Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team finishes eighth in the Armed Forces 250 at Infineon Raceway SONOMA, Calif. - The Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team ended a frustrating day with an eight-place finish in today's Grand-Am Rolex Sports...
Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team finishes eighth in the Armed Forces 250 at Infineon Raceway
SONOMA, Calif. - The Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team ended a frustrating day with an eight-place finish in today's Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Armed Forces 250 at Infineon Raceway.
Driver Bill Auberlen, of Redondo Beach, Calif., started fourth in the No. 23 Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Porsche-powered Riley and spent all of his first stint in the top-five before pitting on lap 28. In fact, when Auberlen brought the No. 23 machine to pit lane for fuel, tires and a Gurney change, he was the race leader. After all of the pit stops cycled through, as several teams were using different pit stop strategies, Auberlen was in eighth to start his second stint.
Auberlen worked his way back up to second by lap 58. At this point, the team was in the process of discussing their next pit stop when the race's only caution came out. The team had Auberlen pit under caution on lap 60. This stop included fuel, tires and driver change.
"We came in for a pit stop and had a huge lead over the cars behind us, but wound up leaving behind those guys," Auberlen said of his first pit stop. "This means we lost 20 seconds to the field, which is just too hard to get back. That put us at a huge deficit. Then, we started to comeback. We had a little error on the timing of the next stop and they put us back again."
When the race went green on lap 64, Joey Hand, of Sacramento, started his stint in 10th. By lap 86, Hand moved up to sixth when the No. 58 Porsche Riley spun in Turn Seven. Eyeing their second top-five finish in as many races, Hand was pushing hard to catch the No. 76 Krohn Racing Pontiac Lola for fifth. Unfortunately, the No. 75 Krohn Racing Pontiac Lola, who was a lap down, continued to hold off Hand for nearly 15 laps. Hand tried passing the No. 75 machine several teams, but the No. 75 machine continued to stay just in front of him.
With 10 laps remaining, Hand got a run on the No. 75 machine going into the hairpin and got underneath him. Unfortunately, the No. 75 saw Hand coming and checked up. That is when Hand got into the back of the No. 75 and spun him. This miscue drew the ire of the Grand-Am race officials. As a result of the contact, Grand-Am gave Hand a drive through penalty. This penalty ultimately cost the Ruby Tuesday team two positions and a shot at a top-five finish.
A similar instance happened earlier this season in Mexico City, when the No. 01 Lexus Riley spun Hand (who was a lap down at the time) and Grand-Am officials failed to penalize the No. 01 for the type of contact Hand had with the No. 75 today.
"The guys drove a good race," Team Owner Alex Job said. "We were ready to stop that lap and then the yellow came out. If we would have stopped right before it went yellow, we would have been in a great position. Joey and Bill did a great job behind the wheel even though we let them down a little bit in the pits. Joey went out and was being aggressive trying to make up positions and the 75 car who was a lap down just wouldn't give a little to let him by. It is unfortunate that we received the penalty, it put a cap on what had already had been a pretty tough day. The car had the pace and the guys did their best to keep us up toward the front, but combined with our pit work, traffic and the lack of yellows eighth was all we could do today."
"However, I am also terribly disappointed with the race officials today. Unfortunately, there seems to be a lack of consistency when penalizing certain cars for on-track incidents. I could live with the penalty we received today if that was the way Grand-Am officials had consistently called that infraction all year long. We were spun out in Mexico City and then we were driven off the road in a high speed corner in Montreal and both times the offending cars did not receive a penalty. I am just looking for some consistency and I am sure the rest of the teams would agree. Having said that, I now look to the series to improve upon their inconsistency."
"It is rough to have our toughest race on our home soil," Hand said. "The car wasn't too bad, but it wasn't the best car we had all weekend. We picked up this understeer in qualifying and really could not shake it. I don't know what was going on. As the fuel burned off, I got faster, but then I was getting held up by lap cars. The 75 car was tough, he just wouldn't give me a way by. I got below him and we touched and I ended up getting a penalty for it. I thought that was ridiculous considering the lack of penalties in this series this year. When you race from the back like that, sometimes you have to dirty some people up. I didn't want to lose positions and prize money for my team at the end of the race, but sometimes that is the way it goes. We were contenders here."
The Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car series will be at New Jersey Motorsport Park in Millville next weekend for the Supercar Life 250.