Ruhlman and Bingham recover from qualifying race crash to finish thirteenth at Phoenix Daytona Prototype race
Phoenix, AZ (May 16, 2006) – Despite getting caught up in a qualifying crash that took out six of the top Daytona Prototypes in the Rolex Cup field, drivers Randy Ruhlman and Chris Bingham and the Derhaag Motorsports team recovered to finish thirteenth in the No. 40 Preformed Line Products Pontiac Riley in Saturday night's The GAINSCO Grand Prix at Phoenix International Raceway. Starting from the back of the grid, the drivers and team marched the car forward through the twenty four-car field of "all-star" Daytona Prototype drivers to a thirteenth place finish in class and a thirteenth place overall finish in the 37-car combined DP and GT field.
Friday night, Phoenix was the site of a full points qualifying race to set the race grid for the Rolex Cup cars. Midway through the 30-minute qualifying race, a crash involving six cars, caught Bingham up on the tight inner section of the 1.51-mile road/oval course. The incident that damaged the front running cars, including the No. 40 Derhaag Motorsports Daytona Prototype, prompted officials to suspend from competition Oswaldo Negri of the No. 60 Michael Shank Racing team for his role in starting the wreck. Along with the instigating No. 60 car, the qualifying incident took out the Crown Royal car of Christian Fittipaldi and Eddie Cheever, the No. 40 Preformed Line Products car, the twice-winning Ruby Tuesday Porsche of Long and Rockenfeller, the Red Bull car of Darren Law, and the No. 4 car of Andy Wallace.
Teams worked long and hard to repair the Friday night qualifying damage and get the cars, some severely damaged, ready for Saturday evening's 250-mile race. Despite the extreme heat, with air temperatures reported as high as 104 degrees during the day, all of the teams, including Derhaag Motorsports, repaired their equipment and made the grid for the start of Saturday's race. The 149-lap GAINSCO Grand Prix got under way at 7 PM for two hours, forty-five minutes of racing as Round Seven of the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve.
Ruhlman drove the first stint in the car and, after starting from the back of the field, made his way to up to 15th place overall by Lap 32. At the first of two yellow flag pit stops for tires and gas and the mandatory driver change, the car fell back to nineteenth. Bingham took over the driving duties and worked cleanly through traffic to get the car back up front for the finish in thirteenth place in class and thirteenth overall in the combined 37-car DP and GT field.
At the halfway point in the season, Derhaag Motorsports is currently sixteenth in Team Championship points, including the three full points qualifying races. Following this week's qualifying wreck in Round Seven at Phoenix and the potential disaster of having a large number of cars not make the race itself, Grand American has decided that the experimental format of qualifying races was not successful. They will return to regular qualifying sessions to set the grid for the remaining seven races of the 2006 Rolex Cup season.
The Grand American Rolex Cup teams head next to the historic road course at Watkins Glen for the Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen on Saturday, June 3rd. The race will be shown live on the SPEED channel at 2:30 PM ET.
The road course at PIR was new for Ruhlman, who last competed on the full oval in 1989 when he sat on the front row in the popular Corvette Challenge Series . Chris Bingham drove his CB Motorsports Daytona Prototype at Phoenix International Raceway in Grand American competition last year. 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.
Randy Ruhlman 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.