INDIANAPOLIS (26 July 2013) – As Luis Bacardi’s Rum Bum Racing returned to GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge action on Friday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the team sat atop the championship standings with the goal of extending their points lead with a strong run at the famed Brickyard. Strong drives from both Rum Bum Racing drivers Nick Longhi and Matt Plumb helped the team overcome an ill-timed caution period and maintain their hold on the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge GS championship with a top-five finish at the iconic Indianapolis circuit.
The visit to the 2.534-mile Indianapolis road course was the third outing for the newly built No. 13 Rum Bum Racing Porsche 911 which met its on-track debut with a victory at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in June. Though the long straights of the Indianapolis track tend to favor the higher horsepower American Iron V8s of Camaros and Mustangs, Plumb set the fastest race lap with a quick time of 1:35.300-seconds.
Longhi opened the 2.5-hour race from seventh on the grid and immediately made his way into third position in the braking zone of Turn 1. Unfortunately, the quick start was thwarted when the second place car checked up in the following corner, allowing several cars to get around the No. 13 Rum Bum machine, forcing Longhi to settle into the sixth position.
As Longhi focused on running a conservative stint and keeping the car in good position for Plumb to take to the finish, he ran among the top-10 throughout the first hour of the race. Crew Chief Joe Varde called Longhi to pit lane for a routine stop and driver change about an hour into the event and the team delivered with the familiar quickness and efficiency of a Rum Bum pit stop.
“I had a great start because the others were being very conservative,” said Longhi of the opening stint. “It was very slippery out there and it’s not the best track for our car, but the goal was just to keep it conservative and out of danger and give it to Matt (Plumb) in great condition for the end of the race.”
The team’s day took a dramatic turn when a full course yellow came out during Plumb’s outlap, allowing all the other cars to make their stops under caution. At the restart, Plumb found himself 20th and set out to make his way back to the front of the field. Through a stint that saw three more caution periods, Plumb worked his way into the top-10 and, with 30 minutes left in the race set several quick laps to move up into fifth.
A final full course caution was displayed with just minutes remaining in the race halting Plumb’s progress and setting the fifth place finish position for the No. 13 Rum Bum Racing Porsche 911.
“In my mind, fifth is a win for us today,” said Plumb. “Just to come such a long way with the car and the setup. Basically this was a brand new car for us at this track and we were just following the No. 9 car and making sure we were in the right sequence to stick with them. I think we got a little bit unlucky on that yellow. We pitted and then that yellow came out – it definitely put us back in the order and we had to battle through traffic. Then I was getting in traffic and overheating quite a bit and that would slow my progress down. So then I would wait for a caution and on the caution I could kind of leap-frog people. In the end, the yellows really helped us though because we made just the one pit stop and we were saving fuel.”
The result sees Rum Bum Racing extend its championship lead to a 30-point margin as, in two weeks, the team heads to Road America as defending race winners.
“Road America has always been good for us,” added Plumb. “We thought we had the new car figured out after Mid-Ohio and Watkins Glen and then we came here and it was completely different. So we are hoping that we can go back to the setup that we have been using and our baseline is closer so we don’t have to kind of reinvent the wheel again like we did here.”
The Brickyard Sports Car Challenge will be broadcast on SPEED, August 3 at 4:00 PM (ET).