Busy Race Day for Southard Motorsports at Daytona
Daytona Beach, Fla. (July 6, 2007) – It was a busy day for the Daytona Prototype teams on Thursday, July 5th, at the Brumos Porsche 250. Part of the NASCAR Pepsi 400 weekend at Daytona International Speedway, the one-day event for Round Eight of the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve challenged the teams by setting up practice, qualifying and the race all within a fifteen hour timeframe. The Southard Motorsports No. 3 Preformed Line Products Lexus Riley with co-drivers Shane Lewis and Randy Ruhlman showed well in the race by working their way up throughout the 70-lap race to finish thirteenth in the highly competitive field of Daytona Prototypes.
"With so little time in the practice sessions, it kind of put us behind the Eight Ball," said Ruhlman, who qualified and started the race. "But once the crew worked on it, I think we had a decent car to begin the race. We got off to a good start and picked up a couple of cars right away. It was just a tough night all the way around. I do think the car was capable of moving up in the field some, but even early on, it started to get a little loose in the back and tried to kick around. When the yellow came out and Shane got in, it probably got a lot worse for him. I think we've got a decent direction going for Iowa and from here on out. Some of the problems we've experienced in the past are just that--in the past, but we definitely have to keep moving forward."
Lewis, who took the second stint and finished the race said, "The car was a handful, I felt like I was just hanging on. I ended up relying a lot on my experience here at Daytona. I knew the areas of the track that I could push and the areas not to. Also I knew my job was to make sure that we had a race car at the end. We did that, but it wasn't easy. We need to dig a bit deeper and harder and find ourselves a race car that will be able to run up-front and work for the whole race. We have the team and we have the drivers to do that. I'm looking forward to the month of July to make that happen."
The green flag for the Brumos Porsche 250 race flew at 8:00 p.m., starting 70-laps of racing action under the lights. The race, which ran just over two hours at the historic, 3.56-mile road course at Daytona International Speedway, was broadcast live on SPEED TV. The series heads straight to Iowa Speedway for Round Nine with the Daytona Prototype cars racing on Friday, July 13, at 8 p.m. NASCAR legend Mark Martin will be joining Shane Lewis and Randy Ruhlman in the Southard Motorsports No. 3 Preformed Line Products car for the Iowa Speedway event.
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. Randy Ruhlman joined the team this year after running last year in Daytona Prototypes and following a successful career in the Trans-Am Series. Shane Lewis is a four-year veteran of the Southard Motorsports and part of the team's two Grand-Am podium finishes last year.
Lewis, an instructor at The Mid-Ohio School, has won multiple events at the track, from the IMSA Supercar Championship to the SCCA Pro Series World Challenge. 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, a veteran of the popular Trans-Am Series, has also had a great deal success at the Mid-Ohio track, where he has driven each year in a variety of cars, as well as last year's Daytona Prototype event. A native of Cleveland, Ohio, 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, he 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. He 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. 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.