Rain Pummels Southard Motorsports Homecoming, No. 3 Lexus-Riley Finishes 13th LEXINGTON, Ohio, June 22, 2008 - Southard Motorsports, based in nearby Powell, Ohio, entered Saturday's EMCO Gears Classic presented by Key Bank eager to put on a good...
Rain Pummels Southard Motorsports Homecoming, No. 3 Lexus-Riley Finishes 13th
LEXINGTON, Ohio, June 22, 2008 - Southard Motorsports, based in nearby Powell, Ohio, entered Saturday's EMCO Gears Classic presented by Key Bank eager to put on a good show for their hometown crowd. However, the weather had different plans for the No. 3 Southard Motorsports Lexus-Riley and drivers Bill Lester (Atlanta, Ga.) and Shane Lewis (Jupiter, Fla.) in the two hour and 45-minute timed event at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Round seven of the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Daytona Prototype season left the Steve and Martha Southard- owned team wet and frustrated with a 13th-place finish at the conclusion of the rain-soaked and caution- riddled race.
Lewis started the race 10th on the grid. Even as the green flag waved across the Daytona Prototype (DP) field raindrops were beginning to fall on portions of the 2.258-mile, 13-turn mile road course. The first of eight cautions came on lap eight as a number of DPs came together under the increasing showers. Despite cars adding to the mess both in front of and behind him, Lewis successfully plotted his way through the melee to continue on as the rain pounded harder. Lewis would hold the red, white and blue Lexus V8- powered Riley chassis near the leaders until lap 22 when the car joined the long list of cars of course with his first spin of the day. Lewis rejoined the race but was quickly overtaken by the leaders as he brought the car back up to speed. Now a lap down, Southard Motorsports had its work cut out for it the remainder of the race.
One hour and 30 minutes into the race the clouds cleared briefly and the track began to dry before a second wave of storms hit the famous Ohio facility. With the rain again increasing, Lewis held the 12th position, one lap behind, until spinning a second time into the gravel with 50 minutes remaining. Once extracted from the gravel trap, Lewis pitted and Lester took over driving chores. Now two laps down and facing a wet course, Lester spun the Southard car ten minutes into his stint. Again, the car was undamaged and the NASCAR veteran continued through to the checkered flag. Fitting for such a day, the event finished under caution with the Southard Motorsports effort 25th overall, two laps down. In total, the rain led to 35 laps under caution and only one hour, nine minutes and 44 seconds under green flag conditions.
Despite the bitter weather conditions and disappointing result, the weekend was a success on another level for Southard Motorsports. Hosting over 100 guests of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, Southard Motorsports helped to further raise awareness of the Ohio-based charity's goal of finding homes for foster children throughout North America.
Southard Motorsports will have little time to contemplate the Mid-Ohio weekend as the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series is quickly back on track. The team travels back to the site of the season-opening Rolex 24 in Daytona Beach, Fla. for the Brumos 250 At Daytona on July 3. The event, traditionally known as the Paul Revere 250, will be held immediately following NASCAR Sprint Cup Series qualifying at Daytona International Speedway. Southard Motorsports had a strong showing in January at the Rolex 24 before a mechanical problem led to a dramatic accident which ended their day just short of the 24 hour distance.
Steve Southard Owner: "It rained and rained and we had a car that was almost un-drivable in the rain. A lot of credit goes to Shane and Bill for bringing it home without a scratch on it. Now we have to figure out why it became un-drivable in the wet conditions."