Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team fights handling issues in Mexico City 250 AJR Header Image MEXICO CITY - The Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team finished 13th, despite an ill-handling car, in today's Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series ...
Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team fights handling issues in Mexico City 250
AJR Header Image MEXICO CITY - The Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team finished 13th, despite an ill-handling car, in today's Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 Mexico City 250.
Driving the No. 23 Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team Porsche-powered Crawford Daytona Prototype, Bill Auberlen started on the inside of row six for today's 100-lap round three race. Through the first 21 laps, Auberlen managed to pick up five positions and was in sixth place when the first full course caution came out. This is when Auberlen made a fuel only pit stop.
When the race went green on lap 25, Auberlen was in fifth and moved to fourth one lap later (the highest position the team ran all day). However, shortly after he made this move, the car started to have some handling issues and Auberlen began to lose positions quickly. He lost six positions over the next 11 laps.
Losing positions, Auberlen radioed the crew to ask them when he should pit. The team's strategy was to have him make a full pit stop on lap 40 and put teammate Joey Hand in the car. On lap 38, Auberlen had an accident happen right in front of him just before the pit entrance. With the wreck in front of him, he knew this would bring out a full-course caution and made a last second decision to come to pit lane for his stop.
"I think I got overzealous when I saw the crash happen," Auberlen said of his decision to pit when he did. "I thought it would have been a great time to make up track position. I wanted to try to duck in before the pace car was dispatched, which would have been a great thing had I given the team a bit more time.
"Despite my quick decision, I don't think we had the pace to stay with anyone today. I mean we ran hard. In the race, the car was the best it had been all weekend. I was much happier with it [with the car] in the race. We tried our best."
Unfortunately, this opportunistic moment happened too quickly for the team to respond adequately. The stop took longer than expected and when Hand returned to the track he was one lap down. At this point, the team told Hand to run consistent laps and concentrate on getting the lap back because there were more than 60 laps remaining.
On lap 52, Hand was working hard to earn his lap back. He was right behind the race leading No. 58 Porsche Riley, when the then third place No. 01 Lexus Riley tapped Hand in the right rear spinning the No. 23 machine. Unfortunately, the move by the No. 01 cost the Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team another lap.
After this incident, the No. 23 Porsche Crawford was never quite the same. In fact, the handling issues proceeded to get worse, which ultimately led to a 13th place finish.
"Bill made the right decision to come to the pits when he saw the wreck," Hand said. "Unfortunately, I wasn't as ready as I could have been, which cost us some time. But, we got out there as quick as we could and we were one lap down with the leader was right in front of us under yellow.
"I was going to try to make an attempt to get around the leader on the restart, but I just didn't go. The [No.] 77 car close and I held him off. Then, the next time by, we were having major problems with the 'Peraltada' and the [No.] 77 got a run on me and I took him to the bottom. I could tell I could not stop him and I let him in there. That's when the [No.] 01 car must have thought he had a hole. He just hit me in the right rear corner and turned me right around. It was not the death of us. Come to find out, we just had major pick up on the tires and it just wouldn't go. I ran as hard as I could. I did everything I could, but we just didn't have the car today."
"Bill and Joey did a nice job of persevering through some of handling issues they faced today," team owner Alex Job said. "Fortunately, they were able to bring the car home safely and helped us score some valuable points to keep us in the championship hunt."