Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team finishes 11th at Laguna Seca MONTEREY, Calif. - The Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team finished 11th in today's caution-filled Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Rum Bum.com 250 at Mazda Raceway Laguna ...
Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team finishes 11th at Laguna Seca
MONTEREY, Calif. - The Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team finished 11th in today's caution-filled Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Rum Bum.com 250 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
Driver Joey Hand started fourth in the No. 23 Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team Porsche-powered Crawford Daytona prototype and led 11 of his 59-lap stint. He also turned the team's fastest race lap with a 1:20.873 on lap 28. To that point in the race, the team had been running up front and the car appeared to be really strong. But, just as Hand turned the No. 23 machine over to teammate Bill Auberlen under caution on lap 59, the team's luck began to change.
Auberlen came down pit lane to re-enter the race and had the No. 7 BWM Riley on his right. Just as the two cars neared pit out, the No. 10 Pontiac Dallara came out of his pit stall and made contact with the left front of the No. 23 machine. As a result, it knocked the car's nose loose. The team felt the nose would stay connected and told Auberlen to stay out on track. But, shortly after the race went green on lap 61, it came off just as the caution came out because the No. 7 BMW Riley caught fire.
Auberlen brought the No. 23 Porsche Crawford back to pit lane for a new nose piece. When the race went green on lap 69, Auberlen was in 14th. The team got word from Grand-Am officials that it had to serve a stop and go penalty for not giving the No. 7 the right-of-way exiting pit out. Simultaneously, the No. 10 also received a stop and go for making contact with Auberlen.
On lap 70, Auberlen served the stop and go penalty and was still 14th with 45 minutes remaining in the 98-lap race. Unfortunately, the last 45 minutes was marred by cautions, which did little to help the Ruby Tuesday team finish in the top-10.
"We had a quick car all weekend," Hand said. "We should have been in the top-three all day long. We were for most of it. But, then we had some poor timing. We pulled out in the pit lane after our pit stop. The [No.] 7 car was in the fast lane and Bill could not blend in in time [at pit out]. Then, the [No.] 10 car came out of the pits and hit us and knocked the nose off the car. Unfortunately, they [Grand-Am officials] gave us a stop and go [penalty]. It was kind of a crazy deal. But, that is where the race ended for us. We just ran out of time with yellow after yellow.
"We really needed a good finish here. This was not what we were working for today. It was not for lack of trying. But, it just wasn't meant to be today."
"It was typical Laguna," Auberlen said after the race. "It was mayhem. The Ruby Tuesday car won here last year and we tried like heck to do it again. Joey was great. I had been quick all weekend. We were a car to be reckoned with. The team has got the Ruby Tuesday Porsche Crawford running better than it ever has and we're happy with the car. But, a lot of little weird circumstances took place in this race that put us back. It's a real shame. I feel really bad for the team. They've worked very hard. We need to turn this thing around, stay in the championship hunt and keep on going."
"The guys ran exceptionally well," Team Engineer Greg Fordahl said. "I think that as a team we missed it a little bit on the restarts. Of course being here at Laguna, there are so many yellows and we kept dropping tire pressure, which made it difficult for the guys on the restarts. They had to wait four or five laps sometimes before they could go racing. Once the car was up to speed and temp, it was definitely competitive with the other cars.
"Racing luck is racing luck. We were put five or six positions back from where we should have been because of being run over in pit lane. And, then there was an odd call by the officials as far as the judging of that incident."
The Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series heads east for the Sahlen's Six Hours of the Glen at Watkins Glen International June 6-7.