The Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team has confirmed that it will give Joey Hand the chance to step up to Daytona Prototype competition next season, having signed him to partner DP veteran Bill Auberlen the #23 Crawford-Porsche.

Although Hand has driven with Auberlen in the past, mostly in GT cars, it will be the first time the pair have campaigned a Daytona Prototype together for a full season. According to Hand, he has waited a long time for this type of opportunity and he looks forward to making the most of it.

"I've been anxious to get a full-time DP ride for awhile," he confirmed, "Grand-Am prototype racing is so intense that you do not have time to take it easy - you are always full-tilt and I work very well under those conditions. I love wide-open, wheel-to-wheel racing and cannot wait to get in there and rub fenders with some of the best drivers in the sports car world.

"I've raced against AJR over the years in ALMS and Grand-Am and they've always been very strong competitors. A lot of times when you walk through the paddock, you say to yourself 'I'd really like to drive for that team one day', and Alex Job Racing was one of those teams for me. In the short time I've been with the team, at the Daytona test a few weeks ago, I see why they've been around so long and winning races. Alex has assembled a very strong team of mechanics, engineers, and now, I'd like to think, with drivers with Bill and I."

Hand and Auberlen are a proven winning combination, having teamed up with drivers Chris Gleason and Don Salama to win the Grand-Am Koni Challenge Series season finale this year at Virginia International Raceway, increasing their haul over the past two years to two wins and seven podium finishes.

"Bill is a great team-mate to have because he is always going as fast as he possibly can, which makes you bring your 'A-game' every session of every weekend. So, with that, you have two guys trying to go fast, pushing each other all the time.

"The thing with Bill and I is that we don't have anything to prove. We're just out there trying to go as fast as we can for the sake of winning, not for the sake of making each other look bad. Being teamed with Bill has been great for me as a driver because he pushes so hard, it makes me do the same. He has an outrageous knowledge of race cars and the set-up that makes them go fast. I would predict that I, Bill and this Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team will be a force to reckon with every weekend of the 2008 Rolex Series season.

"I think the only way to have a shot at the championship is to win a few races and finish all of them. I know Alex Job hired Bill and I with the expectation of winning races and winning the championship, and I plan to give all I've got to make that happen. I would like to thank Alex and Holly Job, along with Ruby Tuesday, for giving me the opportunity to drive for one of the most sought-after teams in racing."

Hand and Auberlen will next drive the Alex Job Racing-prepared #23 at the January Test Days leading into the opening round at Daytona International Speedway.

"I think it's great to have Joey on board," Auberlen said, "What that means to me is no learning curve and we can start winning now! We use the same seat, the same belts and the same set-up. I think, between AJR, Ruby Tuesday, Joey Hand and me, it will be a very lethal combination."

Team boss Alex Job was equally delighted with his new pairing.

"I am really excited to have Joey driving with Bill," he said, "They've driven together for a number of years, their chemistry is very good together, they both like the car set up the same way and, with that in mind, the team's transition into having two new drivers should be very smooth.

"I think we have a very strong chance to win a championship this year. The reason I like our chances is because of the mandatory two-driver format. [With this format], it's very important to have two co-drivers that get along well, who like the car set up the same and who are similar in size.

"The talent of each of these two drivers [is phenomenal]. Both drivers are very successful in their own right - given the respective backgrounds they've come from - and, although this is the first time I will be working with Joey, being somewhat familiar with his background and his previous success, I feel very confident we will do well together."

 

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