Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team finishes seventh in Bosch Engineering 250 at VIR AJR Header Image ALTON, Va. - Drivers Joey Hand and Bill Auberlen drove the No. 23 Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team Porsche Crawford Daytona Prototype to...
Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team finishes seventh in Bosch Engineering 250 at VIR
AJR Header Image ALTON, Va. - Drivers Joey Hand and Bill Auberlen drove the No. 23 Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team Porsche Crawford Daytona Prototype to a seventh place finish in today's Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Bosch Engineering 250 at Virginia International Raceway.
Hand started the Alex Job Racing-prepared Porsche Crawford from the outside of row two and spent most of his 30-lap stint in fifth place. On lap 31, he brought the No. 23 machine to pit lane under the race's second full course caution for a full pit stop including a driver change.
"The car was pretty good," Hand said of his stint. "But, it wasn't the fastest we had all weekend. The car had a pretty good understeer for me with the full fuel load. So, I fought that at the beginning. I just couldn't do much with it. I rode the [sway] bars a lot. The guys talked me through it a little bit. As usual, I did what I could do."
The race went green on lap 33 with Auberlen behind the wheel. And, he did not waste any time turning the team's quickest lap. On lap 36, he turned a quick time of 1:46.043. He continued to run consistent lap times, which put him in the race lead by lap 48. This was the third time in four races that the No. 23 Ruby Tuesday machine has led the field.
With about 25 laps remaining in the 77-lap event and with a 24-second lead on the field, the team began to seriously discuss fuel strategy. The team discussed a variety of green flag and yellow flag pit stop options. However, these discussions were short lived, as the race's third full course yellow came out on lap 55. At this point, the team elected to have Auberlen pit under yellow for a slash of fuel. When Auberlen returned to the track, he had dropped to ninth for the restart.
"I think we had a pretty decent strategy going," Hand said. "But, we got a yellow that came a little too early for us. So, when I came in for the pit stop and gave it to Bill, it stretched our fuel window a lot. Then, we had to pit late in the race for a splash of fuel and that is sort of what did us in."
"Our race strategy was based on one or two more yellows," team owner Alex Job said. "Had one of those yellows been a little longer, we wouldn't have had to stop for fuel. In hindsight, we should have fueled earlier. But, we were rolling the dice on the yellow and unfortunately it did not work out.
The race went green on lap 59. For the remainder of the race, Auberlen did his best to pick up positions. He managed to fight his way to seventh on the last lap of the race.
"The car was the best it's been all year by a long shot," Auberlen said. "It came out of the box pretty good. The team worked on it hard and it got much better. I hope the car works like this at Laguna. I like the way it's handling.
"The guys gave me a flawless car. They've given me a phenomenal car all year. I don't want to jinx it, but I don't think we've had a problem with it all year. It's great car. I am happy to be with the Ruby Tuesday Porsche Crawford team. My teammate Joey Hand did a great job. We just need better results."
"Looking at the information lap after lap, we had a real competitive car," Job said. "When we were leading, we were holding that 22 to 24 second lead from the cars behind us. So, it was definitely more competitive. This was a big step forward. We have one more race to go before we get the new bodywork. So, obviously we are making progress with the car. We still have a ways to go and it's only going to get better."