Derhaag Motorsports/Preformed Line Products Daytona Prototype gains valuable points at Virginia International Raceway
The weekend at Virginia International Raceway saw beautiful, sunny Spring skies and torrential downpours, as Derhaag Motorsports with drivers Randy Ruhlman and Chris Bingham scored valuable points in the races of Round 5 of the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve. The #40 Preformed Line Products Pontiac Riley was up to the challenges of the combined field of DP and GT cars on the demanding 3.27-mile road course located on the central Virginia/North Carolina border.
The weekend's racing excitement treated the crowd to two full points events for the Daytona Prototype cars. A Daytona Prototype Qualifying race on Saturday had Bingham bring the #40 Preformed Line Products Pontiac Riley home in fifteen place, despite engine problems and heavy rain. On Sunday, the full 250-mile race saw Ruhlman and Bingham overcome starting from the back of the pack, miscues in the pits, and a recurrent engine misfire to garner valuable points with an eighteenth place finish in the 26 car Daytona Prototype field and eighteenth overall in the 46 car combined field of DP and GT cars.
The weekend began with a 30-minute full points Qualifying race in the rain. Showing his rain-racing experience in Daytona Prototype cars, Chris Bingham had the car up to twelfth place before an engine misfire with just laps to go put the car back to fifteen for the finish. Both drivers and the team scored full race points for the Qualifying race.
The 250-mile feature race on Sunday saw Ruhlman starting the car, as Bingham had driven the qualifying race. The engine problems in the Qualifying race, though, required the team to change the engine before Sunday's race. Ruhlman was forced to start the #40 Preformed Line Products Pontiac Riley from the pit lane and join the field after they took the green flag.
Ruhlman meticulously worked his way through the Daytona Prototype traffic, showing as high as eleventh place before the team called him in for an early gas stop under the caution flag. Out at the tail end of the field of Daytona Prototype and GT cars, Ruhlman once again worked his way forward through the heavy traffic until the team pitted the car about midway in the race for the driver change. Chris Bingham took over the driving duties, and continued to work forward through the field, as the race pace quickened for the finish. Bingham made his way up to a hard fought fifteen place, before the intermittent engine/fuel miss from Qualifying reappeared, dropping the car back to finish eighteenth in the 26 car Daytona Prototype class and eighteenth in the overall combined field of 46 cars.
After his driving stint, Ruhlman said, "I caught up to the pack at the start by Turn Four and worked on picking off DP cars. The car was working well and it felt really great going up the Esses. There were a lot of cars to work through, especially after the pit stop, and I managed to avoid a couple of incidents that happened right in front of me. Getting a rhythm going with all that traffic is something that we have to contend with in these combined races. There is such a big difference in speed between the DP and the GT cars, but you still have to wait for them in places. I'm really starting to get used to the DP car; it hooks up and just handles really well. It's a lot of fun to go deep into the corners. The DP car brakes a lot better than the Corvette ever did, it took awhile to get used to that."
Bingham said after the race, "I thought the car was handling pretty well here. It got a bit loose when the tires got used up, so I adjusted the bars and it seemed to help. It was fun out there. Unfortunately near the end of the race, the engine did exactly what it did in the Qualifying race. I lost those cars right down the straightaway. We tried to switch pumps and ignitions, but nothing worked. Then, it just mysteriously cleared up; there's definitely something weird going on there. Overall, I think we're making progress as a team. It's frustrating for both of us as drivers, but we'll be in good shape once we get these problems sorted out."
"Both Randy and Chris did an exceptional job for us this weekend," said Derhaag Motorsports team owner, Jim Derhaag. "They were both fast and heads up out there and drove really well. Now, we need to fix what's happening on our end with the car and pit stops. We need to get things straightened out and perfect our strategy to give these guys everything we can to finish up front again."
The Daytona Prototype drivers, Chris Bingham and Randy Ruhlman with Derhaag Motorsports, are fresh from a top ten finish at the Long Beach Grand Prix two weeks ago in only their fourth outing in the #40 Preformed Line Products Pontiac Riley. The Grand American Rolex Series heads to Laguna Seca for Round Six, the 250-mile US Sports Car Invitational, on Sunday, May 7th at noon, and then immediately to Phoenix International Raceway for the Saturday evening, 250-mile GAINSCO Grand Prix on May 13th.
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 runner up for the 2005 Trans-Am Drivers' Championship, was named the 2005 BBS "Most Improved Driver of the Year", and won the Long Beach Grand Prix and the Cleveland Grand Prix. Ruhlman makes the record books as fourth in Top Ten finishes in Trans-Am history. A veteran race car driver, Ruhlman 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.