Derhaag Motorsports Daytona Prototype finishes twelfth at Mid-Ohio Lexington, OH (June 26, 2006) -- It was a wild weekend in Mid-Ohio, as intense weather and racing made for an action-packed Round 9 of the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series...
Derhaag Motorsports Daytona Prototype finishes twelfth at Mid-Ohio
Lexington, OH (June 26, 2006) -- It was a wild weekend in Mid-Ohio, as intense weather and racing made for an action-packed Round 9 of the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve. Derhaag Motorsports with drivers Chris Bingham and Randy Ruhlman made the most of it by taking the #40 Preformed Line Products Pontiac Riley to a twelfth place finish in Saturday's Daytona Prototype endurance race. On hand for the three-hour EMCO Gears Classic presented by KeyBank at the a 2.258-mile Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course were over 350 guests from the team's major sponsors, Preformed Line Products and KeyBank, both local Cleveland-area companies.
A huge cell of thunderstorms pounded the track late Thursday afternoon after a rainy day of practice. Torrential rain, wind, and tornadic activity caused major damage at the race track; trees were down in the infield, every canopy in pit lane was shredded and twisted, and several hospitality tents collapse or ended up in trees or on-track. Local towns and hotels spent a dark night, many without power or water.
By Friday, with the clean up well underway, intermittent morning rain made car setup and practice difficult, as warm temperatures and clear skies were predicted for Saturday's race. Derhaag Motorsports used the dry Saturday morning pre-race session to make final set-up changes to the #40 Daytona Prototype. "We hadn't gotten much time in the car on Thursday or Friday, but we changed a few things today during practice, and I loved the car. It was fun, it was fast, and most importantly, it handled well and was predictable. We had a great car at the end of the session, and I was able to go through traffic right with Andy Wallace in the #4 BOSS car. I couldn't wait to get back in it for the race," said Randy Ruhlman, a native of Cleveland, Ohio, about the pre-race practice.
Starting in the 15th spot for the 5:30 PM green flag, Chris Bingham took the car flawlessly through the start and first stint of driving. Unfortunately, the newly paved track changed dramatically from the practice session and Bingham was forced to work hard almost immediately to maintain his place. With a good pit strategy, the team held Chris out at the first yellow to help get better track position. By the second yellow and running solidly in 14th, the team pitted for full fuel, tires and the mandatory driver change.
Ruhlman took over the driving duties, quickly regaining the positions lost in the pits. Still holding 14th place, the car continued to experience handling problems. The team decided to pit again under caution about 30 laps later to top off the fuel and make it to the end without another stop. Ruhlman was able to maintain a consistent pace and make it unscathed through the incident-filled final stages of the race.
As the race went into its closing laps, the race intensified. A number of cars spun and went off track, and two major crashes occurred, including a horrific end-over-end crash involving a GT car, whose driver miraculously suffered no injuries. Though the #40 Preformed Line Products Pontiac Riley never regained its practice handling or speed, the team was able to bring the car home with a twelfth place finish in the field of 27 top Daytona Prototype cars and twelfth overall in the combined 47 car Grand American Rolex Cup field.
After the race, Ruhlman commented, "Chris and I both had to deal with a car that did not handling well at all in the race. We did what we could, but as the race progressed, the car got pretty bad. Neither of us could make progress in the corners, and the Porsches and Fords we were running against have a lot of power in the straights. We had good luck with the timing of the yellows and our team's pit strategy helped us out a lot this weekend. Chris and I did what we needed to do to bring the car home, but it was a lot of work. Finishing twelfth is good, we both stayed out of trouble and that was a big deal out there today."
The Grand American Rolex Cup teams head straight to Daytona International Speedway for the Brumos Porsche 250 race on Thursday evening, June 29th, part of the NASCAR Pepsi 400 weekend. Randy Ruhlman and Chris Bingham will drive the #40 Preformed Line Products Derhaag Motorsports Daytona Prototype at the one day event. Afternoon practices and Qualifying will be followed by a 7 PM race start. The Daytona 250-mile evening race will be presented in front of the large NASCAR crowd and is scheduled for 70-laps of the 3.56-mile, 14-turn oval/road course. The race will be covered live on SPEED.
Randy Ruhlman just came off a successful 2005 season in the Trans-Am Series with wins at both the Cleveland Grand Prix and the Long Beach Grand Prix. Chris Bingham, the two-time Grand American GTS champion, was a top competitor in Daytona Prototypes last year.
Bingham, of Bellevue, Washington, is a professional racing driver with an impressive resume and years of experience. He has competed in the Busch Grand National Series, open wheel racing in Indy Lights, as well as IRL, and has extensive endurance racing experience. As a two-time Rolex Sports Car Series GTS champion, Bingham was nominated as one of the "Best Road Racers of the Year" in 2002. He made his return to full time Rolex Series racing in 2004, piloting the #15 CB Motorsports car, before joining the Derhaag Motorsports team for 2006.
Ruhlman was named the 2005 BBS "Most Improved Driver of the Year", won the 2005 Cleveland Grand Prix Trans-Am race and Long Beach Grand Prix, and was runner up for the 2005 Trans-Am Drivers' Championship. Ruhlman makes the record books as fourth in Top Ten finishes in Trans-Am history. Ruhlman from Greensboro, NC has been a professional race car driver since his Rookie year in Trans-Am in 1990 and has extensive racing experience, predominantly in road racing in the Trans-Am Series, as well as in IMSA, ASA and the NASCAR short track series.