Austin, Texas (18 September 2015) – In racing, even when everything goes according to plan, the racing gods occasionally step in and tear up the script.
That was exactly the case on Friday for Rum Bum Racing after what looked to be a winning run came to a heartbreaking halt with less than an hour to go in the race. Despite great team execution and outstanding race pace, and even with a healthy contingent of supporters including Jennifer Bacardi’s sister Jill on hand from Wisconsin, the championship hopes were dashed after the car was not able to finish the race.
Hugh Plumb opened the race from the front row after qualifying the No. 13 Rum Bum Racing Porsche second on the grid for the fourth time this year. He wasted no time in taking over the race lead as he maneuvered the No. 13 Porsche past the pole-sitting Mustang on the very first lap and never looked back. He had put nearly a nine-second lead over the field when Crew Chief Joe Varde brought the car to pit lane just prior to a full course caution for a full service stop about 50 minutes in.
“The car really shines in this heat,” said Hugh Plumb of the run. “It was very consistent and getting out front early, getting in the fresh air, and having the battle being behind me is everything a driver can hope for so we got a bit of a good start.”
Matt Plumb took control of the No. 13 Rum Bum Racing Porsche and once the caution period ran its course and every car made a pit stop, Plumb found himself back at the front of the field as he led the group to the green. Matt Plumb focused on tire management as well as running consistent race laps as he pulled his leading margin to nearly a four-second advantage.
A second full course caution was displayed with about an hour remaining in the race and Varde made yet another brilliant strategy call to take on four tires and fuel. The other GS competitors each took just two tires which saw Plumb exit the pit lane fifth in line.
Following the restart with 50 minutes to run, Plumb make it look easy as he made his way through the V8s of the Camaros and Mustangs to run second in line and challenge for the race lead.
Unfortunately all that championship momentum and champagne potential came to a heart breaking halt as a fluke mechanical issue came to fruition when debris punctured the radiator and left Plumb stranded at the side of the track from second place.
The IMSA Radio commentators remarked on the heads up driving from Matt Plumb as he recognized the issue and pulled off to a safe area on track.
“First of all I’d like to say what a fantastic event this is at Circuit of the Americas,” said Team Manager and Driver Matt Plumb. “The fans here have been fantastic. We’re the team coming into this as the underdog with two races to go and 10 points back. We’re surrounded by factory teams, and we’re the independent team, the little team that could. But we like to be, because we’re pretty tough underdogs. Going into this weekend, the car was fast, the Rum Bum team as usual was on top of their game. We settled into a good pace and were just very consistent. Our strategy was playing out very well, we took four tires and everyone else took two. Everything was going to plan until something came out of left field and took us out of the race. It’s a bit of a mystery but something came through and poked a hole into the radiator. It’s unfortunate that all the preparation in the world can’t account for things like that. Extremely proud of this team, I want to thank the Bacardi family, Joe Varde, and everybody on this team. Congratulations to the No. 6 on their win today.”
The 2015 IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge championship will commence at Road Atlanta in two weeks.
The Circuit of the Americas event will be televised on Sunday, September 27 at 1:30 PM ET.