Nev., qualified the No. 23 Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team Porsche Crawford Daytona Prototype seventh with at time of 1:44.205 (122.988 mph), in preparation for the Grand-Am Rolex Series Rolex 24 at Daytona Jan. 27-28.
The Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team almost put the car on the pole for the second straight year, as Long set the pace early in the qualifying session (with a 1:47.172) before a full-course caution came out to retrieve the No. 60 Pontiac Riley from the Turn One tire barrier.
"I knew there was a chance of something going wrong early on in the session," Long said of his strategy to turn a fast lap early. "There was rain, from earlier today, that was still on parts of the track. So, there was a chance of someone making a big mistake -- which happened. We played our cards well anticipating something like this happening."
"It (the pole position) looked pretty good at that time." Job said responding to the possibility of putting the car on the pole. "But, I thought, 'I am sure they are going to get this thing going.' It would have been nice if they hadn't restarted the session."
Once the car was removed from the tire barrier, there were six minutes remaining in the 15 minute session. With that in mind, the team knew that Long would need to find more speed to retain the top spot. Long did find some more speed, but the team had to settle for a slot on the inside of row four.
"I am happy enough with the performance of the team and myself," Long said of his qualifying effort. "Compared to the pre-test here earlier in the month, the car is much more drivable and is a better race car. We've focused on making this a 24-hour race car and I think we've achieve that goal. It reflected a little bit in our qualifying time. We're in the top ten. We're in the show. We're safe and our car is in one piece. So, overall I am happy. Now we are going to get Jorg [Bergmeister] and Romain [Dumas] in the car, get them comfortable with the set up and work towards a 24-hour car, which I think we've got a pretty good one."
"Last year we were on the pole, which was very important in my hunt for a sponsor," Job said of the difference between this year's qualifying effort and last year's. "Fortunately, Ruby Tuesday came along and now we have a great relationship with them. It would have been great for us to get a pole for them today. But, we really have not found the speed this year that we did last year. We gave it our best shot. But, our best shot was only good enough for eighth today. Quite frankly, we are not used to qualifying like that. The new tire has thrown quite a curve to any of the cars other than the Riley. We are the second quickest Crawford. But, you know it's a long race. The race is all about the team. The team is the drivers, the crew and the preparation. It is good to start up front. But, the only lap I care to lead is the last one with the checkered flag."
The team will continue to make race trim adjustments in the practice sessions tonight and tomorrow, searching for that right combination that will put the car in victory lane. Long finished third in last year's Rolex 24 in the DP class, He will make his fourth consecutive Rolex 24 start. His three previous starts include two GT class starts and one DP start, respectively.
The German Bergmeister is a two-time winner of the Rolex 24 at Daytona and will make his sixth consecutive start. He is looking for his first-ever Rolex 24 win in a Daytona Prototype. He captured the GT class win in 2002 and was the overall winner in 2003. His best Rolex 24 finish in a Daytona Prototype was fifth in 2006.
Frenchman Dumas will make his third Rolex 24 start and his second in a Daytona Prototype. Dumas made his Rolex 24 debut in 2002, finishing third in the GT class and 10th overall.
Race fans will be able to follow the Ruby Tuesday Championship Race Team at the Daytona Beach Ruby Tuesday restaurant, located at 1808 International Speedway Blvd. across from the Daytona International Speedway, as it will be open for the duration of the 24-hour race. Ruby Tuesday will serve from its full menu and will also offer guests some breakfast favorites from 11 p.m. to 10 a.m. on Jan. 28.