Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing comes up short at Montreal MONTREAL, Quebec, Canada - The Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team came up half a lap short from possibly winning its first Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series race of the ...
Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing comes up short at Montreal
MONTREAL, Quebec, Canada - The Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team came up half a lap short from possibly winning its first Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series race of the season at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal.
On the last lap of the race, driver Joey Hand was in second and fighting for the team's first win of the season when his No. 23 Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team Porsche-powered Riley ran out of fuel on the back straight. This unfortunate circumstance relegated the team to a 15th-place finish.
"This really hurts," Hand said after the race. "It's like getting punched in the stomach. At the very least, I knew we were on the podium. Had we not run out of fuel, I was set to get Darren [Law] and hopefully win this thing. To that point, the car had been really good. For only getting 10 laps worth of practice, five for Bill and five for me, I don't think anyone would have given us a chance to win.
"I didn't know that we had a fuel issue until five laps to go. The team did not talk to me on the radio because I was in a zone and I was passing people. I know that they didn't want to break my concentration. They wanted me to stay focused. But, with five to go, they told me to start shifting early on the first light and then to switch to map two.
"Just when they said that, I knew I was in trouble because the car stumbled a bit in Turn Five and I thought 'oh no with five to go we are not going to make it.' I milked it as much as I could. I started short shifting and I knew Darren was doing the same because he was not pulling away from me. But, we came up just half a lap shy."
"My heart is broken for the team; it's broken for Alex," Auberlen said. "I thought that this was going to be our day. The car was great. It took some abuse and just kept on going. AJR and Ruby Tuesday have been up front in the last two races with this car. We've got new life. But now, we've got to convert that life into podiums, which we should be doing every weekend. Joey and the Ruby Tuesday team did a great job today."
Auberlen started today's Round 10 race fifth on the grid. Early in the race, Auberlen was engaged in an epic battle with the No. 16 Pontiac Coyote for fourth when its driver made a double move resulting in contact with Auberlen in Turn 10. Unfortunately, the avoidable contact cost Auberlen a position. Frustrated, but undaunted, Auberlen quickly regained his position later in the lap and was back in fifth when the race's first caution came out.
"Fittipaldi was just nightmare to get around," Auberlen said of his battle with the No. 16 Pontiac. "Every time I got side-by-side with him, his way of racing was to just run into you. I've had this with him before. It seems everyone else drives cleanly but him. Unfortunately, the sanctioning body never saw what everyone else saw on television. I don't know how they didn't see it."
Under yellow on lap 21, the team brought Auberlen to pit lane for tires, fuel and to put Hand in the car. Once the pit stops cycled through Hand was ninth. Now it was Hand's turn to drive the No. 23 machine back to the front. On lap 53, Hand passed the No. 16 machine in Turn Three for third place. At this point, Hand had the team's first win in his sights, with the No. 58 Porsche Riley and the No. 01 Lexus Riley just in front of him.
On lap 56, both the No. 58 and Hand passed the No. 01 machine to take over the top two spots, respectively. From there, it was going to be a shootout to the end with just 13 laps remaining. Unfortunately, during those final laps, the team also knew that they were getting low on fuel.
With two laps to go, Hand was still trying to take the lead when he had to go to reserve fuel. But, unfortunately, the No. 23 machine ran out of fuel on the back straight on the last lap.
"I hope the team stays encouraged after today's race," Team Engineer Greg Fordahl said. "The performance of the team and the car were fantastic. [In terms of strategy] we rolled the dice hoping for a late yellow or a little bit of help towards the end and we just didn't get it. So, we came up about half a gallon short. It would not have made any difference to our finishing position had we come in for a splash of fuel because we would have ended up in the same place."
The Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team will head straight from Montreal to Watkins Glen, New York for next weekend's Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Crown Royal 200 at Watkins Glen International.