Lime Rock: Randy Ruhlman race report

Ruhlman battles Torrential Rains at Lime Rock Trans-Am. Greensboro, NC (May 28) Torrential rains, flood warnings up and down the East Coast, and a Memorial Day Trans-Am race at Lime Rock, Connecticut. Such were the conditions for the start of...

Ruhlman battles Torrential Rains at Lime Rock Trans-Am.

Greensboro, NC (May 28) Torrential rains, flood warnings up and down the East Coast, and a Memorial Day Trans-Am race at Lime Rock, Connecticut. Such were the conditions for the start of the annual Memorial Day Trans-Am race at Lime Rock Park, the 1.53 mile road course set in the middle of the beautiful hills of Western Connecticut. It was a race, though, that saw major difficulties for three of the top four finishers from last week's Mosport Trans-Am race, Scott Pruett, Mike Lewis and Randy Ruhlman.

The race at this 7 turn hilly course was scheduled for 66 laps, or 100 miles and was carried live on SPEED channel, but the race was stopped after the hour and 15 minute time limit, because of the slower lap times in the rain. The race, fortunately, did not experience any major incidents, but many top runners suffered spins, either alone or with other cars, and several yellow flags were called to extract cars from off-track.

Randy Ruhlman, the 2002 winner of the BBS Wheels "Most Improved Driver of the Year", made this rain soaked race his 130th career start in the Trans-Am series, campaigning the familiar #49 blue and white Preformed Line Products/Coyote Closure Chevrolet Corvette. Ruhlman, the fourth place finisher at last week's Mosport Trans-Am race, along with Mosport winner Scott Pruett and second place finisher Mike Lewis, suffered decidedly at this rainy venue. All three finished out of the top five and all lost valuable positions in the overall Driver's Championship hunt. Ruhlman finished eleventh, Lewis eighth and Pruett twelfth at this rain soaked race at Lime Rock Park.

Ruhlman said after the race, "We just didn't have it. And in the rain, confidence in the setup and the ability of the car to stick to the wet track is really important. The higher your confidence in the car and knowing that you are going to make the corner at speed, the faster you can go. It allows you to get into the corner faster and get on the gas sooner. It is the key to driving fast in the dry, but in the wet, the feeling and consequences are magnified tenfold, especially when the visibility through the windshield is worse than being on the freeway in a downpour behind an 18-wheeler."

"My confidence in the car, obviously, wasn't as high as some of these other guys who were able to get up front. They were able to get into the corners and drive places on the track in the rain, that I just couldn't put the car. I spun off the track at one point, and just kept my foot into it. I knew if I stopped, I would be up to the door panels in mud and that would be the end. I could see Mike [Lewis] just ahead, and we swapped back and forth in the beginning of the race, but neither of us had anything for the leaders. Scott [Pruett] spun or got spun, and ended up losing a lot."

"It is really disappointing for us, because we weren't able to put on the show that we could have for all of the great fans that came out in the rain and the television audience, as well. You just can't see much of the race, when it raining as hard as it was. I salute the fans though, they show what dedicated followers we have here in Trans-Am. Personally, I was really looking forward to qualifying and racing in the dry. We had a lap time that would have put us third in qualifying and we had a car in the dry that was very competitive. We had a great chance of improving on our fourth place finish last week at Mosport and, in the dry, getting on the podium here at Lime Rock."

"Our next race at Sears Point with the NASCAR Winston Cup race should be a fun one. We didn't go there last year, but I went to driver's school there and have raced there a lot. If we can get the right setup again, that will be a great race and we should do very well there, too."

Ruhlman's Chevrolet Corvette is fielded this year by the Minneapolis based, Derhaag Motorsports team, led by former Trans-Am driver Jim Derhaag. Jim Derhaag himself made 150 starts as a driver in the Trans-Am Series before his successful move to full time ownership in 1998. The team has fielded many successful drivers, including top Trans-Am drivers Justin Bell, Kenny Wilden, Tony Ave, Dorsey Schroeder, Chris Neville and Darin Brassfield.

Preformed Line Products (PLP) is an international manufacturer and supplier of hardware and support systems for the communications and energy industries. Products include the COYOTE Closure and GUY-GRIP Dead-End used in the telecommunications, cable and energy industries. Manufacturing facilities are located worldwide in the USA, Canada, China, Brazil, Mexico, England, Spain, South Africa, Australia and Japan.

-cbr-

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About this article
Series Trans-Am
Drivers Scott Pruett , Tony Ave , Justin Bell , Randy Ruhlman , Dorsey Schroeder , Darin Brassfield