Birmingham, Ala. (5 April 2013) – After starting the 2012 race at Barber Motorsports Park from fifth, Rum Bum Racing took a dramatic victory in the team’s first-ever outing with a Porsche 911 on the way to scoring the 2012 GRAND-AM Championship. Drivers Nick Longhi and Matt Plumb will look to defend last year’s victory with another strong outing as the duo enter the race weekend leading both the driver and team championship standings ahead of the third Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge round.
The picturesque track has not featured post card weather to go with the high quality of facilities, with cold temperatures and variable precipitation keeping the drivers busy on the 2.3-mile circuit during the opening two days of testing.
The weather started to turn for the better on Friday as the field was ready to set the grid in a 15-minute qualifying session on Friday morning.
The session proved to be a stop and start affair, as an early yellow flag saw Longhi forced to cool his heels in pit lane before the track went green again with just over four minutes to go. Unfortunately, Longhi, along with several other competitors, was judged to have been a little too eager to get out of pit lane.
A quick roll back through the pit lane to serve a pit speeding penalty meant that he had only one more flying lap to set a time, and he made the most of it with a fast lap time of 1:35.699-seconds to score eighth on the grid.
“On my first lap, the tires were just too cold because it had been raining,” said Longhi. “I really thought there’d be more grip. And so I went through the last corner with a lot of understeer, and I should have known it was going to take a couple of laps to warm up, but I didn’t want to take “no” for an answer. So I was sideways and sliding around too much, figuring that the next lap it would settle in.”
The weather has kept the drivers and engineers on their toes, but with a more consistent and hospitable forecast for race day, the team is optimistic for a strong result.
“I felt like if I could have done one or two more laps before the black flag, we would have been faster, but I don’t know if we had the pole,” said Longhi. “But this is what happens in this series. There’s a lot of black flags, especially at a track like this where there’s going to be a lot of cars off track and a lot of contact. But it is what it is, we are where we are, we have a great team, and we’ll win anyway.”
The 2.5-hour Barber race will go green on Saturday at 4:00 PM local time. Live timing and scoring is available at www.grand-am.com.
Saturday’s race will be broadcast on SPEED, April 13 2:00 PM ET.