A focus on teamwork helps Southard Motorsports No. 3 Preformed Line Products Lexus Riley take twelfth at VIR Grand-Am Daytona Prototype race
Alton, VA (May 1, 2007) – A lot can be said about teamwork, but nowhere is it more essential than in racing, where the car, engine, drivers, tires, and communications all need to function perfectly just to finish, much less, do well in a race. And it was more than evident this weekend at Virginia International Raceway that teamwork was the key that helped propel Southard Motorsports through adversity to a twelfth place finish in Sunday's Round Four of the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve race.
The 2007 driving partners of Randy Ruhlman and Shane Lewis, who together pilot the Southard Motorsports No. 3 Preformed Line Products Lexus Riley Daytona Prototype, were looking forward to the challenges of driving at the fast and demanding 3.27-mile road course. They were fresh from a testing session at VIR and ready to start the competition. The Southard Motorsports team, likewise, felt strongly that the competitive times turned in testing would serve them well against the other top ranked teams.
Though they worked hard throughout the weekend, the team was never successful in duplicating the times that they recorded in testing. Both drivers worked well together with the team and engineers and quickly determined that there was a major problem with a new part that had been installed. The situation could not be remedied at the track, forcing the team to compensate and make alterations to the setup throughout the weekend.
As Lewis and Ruhlman worked closely with engineer Kris Mellon, the team led by owner Steve Southard fought to make changes and improve the car. By race time, they had found a drivable setup, though far from an ideal one. With a fast start and good, clean restarts, excellent pit stops and heads-up driving, both drivers were able to keep the car in touch with the pack and take advantage of the race as it unfolded. And in one of the best battles of the race, the Southard Motorsports No. 3 Preformed Line Product Lexus Riley was the focus of strong television coverage, as it successfully fought with the No. 59 Porsche Riley for position in the closing laps of race to finish twelfth after two and one-half hours of demanding competition.
"We were so good at the test a few weeks ago and to come back with so many problems is very frustrating, but we'll take the twelfth place finish. This was a true team effort," said team owner Steve Southard. "Everybody did what they needed to, engineering, crew, both drivers. Everyone worked so well as a team. I'm really proud of the efforts they put in. We're headed back to the shop. We know what we need to do, and we'll get ready to show them what we have at Laguna in a few weeks."
This weekend's 400-K feature race followed a weekend full of racing activity. The Sunday, April 29th race began at 1 p.m. EDT and ran the full scheduled 77-laps. Full coverage of the race was seen live on the SPEED Channel.
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.
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.
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 Top Ten finishes in Trans-Am history.
Southard Motorsports reflects the goals and dedication of its owners, Steve and Martha Southard, both former drivers themselves in Historic and Professional racing. One of only two teams to have competed in every Grand American Rolex Daytona Prototype Sports Car event since 2004, they have shown the continuity and commitment that are hallmark to all winning programs and the team was pivotal in winning the inaugural Jim Truman Driver's Award. Southard Motorsports' experience and knowledge was highlighted by last year's successful Daytona Prototype season, as they captured two podium finishes, a third at the prestigious Long Beach Grand Prix and another third at Phoenix.
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.