Driver Line up Notes: Ruhlman skips Barber Motorsports Park
The No. 3 Preformed Line Products Lexus Riley saw racing action on Sunday, July 22nd at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama. Unfortunately, last-minute race schedule conflicts prevented regular driver Randy Ruhlman from joining the team this weekend. His driving partner Shane Lewis paired up for Sunday’s race with long time road racer Guy Cosmo. Ruhlman plans to return to the No. 3 Preformed Line Products Daytona Prototype in two weeks, when the Grand-Am Series heads north for Rounds Eleven and Twelve of competition at Montreal and Watkins Glen.
Southard Motorsports Keeps Battling, as Heat Challenges Teams at Barber Motorsports Park
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (July 24, 2007) –Southard Motorsports came to Barber Motorsports Park in search of a second consecutive top ten Grand-Am Daytona Prototype finish. Starting ninth, in the team's best qualifying position of the year, the No. 3 Preformed Line Products Lexus-Riley fought a determined battle for a top finish. Running as high as sixth in the race, the team and drivers struggled through track conditions and the heat during the two and one-half hours of racing in the Grand-Am Road Racing Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve.
Sunday, July 22nd, began on a high note when the team picked up the SunTrust Hard Charger Award for the eighth place finish at Iowa Speedway and continued as team driver Shane Lewis moved the car from a ninth place start up to an early sixth overall. Lewis avoided several early race crashes and kept a consistent pace behind the leaders through the first, early mandatory pit stop and then, skillfully piloted the car until about half way when Guy Cosmo took over to finish the race. Cosmo settled into a good rhythm, turning fast laps throughout the final stint of the Porsche 250 Presented By Bradley Arant.
The final pit stops and restarts reshuffled the cars and the No. 3 Preformed Line Products Lexus Riley dropped back to thirteenth, as the race began to wind down. The team worked hard through extremely difficult and hot conditions, but could not recapture the earlier momentum or reclaim their earlier positions. The team never gave up the chase and kept challenging for its second straight top-ten finish, but came up just short by the end of the 250-mile race at Barber Motorsports Park.
“We had a good, consistent car," says Shane Lewis. "This was a race track where we hadn't tested. We had a decent race car, it just wasn't quite fast enough to keep pace with the leaders. The crew did an awesome job with the pit stops for us. They also did a fantastic job of fighting the heat and a great job considering all the circumstances. Guy did a great job subbing for us today, a big thanks to him. And we've got an unscathed car, ready to head to Montreal, where I think we'll do great."
"This was great opportunity for me this weekend to drive with Southard Motorsports. I'm glad we finally had the chance to make it happen. Shane and I worked with the team on set-up, and although we made great improvements to the car during practice, we just ran out of time to continue that progress before the race. Shane did an outstanding job in qualifying and during his stint in the race, and I think the both of us gave her all she had. It may not have been enough against the competition today, but this team has a lot of potential and I really enjoyed working with this great group. I thank them for the opportunity."
Shane Lewis was joined by Daytona Prototype driver Guy Cosmo for Round Ten of the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal at Barber Motorsports Park. Cosmo substituted for the team's regular driver Randy Ruhlman, who had last-minute scheduling conflicts.
Ruhlman will return to the No. 3 Preformed Line Products Lexus Riley in two weeks, when the Grand-Am Series heads north for Rounds Eleven and Twelve of competition at Montreal and Watkins Glen. The Montreal race is scheduled for Friday, Aug 3 at 4:15 p.m. for a weekend event that will be held in conjunction with the NASCAR Busch Series. Neither Series has ever run on the Montreal Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve before. The following weekend at Watkins Glen will be Round 12 for the Grand-Am Daytona Prototype cars. The Watkins Glen event will also feature the NASCAR Nextel Cup and Busch Series races. The Grand Am Daytona Prototypes will run on Friday, Aug 10th at 6:30 p.m. for a 2-hour race.
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 widely considered to be 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. An instructor at The Mid-Ohio School and always a fan favorite, Shane Lewis, resident of Florida, 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, as well as the IMSA Supercar Championship and the SCCA Pro Series World Challenge. Lewis was the 1998 Professional Sports Car Racing Rising Star award winner.
Guy Cosmo is a highly regarded, veteran road racer. A former Formula Atlantic driver and 2005 ALMS Rookie of the Year, Cosmo's early experience in Formula Ford and US and Scandinavian Formula 2000 lead him to win the Star Mazda Championship in 2002. His extensive open wheel experience and outstanding reputation in the Grand-Am Daytona Prototype cars and in the American LeMans Series has lead to Guy Cosmo being considered the first choice among drivers. This year, as well as in past years, Cosmo has driven frequently in the Daytona Prototypes and in the GT class and KONI Challenge cars. Cosmo saw the podium last year as a driver in the second place finishing No. 19 Playboy Daytona Prototype at the nine-hour race at Miller Motorsports Park.
Randy Ruhlman, a veteran of the popular Trans-Am Series, has extensive racing experience. Ruhlman makes the record books as fourth in Top Ten finishes in Trans-Am history and 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. He was named the 2005 BBS "Most Improved Driver of the Year". Concentrating most recently on road racing, Ruhlman spent many years driving the ovals and road courses of the ASA and the NASCAR short track series. In 2006, Ruhlman, a native of Greensboro, NC, drove the No. 40 Preformed Line Products Daytona Prototype for Derhaag Motorsports.
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. The team recently announced an alliance with the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption to increase visibility and awareness for the Foundation and its programs.
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.