Derhaag Motorsports shows promise at Laguna Seca Daytona Prototype race, ready for Saturday's Phoenix race
Monterey, CA (May 9, 2006) – In a dramatic up and down race this weekend at Mazda Laguna Seca Raceway, Derhaag Motorsports showed considerable promise in the #40 Preformed Line Products Daytona Prototype. Good pit strategy and heads up driving by Randy Ruhlman and Chris Bingham demonstrated the progress the team is making in the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve, as the 28 Daytona Prototype cars now head directly to Phoenix International Raceway for the next race this Saturday, May 13th.
Derhaag Motorsports and drivers Randy Ruhlman and Chris Bingham made some substantial strides with the #40 Preformed Line Products Pontiac Riley this weekend at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, refining the handling of the car, quickly cutting through traffic on the track, and showing an improved pit stop strategy. Starting in nineteenth following the Qualifying race, the car ran as high as second place in the Sunday feature 250-mile race, but in the closing laps of the race was spun from behind by another Daytona Prototype car and ended the day nineteenth overall, losing a lap in the incident.
"This race at Laguna showed that we're definitely making progress out here," said team owner Jim Derhaag. "Chris and Randy did a great job driving for us today. They were both really fast and did a great job getting through traffic. It's a good driver combination. I think on the pit side, we're getting a handle on the car and also getting better calling the pit stops. We decided to leave Chris out to take advantage of the track position at the first yellow. That put us up front, in second, and he was able to stay up there and run. We needed to pit for fuel and tires around Lap 38 and made a great stop under yellow, but so did everyone else. Unfortunately, we ended up sending Randy out in 24th place and that forced him to come up through all the DP and GT traffic. He did a good job making it back up to the front pack. We got hit right at the end, and lost a lap, but everybody did their jobs well. I'm proud of the crew and the drivers."
"That hit I took was one of the hardest I've taken in years," says Ruhlman, a veteran of over 150 Trans-Am races. "I'd just turned in at Turn 11 for the restart, when I got slammed. I went around, straight into the gravel, as Gentilozzi went flying by and got stuck in the gravel behind me. I'd have to see it to know what happened, but regardless, it was too bad. The car was fast at the end of the race and I had a good shot at overtaking Shane [Lewis] for 12th place. We're just going to have to get them this weekend at PIR. Things are starting to click, we are definitely a team on the move now."
The Grand American Rolex Cup teams head straight to Phoenix International Raceway for the 250-mile GAINSCO race on Saturday evening, May 13th. Randy Ruhlman and Chris Bingham will drive the #40 Preformed Line Products Derhaag Motorsports Daytona Prototype at PIR, starting with afternoon and evening practices on Thursday and a practice and Qualifying session on Friday. The 250-mile evening race begins at 7PM PDT for 166-laps of the 1.506-mile oval/road course, located just outside of Phoenix, Arizona.
While both Bingham and Ruhlman had extensive racing experience at Laguna Seca, Phoenix will be a different story. Chris Bingham drove his CB Motorsports Daytona Prototype at Phoenix International Raceway last year, but the road course at PIR will be new for Ruhlman, who last competed at PIR in 1989 on the full oval. The driving pair of Bingham and Ruhlman with Derhaag Motorsports scored a top ten finish at the Long Beach Grand Prix in only their fourth outing in the #40 Preformed Line Products Pontiac Riley, engineered by Buddy Fey.
Television coverage of Round 7 of the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve at Phoenix International Raceway will be shown tape delayed on SPEED Channel on Sunday, May 14th at 3 PM ET.
Randy Ruhlman just came off a successful 2005 season in the Trans-Am Series with wins at both the Long Beach Grand Prix and the Cleveland Grand Prix. Chris Bingham, the two-time Grand American GTS champion, was a top competitor in Daytona Prototypes last year.
Ruhlman was named the 2005 BBS "Most Improved Driver of the Year", won the 2005 Long Beach Grand Prix Trans-Am race and Cleveland Grand Prix, and was runner up for the 2005 Trans-Am Drivers' Championship. Ruhlman makes the record books as fourth in Top Ten finishes in Trans-Am history. Ruhlman from Greensboro, NC has been a professional race car driver since his Rookie year in Trans-Am in 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.
Bingham, of Bellevue, Washington, is a professional racing driver with an impressive resume and years of experience. He has competed in the Busch Grand National Series, open wheel racing in Indy Lights, as well as IRL, and has extensive endurance racing experience. As a two-time Rolex Sports Car Series GTS champion, Bingham was nominated as one of the "Best Road Racers of the Year" in 2002. He made his return to full time Rolex Series racing in 2004, piloting the #15 CB Motorsports car, before joining the Derhaag Motorsports team for 2006.
Derhaag Motorsports Pontiac Riley carries primary sponsorship from Preformed Line Products with additional sponsorship logos of Coyote Closures®, Park Place Ltd, KeyBank and McDonald Financial Group.
Preformed Line Products (PLP) is an international manufacturer and supplier of hardware and support systems for the communications and energy industries. Products include the COYOTE® Closure and GUY-GRIP® Dead-End 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.