Salinas, CA (May 23, 2007) – Experience paid off this weekend for Southard Motorsports' Daytona Prototype drivers Randy Ruhlman and Shane Lewis at Mazda Laguna Seca Raceway in Round Five of the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve. While able to take advantage of lucky timing to finish in twelfth place overall, the race was made more than challenging for the drivers of the Southard Motorsports No. 3 Preformed Line Products Lexus Riley as they suffered brake problems throughout the race.
The weekend found the Southard Motorsports team working hard to find a set up for the car at the hilly, 2.238-mile, 11-turn track outside of beautiful Monterey, California. By race day, the team was able to find a drivable set-up, but Ruhlman and Lewis, who both have career wins at Laguna Seca Raceway, were forced to use their race car and track experience as they struggled with failing brakes and an intermittent pedal throughout Sunday's two and one-half hour race.
Just six laps into the 91-lap race with the car heading into one of the fastest parts of the track at Turn Two, Randy Ruhlman was suddenly faced with complete brake failure when the pedal went to the floor. With the car not stopping, Ruhlman's experience got the car safely to the gravel and kept the car out of trouble on track.
Getting back on track and now two laps down to the field, the car pitted, making its compulsory first pit stop. Ruhlman went back on track to circulate with the brakes continuing to be tricky and unpredictable. Several yellow flag periods enabled the No. 3 Daytona Prototype to pick up its lost laps and get back on the lap with the leaders.
Following the mid-race pit stop for fuel and tires, the team changed drivers and Shane Lewis took over the driver's seat. Using his familiarity with the Daytona Prototype cars and experience at the Laguna Seca track, Lewis tried to keep the No. 3 car in the competition in the face of the unpredictable braking and pedal level. Lewis was able to maintain the car on the lead lap and take advantage of caution laps to bring the car home in twelfth place in the nineteen-car Daytona Prototype field.
This weekend's two and one-half hour Grand-Am Daytona Prototype race began at 1 p.m. Sunday, May 20th and television coverage was Live at 4 p.m. on the SPEED Channel.
Randy Ruhlman, who went to college in Northern California at Stanford University, won numerous races at Laguna Seca in his early days with the SCCA Showroom Stock series, later returning to the track with success in the top-ranked Trans-Am Series. A life-long Californian, Shane Lewis won his first major professional race here at Laguna Seca in the Bridgestone Supercar Championship, and has driven the track numerous times in a wide variety of cars.
This year, Lewis and Ruhlman drive the No. 3 Preformed Line Products Lexus Riley for Southard Motorsports. Lewis has driven for the Powell, Ohio-based team for the past four years and was part of the two podium finishes the team posted in 2006. Ruhlman joined the team this year after running in the Daytona Prototypes last year for Derhaag Motorsports, the team he won multiple races for in the Trans-Am Series.
The No. 3 Preformed Line Products Daytona Prototype is campaigned by Southard Motorsports of Powell, Ohio. The Riley chassis is powered by Lexus engines with technical expertise by TRD Engineering and carries sponsorship from Preformed Line Products from Mayfield Village, Ohio. Shane Lewis is a four-year veteran of the Southard Motorsports and part of the team's two Grand-Am podium finishes last year. Randy Ruhlman joined the team this year after running last year in Daytona Prototypes and following a successful career in the Trans-Am Series.
Randy Ruhlman has been a professional driver since 1990 and has extensive racing experience, predominantly in road racing in the Trans-Am Series, as well as in IMSA, ASA and the NASCAR short track series. Last year, Ruhlman drove the No. 40 Preformed Line Products Daytona Prototype for Derhaag Motorsports. Ruhlman was the top American driver in the 2005 Trans-Am Drivers' Championship, holding the points lead throughout the season and scoring a pair of wins--the season opener at the Long Beach Grand Prix and the Cleveland Grand Prix. Ruhlman was named the 2005 BBS "Most Improved Driver of the Year" and makes the record books as fourth in TopTen finishes in Trans-Am history.
Lewis is widely considered one of the sports leading development drivers and has competed in twenty-four 24 Hour Races--nine-times in the Rolex 24 At Daytona, three-times at Le Mans and twice at Nürburgring. Always a fan favorite, Shane Lewis earned two Daytona Prototype podium finishes with Southard Motorsports in 2006, at the Long Beach Grand Prix and Phoenix. He has multiple wins in the Rolex Sports Car Series and Grand-Am KONI Challenge Series and was the 1998 Professional Sports Car Racing Rising Star award winner.
Preformed Line Products (PLP) is an international manufacturer and supplier of hardware and support systems for the communications and energy industries. Products include COYOTE® Fiber Optics and VORTEX® Vibration Dampers 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 Thailand.