|SAN JOSE, Calif. (July 31, 2005) — Randy Ruhlman remains the points leader in the 2005 Drivers Championship, surviving a 'wild and crazy' weekend of racing in Round 6 of the Trans-Am Series at the Grand Prix of San Jose. Ruhlman, the driver of the #49 Preformed Line Products Chevrolet Corvette, finished fourth in the Cytomax Sports Drink 100 Trans-Am race, surviving several incidents, including a costly hit and spin delivered by points challenger Klaus Graf. Ruhlman retains the lead over the Rocketsports Jaguar of Graf and the Cytomax Jaguar driver Greg Pickett.
The race, scheduled for 70 laps, ended at the 75-minute time limit, due to a number of yellow flag incidents that occurred on the fast, narrow street course in downtown San Jose, California. Ruhlman started in the fourth spot in the inversion, after Klaus Graf decided to change tires. Tomy Drissi in the other Rocketsports Jaguar changed an engine and joined Graf in the rear of the Trans-Am field for the start.
Course delays limited track time and racetrack modifications extended into race day morning, making gearing and car setup more challenging. It also made race traffic conditions more of a question. "We all had been pretty concerned about what could happen at the start with so many cars, but everyone was heads up and it went off smoothly," said Ruhlman. "The Corvette was handling great in the early part of the race. The track was a lot faster for the race, than it had been in qualifying, but going over the Light Rail track was still pretty tough on the car. The top four or five of us with Boris [Said] leading were nose to tail for the first part of the race, and getting through traffic was a factor out there."
"Early in the race, Klaus [Graf] tried to dive inside of me at the hairpin. He charged down the inside, apparently trying to make me give up the line and force me out. I came across his nose; not knowing he'd even put himself there. He hit me in the wheel and side and the car wasn't right after all that, it wouldn't brake the way it had. It wasn't evil, but it definitely wasn't right, or as fast. Just after the final restart, Klaus tried the same move, but didn't make it along side, just hit me hard in the rear and spun me off. I lost a lot of real estate, because there were so many of the GTA cars out there and it took a long time to safely get back on track."
"They gave Klaus a drive-through penalty for spinning me. Unfortunately, since I had lost so much time to him in the spin, he was in and out before I even got there, so it didn't amount to much of a deficit for him. But given the potential for disaster that was out there, and how things went, I'd have to say that fourth was a decent place to finish. I know that at the start we had the car to do battle with Greg and Boris, but we just didn't have the car for it once we got tagged," continued Ruhlman.
"It's coming down to the final races in the points battle. We've had some good results this year with the three podiums and the two fourths, but with the qualifying points and these close battles, it is coming down to 'crunch time'. Greg Pickett is also becoming a factor in the chase, so it is going to be interesting. We're going into three races in a row, and this is where an organized, consistent team like ours shines. We were fast at Denver last year, and we also had the pole and finished second at Road America. Things look encouraging, but racing is always a crapshoot, and weird things can happen. I'm just going to give it 100% each race, and we will make sure that everything we have control over is in place. That's all we can do to try to win this Championship," finished Ruhlman.
Randy Ruhlman won the prestigious Trans-Am season opener at Long Beach Grand Prix in April and followed that up with a second place finish at Portland International Raceway. His win at the Cleveland Grand Prix was his third consecutive podium and tenth consecutive top five finish. Ruhlman finished fourth at Edmonton and managed a seventh at Toronto, after losing a lap with a tire cut from an on track incident. Ruhlman has scored twelve top five finishes in his last thirteen races.
Randy Ruhlman finished third overall in the 2004 Trans-Am Driver’s Championship, competing with Paul Gentilozzi and Tommy Kendall in the closest points battle ever in Trans-Am history. Last year, Ruhlman scored seven straight top five finishes, including three podiums: a second at Road America, another second at Toronto, and a third at Infineon. He was the pole sitter for the Road America race and sat on the front row for the Cleveland Grand Prix. Randy Ruhlman is fourth in Top Ten finishes in Trans-Am history.
Randy Ruhlman worked with the Buckle Up America program earlier this summer to promote seat belt use, where he was the keynote speaker at the Cleveland House of Blues Kick-off of the Northeast Ohio "Click It or Ticket" campaign. The program was spearheaded by UHHS Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital’s Outreach Program. Ruhlman continues to work closely with the Lance Armstrong Foundation Peleton Project, especially in helping to promote the upcoming Tour de Road America [August 20th] to raise money for cancer survivorship.
Founded in 1947, Preformed Line Products (NASDAQ: PLPC) is an international designer and manufacturer of products and systems employed in the construction and maintenance of overhead and underground networks for energy, communications and broadband network companies.
Worldwide headquarters are based in Cleveland, Ohio. The Company operates three US domestic manufacturing centers, located in Rogers, Arkansas, Albemarle, North Carolina and Asheville, North Carolina. Preformed serves worldwide markets through international operations in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, England, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa, Spain and Thailand.
The Cytomax Sport Drink 100 Trans-Am race will broadcast on SPEED next Sunday, August 7 at 1PM EDT.