Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team Turns In Inspiring Eighth Place Finish at Watkins Glen WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (June 9, 2007) -- Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team drivers Jorg Bergmeister and Patrick Long drove one of their most inspiring...
Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team Turns In Inspiring Eighth Place Finish at Watkins Glen
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (June 9, 2007) -- Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team drivers Jorg Bergmeister and Patrick Long drove one of their most inspiring races of the season Saturday, finishing eighth in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen at Watkins Glen International.
Starting on the inside of row two, Long quickly moved to second place in turn one at the start, but soon found himself in the Turn Four gravel with a flat right front tire bringing out the first full course caution of the day. By the time safety crews pulled the No. 23 Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team Porsche Crawford from the gravel and Long made a quick pit stop for new rubber, the team was one lap down in 19th when the race went green on lap four.
"The [number] 10 car put me up on the curb at the start and we had a flat tire going into the bus stop," Long said of the race start.
On lap 22, a second full course yellow came out. By this time, Long had moved up to 16th and was then the recipient of the second chance award, which put the Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team back on the lead lap.
Through the first 45 laps, Long managed to methodically work his way back up into the top 10. But, on lap 46 Long reported that he had no power steering in the car and three laps later the race saw its third caution. The caution came at just the right time. Long was losing positions because he could not maintain top speed without power steering. This caution also gave the Ruby Tuesday team time to figure out how to handle the power steering issue.
Having dropped to 16th on lap 51, Long brought the car to pit lane to take on four Hoosier tires, fuel, and to put defending Daytona Prototype champion Bergmeister in the car. While the car was on pit lane, the crew removed the power steering unit and immediately went to work on trying to fix the problem.
When the race went green, Bergmeister began his stint in 18th place and had to do his best to manhandle the No. 23 machine for the next 24 laps. In the meantime, the Ruby Tuesday crew managed to repair the power steering unit and was waiting for the next caution before bringing Bergmeister in to replace the unit. Unfortunately, a caution did not come quick enough. By this time, Bergmeister was physically exhausted from trying to keep the car on track without losing too many positions. On lap 75 and under green, the team decided to bring Bergmeister in for a pit stop, which included a driver change and the team put the repaired power steering unit back in the car.
This unscheduled pit stop under green put the Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team down a lap once again. Riding in 18th place, Long called back to the crew that the power steering had been restored. This news was inspiring to the entire team, as they knew with a good handling race car they had a shot at contending for a race win.
After another full course caution on lap 105, the team again was the recipient of the second chance award. Once on the lead lap, Long managed to drive his way up to 12th by lap 126 and then reported that he had lost all power steering again. The team had Long come into the pits on lap 127 and Bergmeister got back into the car for another stint without power steering.
With a little more than an hour left in the race and no power steering, an already exhausted Bergmeister was really going to have to preserve under extraneous conditions just to finish the race. But, Bergmeister lived up to the challenge and put on a truly impressive driving display over the last 39 laps to bring the No. 23 Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team Porsche Crawford home in eighth.
"That was probably the hardest workout I've ever done," Bergmeister said of his time in the car. "It was so brutal in car at the end. I was just trying to stay close to the [number] 58. When they [the team] sent me out with a little more than an hour to go and no power steering, I just tried to stay focused to run with the guys in front of me. I lost two positions, but there was nothing I could do against those guys. I was just too slow in the quick corners because I could not hold on to the steering wheel."
"This was a tough race for both the drivers and the team," Long said. "I think everyone stuck together as a unit, but overall this was Jorg's day. He put in the most inspiring drive I've ever seen from him. I've been teammates with him for three years and my hat's off to him because that was truly inspiring there at the end."
"I am so proud the way the team responded to today's adversity, but I am especially proud of the way Jorg drove the car under those extreme conditions for such a long time," team owner Alex Job said. "Both of Jorg's stints in the car were really inspiring for the whole team.
"We finished in eighth-place, which is another top-10 so we'll take it. It is certainly not the finish we had hoped for from the beginning. We definitely had a car capable of winning today. It [the race] started off bad from the beginning. We went off in the gravel trap with a flat and had to come in, which set us back.
"We came back from that and things were going good until the power steering failed. We just struggled with a power steering problem all day. We ran most of the race with no power steering. We had a control unit fail and we actually rebuilt it because we didn't have a spare. We had already gone through one in practice before the race. We thought we had it fixed because it worked for most of Patrick's second stint, but then it failed again. We tried repairing it again, but we just couldn't do it. Jorg had to do the last part of the race with no power steering. He did a great job to come back and finish eighth."