Mark Martin to drive with Ruhlman and Lewis at Iowa Speedway race in Southard Motorsports Daytona Prototype
Powell, Ohio (July 8, 2007) – When the Southard Motorsports No. 3 Preformed Line Products Lexus Riley sets off for the starting line at Iowa Speedway on Friday, July 13, it will have a special guest behind the wheel, NASCAR great Mark Martin. Martin will join drivers Randy Ruhlman and Shane Lewis, as they take on the new 1.3-mile, Rusty Wallace-designed road course at Iowa Speedway for Round 9 of the Grand-Am Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve.
While Mark Martin is no newcomer to the world of sports cars or road racing, the Iowa event will be his first time driving in a Grand-Am Daytona Prototype race. Martin, who has numerous NASCAR Nextel Cup wins, also holds the distinction of being part of four GT victories at the Rolex 24 At Daytona. Earlier this week, at a pre-race press conference held at Daytona International Speedway before the Grand-Am and Nextel Cup races, the three drivers--Martin, Lewis, and Ruhlman, along with Iowa Speedway designer Rusty Wallace, talked about the upcoming Grand-Am race at the Newton, Iowa track.
Martin commented, "We've been hearing about the Speedway at Iowa for quite some time now, and I hadn't had a chance to get out there yet. The opportunity came up this year…and I jumped right at the chance to race on the road course and to run one of these cars. It should be really quite an experience. I've been able to watch them run and I'm looking forward to it. I've got some good teachers here to talk me through this, so I'm just planning on having a good time out there. I'm excited about it. And [the race] is in a region where we don't get to too often. I'm sure we're going to get to see a lot of race fans who ordinarily won't get a chance to see us race."
“Mark is a tremendous driver," says Ruhlman. “He's had so much success in NASCAR and on the ovals that people don't remember that he's an excellent road racer, too. There is no doubt that he'll do a great job in the Prototype, they are fun cars. I don't think there's much we can teach him, maybe the other way around. But it's energizing to have him be part of the team for this race. And with DP never having raced at Iowa before, I think we'll all have a lot of learning to do here in these cars. It should be a great race."
"I've never been here in a DP car, but I can say from before that this is definitely a fan-friendly place," says Lewis, who had the opportunity to race at Iowa earlier this year in a Koni Challenge ST car. "It will be a really exciting race to watch and to be a part of. We'll have the benefit of Grand-Am and NASCAR knowledge on the team, and we're definitely looking to be competitive, but there's also a fun factor that is important, too. I'm looking forward to the Prototype race and driving with Mark and Randy. I think it will be fun for us all."
A track sponsored test day on Thursday, July 11, will help the teams prepare for Friday's official practice and the 5 p.m. Friday qualifying session. The 400-K race at the newly built Iowa Speedway starts at 8 p.m. CDT for 192-laps or 2 1/2 hours on the 1.3-mile road course oval in Newton, Iowa, just outside of Des Moines. The race will be broadcast same-day delayed on Friday, July 13th at 10 p.m. ET.
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.
Mark Martin will be doing double duty this weekend, competing in the Grand-Am Daytona Prototype event at Iowa Speedway, as well as in the NASCAR event at Chicagoland. Martin has compiled one of the most successful careers in NASCAR history, and his 35 wins are the third among active drivers. A true legend within the sport, Martin enters his 25th season of NEXTEL Cup racing, the last 19 of which he spent behind the wheel of the No. 6 Roush Racing car. He is currently fourth in Nextel Cup’s all-time standings and his name appears in the top 10 of several of NASCAR’s all-time lists with an impressive 16 top-10 points finish in the past 18 seasons.
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 drove the No. 40 Preformed Line Products Daytona Prototype for Derhaag Motorsports.
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 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.
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.