Daytona Beach, Fla. (23 January 2014) – They say that being lucky can be better than being good, but as Rum Bum Racing showed on Thursday at Daytona International Speedway, being well-prepared can sometimes trump both.
Having the car prepared well in advance of the session, the championship team was first in the qualifying line and ready to go as the 2014 IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar (CTSC) Championship launched with the first grid-setting session of the season.
That preparation paid dividends as Rum Bum Racing drivers Nick Longhi and Kaz Grala made the most of the open track when the field took the green flag for the 15-minute session.
The two were able to score a fast lap time before a red flag came out, which sent all the cars back to pit lane to wait for the track to go back green. With Longhi putting the No. 13 Rum Bum Racing Porsche on the top spot on the board and Grala nabbing third with the No. 03 Rum Bum Racing BMW M3, it was a long wait for the team before the green flag came back out. When it did, there was but three minutes left on the board.
Once again heading out in formation, but this time mired in traffic, Longhi and Grala looked to make the most of the last lap flyer but were stymied by slow traffic in the bus stop as the checkered flag flew. But Longhi’s first lap time was still good enough to score a spot on the front row, with Grala set to start from the seventh row in 13th.
“The fact of the matter is that in this series, you have to go, right away,” said Longhi, who will share the No. 13 Porsche with Matt Plumb. “It was just about everything the car had. We knew there wouldn’t be much time and we were right in the middle of traffic. We gapped a little bit and it worked well until we got into the bus stop and someone was just parked there. But I’m super happy with how the weekend has started-the team put me in position to have that clear track. It was great to get one fast one in before the red flag. We do not have the fastest car at this track, so it was down to the team that put us in this position. I’m amazed by the job that Kaz Grala has done, he’s a NASCAR star of the future to keep an eye on, there is no question.”
Grala, who is the youngest driver in IMSA history, will make his Daytona debut tomorrow as he takes the green flag for the first time at the famous circuit before handing the car off to his co-driver Hugh Plumb.
“The Continental tires felt really good – it felt like I had a lot of grip,” said Grala, who is set to co-drive with Hugh Plumb. “We had a pretty good lap, some nice drafting with my teammate. We did catch a bit of traffic on that last lap which unfortunately ended up killing my run on the front stretch. But Nick (Longhi) wasn’t as affected so he ended up really fast and we were just a bit slower. But all in all, it was a really, really good qualifying run and I am pumped for tomorrow. I think we are in a great starting spot and it’s a 2.5-hour race so we should have plenty of time to make up ground.”
Rum Bum Racing will see a final 30-minute practice session tomorrow morning and the BMW Performance 200 will go green at 1:45 PM (ET).
Live timing and scoring can be followed at www.scoring.imsa.com. FOX Sports 2 will have same-day television coverage of the season opener at 6:00 PM (ET).
Rum Bum Racing Information:
2010: 3 Wins (Daytona, Trois Riviers, Miller Motorsports Park)
BMW Manufacturer Championship
2011: 3 Wins (Daytona, Lime Rock Park, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course)
BMW Manufacturer Championship
2012: 5 Wins (Barber Motorsports Park, Homestead-Miami Speedway, Road America, Watkins Glen, Lime Rock Park)
IMSA Team Champions, Porsche wins Manufacturer Championship
2013: 3 Wins (Barber Motorsports Park, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Road America)
IMSA Team and Driver Champions, Porsche wins Manufacturer Championship
Kaz Grala Bio:
At 4 years old, Kaz got his first kart – a CRG Bambino with a 50cc Comer, which he raced at the F1-Outdoors road course in Massachusetts.
At 7 he started racing year-round at F1-Boston, a multi-track indoor road racing facility also in Massachusetts. He accumulated over 100 wins and 2 championships.
At 10 he started racing Bandolero cars in Charlotte NC. This was his introduction to oval racing. He won multiple championships (oval and road course) including the most prestigious Summer Shootout at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
At 12 Kaz moved up to Legend Cars. In 2012 he won 15 of 58 races run all over the country on both ovals and road courses. Ended Legends by winning the Winter Heat Championship at Charlotte Motor Speedway in the highest and age-unlimited Pro Division.
Kaz kicked off 2013 as the youngest NASCAR driver ever to compete at Daytona International Speedway. At 14 years and 51 days old he started his first ever race in a Late Model Stock Car at the inaugural Battle at the Beach. On June 22, 2013 Kaz won his first LMSC race at Hickory Motor Speedway – becoming the youngest winner in UARA series history.
At the Roar test (Jan 3-5), Grala was 15 years and 5 days old, the youngest driver ever to participate in an IMSA/Grand-Am sanctioned event.