Watkins Glen, NY (29 June 2013) – After getting off to a challenging start to the race, Rum Bum Racing came roaring back at Watkins Glen to score second place in the Continental Tire 150 on Saturday.
The GRAND-AM podium appearance was the 20th for Rum Bum Racing, and the second in a row for drivers Matt Plumb and Nick Longhi after winning the previous round at Mid-Ohio.
After starting the race from eighth on the grid, Longhi was working his way forward in the pack early on when he misjudged distances in a heavy braking zone, making contact with the No. 9 Camaro.
The impact sent both machines off course and into the gravel trap, but the two championship-leading cars were both able to fight through the sand trap. Unfortunately, the hit loosened the hood on the Porsche as it flipped up, coming to rest on the windshield, robbing Longhi of any view out the front.
Fortunately he still had a strong awareness of where he was as well as hundreds of laps at Watkins Glen, and along with some helpful radio transmissions from the team, was able to make it back to the pits for repairs.
“I lost track of where I was and things slowed down a lot faster than I expected,” said Longhi. “The last thing I wanted to do was hit that car of all cars. It was my fault, and I apologized to the entire Stevenson team and crew after I got out of the car.”
Longhi was deep in the pack after the team used all the adhesive resources it could muster to keep the hood down in an early pit stop. The group made the most of the yellow flag, getting Longhi back on the road and on his way. The incident was deemed avoidable by GRAND-AM, and Longhi was forced to serve the first penalty of his racing career, stopped for 60 seconds before being released back into the fray, still on the lead lap.
A subsequent stop saw Plumb rejoin the field deep down the order. But still on the lead lap and with the proven Rum Bum Racing car and crew in his corner, Plumb was able to click off a series of laps that saw him escalating up the order after running as low as 23rd to race his way up to run second with 30 laps in the books. The team effort was once again on display as the final pit exchange saw Plumb emerge in the lead, clear of the field.
The changing conditions caught several teams and drivers off-guard as Plumb worked on building his lead. But with the rains gaining steam, several drivers had offs and a long full course caution culled the field for over half an hour as Plumb held the point behind the safety car.
While it looked like a run to the checkered flag was once again in the cards, a one-lap dash to the finish saw Plumb cede the lead as he fought through the last lap on slick tires on the still very-wet track. The huge team effort netted yet another podium as Rum Bum Racing grew its championship points lead.
“It was crazy!” said Longhi after the race. “All of the credit goes to the team, 100%, we never give up. Matt (Plumb) is a rockstar to get it to the front and the whole team was just fantastic.”
The wildly changing and challenging conditions had the fans breathless for the final circuit of the race, as no one knew what kind of grip was on offer. Fortunately, Plumb handled the pressure perfectly, holding off the charge from cars with wet tires to score second place at the finish.
“I think Continental has developed a new slick rain tire,” smiled Plumb about how he was able to make the slicks work in the wet conditions. “We worked really hard to get the car balanced both in the dry and the wet and that was how we got to the front. I’m really sorry to the Stevenson guys, we never intend to do things like that and I hope they didn’t get pushed back too far because of it. Thanks to Luis Bacardi, and Rum Bum Racing once again prevails.”
Rum Bum Racing will be back in action at the fabled Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 26th as GRAND-AM stages the Brickyard Grand Prix.