Miami, FL (Sept 27) -- The 2002 Trans-Am Series "Most Improved Driver of the Year" Randy Ruhlman returned today to the downtown street course in Miami in an attempt to defend his last year's Trans-Am third place finish. Unfortunately, Ruhlman's...
Miami, FL (Sept 27) -- The 2002 Trans-Am Series "Most Improved Driver of the Year" Randy Ruhlman returned today to the downtown street course in Miami in an attempt to defend his last year's Trans-Am third place finish. Unfortunately, Ruhlman's day was cut short when he clipped a wall at turn three on lap 11. Returning to the track following a changed left front tire, Ruhlman was able to continue his fast pace. He eventually was forced to retire, when further damage was seen upon a return to the pits.
"We did what we could to be fast and stay away from the walls, but I needed to get close to the walls in turn 2,3, and 4. That was where the grip was on the track. I just got in to close and clipped the front pretty hard. It didn't feel too bad when I went back out. As a matter of fact, I thought I would be able to catch some of these guys. A yellow flag came out in a few laps and we decided to come in and check things out more carefully. That is when I got the bad news. It was not safe to go back out, things were pretty messed up. It is the worst feeling to have to get out of the car, when you just know you could be up there fighting for the podium," said Ruhlman.
"I was pretty excited about the race today. I had a good shot at getting up to fifth overall in the points with a good finish here. And I think a top three was a real definite possibility, too. Now, I think we also dropped out of sixth overall, too. We will just have to see what we can do at the new course in Puerto Rico," continued Ruhlman.
The 4:00 EDT race was scheduled 87 laps of the 1.15-mile track, but due to the many yellow flag laps, it went the regulation 75 minute maximum. The Miami race will air on Speed, tape-delayed on Oct. 10 at 9PM EDT.
Ruhlman fell back to seventh overall with today's 16th place finish. He is currently seven points out of sixth in the Driver's Championship. The MotoRock Trans-Am Tour for the BFGoodrich Tires® Cup will travel for its final race to San Juan Puerto Rico on October 26th.
The Trans-Am Series recently named MotoRock LLC as their new title sponsor. The theme of "Cars, Stars, and Guitars" debuted its full program at the Miami venue with a joint race/concert promotion featuring the music of rock superstar Elton John and the roar of American engine thunder from the Trans-Am Series cars. This multi-year deal has joined concert level promotion with the unique entertainment of an up-close motorsports event.
"MotoRock is a new generation of pop culture that blends cars, stars and guitars," said MotoRock Chairman and CEO Jamie Rose. "MotoRock is a series of live events that showcase the excitement of motorsports, music and lifestyle, while delivering a unique new form of broadcast entertainment programming. It's the new breed of speed. By integrating music, lifestyle and entertainment, MotoRock hopes to bring a new audience to the thrill of motorsports, as well as a dramatically enhanced opportunity for media partners and corporate sponsors at every level."
"It is a unique opportunity for Trans-Am to generate an increased fan base and open new avenues for sponsors," says veteran driver Randy Ruhlman. "I cannot think of a better way to get things going for MotoRock than with a return to the streets of Miami. The Elton John concert last night was phenomenal and the visibility that this type of association gives Trans-Am is something the Series has needed for quite some time," continues Ruhlman. "The effort we have seen here at Miami by MotoRock is first rate, and it looks to continue to grow and attract a varied crowd to the Trans-Am events."
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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.