INDIANAPOLIS (27 July 2012) – After a race that saw history being made, two and a half hours of frantic racing, heavy rain storms, a red flag, and some questionable driving from a familiar source, Rum Bum Racing will leave the Indianapolis Motor Speedway with a banged up Porsche but a small lead in the provisional Team Championship points.
Longhi opened the 2.5-hour race from the ninth position in the 73-car field, running in the top-10 throughout the beginning stages of the race. The Rum Bum squad took advantage of the second full course caution of the race to call the No. 13 to pit road out of ninth place for a routine pit stop and driver change. Longhi handed the car over to Plumb while the team performed another flawless pit stop to return the Porsche to the track 16th in the order.
Plumb wasted no time in moving forward, fighting his way up the order and improving his position each lap to run fifth by the 29th lap. Rum Bum Racing looked poised for yet another podium finish as Plumb ran as high as third before making the team’s second stop for fuel and tires. With some cars opting to stay out, he returned to the field sixth in line but a strong rain cell moved its way over the track while the cars ran under caution – forcing the Rum Bum team to make an extra pit stop for rain tires when the track conditions became too hazardous under yellow to run on slicks.
With the rain falling heavily and the track conditions worsening, the race was red flagged for 25-minutes while the race clock continued to run, but the storm moved out just as quickly as it had approached and the race line again began to dry. Constantly keeping the championship goal in mind, Varde made a strategic call to pit for dry tires upon seeing that the championship contending No. 83 car opted to stop for slicks. Another great stop by the Rum Bum crew saw the No. 13 Porsche exit pit lane ahead of the No. 83.
Plumb would restart from 14th with just 18 minutes remaining in a green flag sprint to the finish. He again immediately began to maneuver his way forward to run 10th before hard contact from the No. 55 driven by Scott Maxwell slammed the No. 13 machine off track and caused front end damage to the Porsche machine. Plumb was able to continue, but with a wounded car and the race curtailed with another caution, was unable to move up as Rum Bum Racing was forced to settle for a 12th place result.
“I don’t even know what to say,” said Plumb of the incident. “We were all racing close and hard and I had no idea where the No. 55 car came from or what he thought he was doing. He probably just missed his braking point but that’s the second time we may have lost the championship because of him missing his braking point. It’s just not acceptable. The same thing happened with him last year. I’m sure he’s sorry, but it’s really disappointing that a car that could have finished on the podium ended up 12th today.”
Despite not capturing the result the team had hoped for, Rum Bum Racing continues to lead the provisional Team Championship standings with 223 points – holding a five point advantage over the No. 83.
“Based on all the circumstances, the team was perfect,” offered Longhi. “They made all the right calls. Joe made absolutely the right call on the tires. The one thing you can’t predict is a red flag. You can try to work on the weather, and you can try to work on the car, but the one thing you can’t predict is when the race is going to get stopped. Even with all that, we had super fast pit stops. We were keying off the 83 car and Matt was perfect. Matt caught him essentially with about 10 minutes to go – he was going to get around him I’m pretty sure. But then, Matt got plowed into by the No. 55 Aston Martin of Scott Maxwell, the same guy that hit us last year and knocked us out of the championship, so hopefully his hit doesn’t have that same result this time. There are pro drivers in this series that you can rely on to race like professionals, and then there are other guys.”
Rum Bum Racing has a six-week break away from the track before the next round at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca as the GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge Series stages Round 9 September 7-8.
SPEED will televise the Brickyard Sports Car Challenge on Sunday, August 5 at 12:00 PM (ET).