A Little Redemption at Mid-Ohio Could Go a Long Way
LEXINGTON, Ohio (June 5, 2012) – A new race week and a change of scenery bring hopes of sweet redemption for Max Angelelli, Ricky Taylor and the No. 10 SunTrust Corvette Dallara DP team of Wayne Taylor Racing as they head to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington for Saturday’s annual GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series EMCO Gears Classic.
Just last Saturday, the SunTrust team saw its modest two-race win streak come to an unexpected end midway through the inaugural Chevrolet GRAND-AM 200 on Detroit’s Belle Isle street circuit. But instead of hanging their heads, the SunTrust drivers and crew left Detroit more determined than ever to get back on the winning track during this week’s two-hour, 45-minute race around the beautiful 2.258-mile, 13-turn Mid-Ohio layout.
After all, there is some serious momentum to regain in their quest for the Rolex Series championship, having arrived at Detroit with back-to-back wins at Homestead-Miami Speedway and New Jersey Motorsports Park in Millville, and a comfortable lead last Saturday in Detroit as the two-hour race on Belle Isle approached the midpoint with enough fuel in the tank to get them to the finish. Why, they’re not going to let an unexpected brush with the pit-exit wall – which snuck up on Taylor while leading on lap 35 to end the SunTrust team’s day at Detroit – be anything more than a slight blip on the radar.
And, forget the fact that, of all the racetracks where the SunTrust team has competed since joining the Rolex Series in 2004, Mid-Ohio has been about the most difficult nut to crack. Sure, there has been just one podium and an average finish of 7.125 to show for the team’s previous eight visits there. But if determination has anything to do with the final outcome this weekend, the SunTrust team is certainly looking to outdo itself on the racetrack that has made the annual championship chase just a little rough over the last eight seasons.
The 22-year-old Taylor, more than anybody else on the team, can’t get back behind the wheel of the SunTrust Corvette DP soon enough after his tough bit of racing luck last Saturday in Detroit. He’ll relish the role of qualifying driver and race starter this weekend at the track where he put the SunTrust car second on the grid each of the past two seasons, and where he and Angelelli took command of the race lead for 23 of the opening 43 laps last September before clutch problems prematurely ended the SunTrust team’s day.
Mid-Ohio this weekend is the land of opportunity for the SunTrust team in more ways than one – the opportunity to regain the momentum of its recent back-to-back wins, the opportunity to win at a racetrack where victory has been elusive, and the opportunity to erase the memory of last weekend’s misfortune, once and for all.
Practice for Saturday’s two-hour, 45-minute EMCO Gears Classic begins Friday morning with qualifying set for 4:30 p.m. EDT. Race time Saturday is 4:30 p.m. with SPEED carrying the television broadcast live. Live radio by the Motor Racing Network (MRN) and SiriusXM Channel 117 begins with a 15-minute pre-race show at 4:15 p.m. Live timing and scoring during all on-track sessions can be found at www.grand-am.com, and on mobile devices at m.grand-am.com/laptrax.
Max Angelelli, co-driver of the No. 10 SunTrust Racing Corvette Dallara DP:
This has been the craziest, up-and-down season you’ve had in the Rolex Series since you started in 2004. How has that been to deal with?
“All I can say is that it’s great for the championship and for the fans. Things are not only happening to us, but to most of the other cars, too – the (No.) 90 (Spirit of Daytona) car, the AER (Action Express Racing) cars, even the Ganassi car. It’s frustrating when things happen, but overall what’s happened this year is good for the series, good for the fans. I don’t think anybody can tell you who is going to win the championship like you could in previous years. It’s really wide open. It’s open to all the cars that are currently on the entry list. There is no other championship in the world where every car has a chance to win as the middle of the season approaches. The plan for us was more or less to gain control of the points lead by the midpoint of the season, and then manage the points from there. But, everybody has the same idea and we are all just pushing each other to the limit. It’s a very balanced series and that is only a good thing. It seems like every other race, the results sheet is turned upside- down. It’s unpredictable. That means more opportunities for us, but it means more opportunities for everybody else, too. For me, this has always been a fun series. This year, it is especially fun.”
The all-new Corvette DP bodywork was a big question mark at the beginning of the season, but it looks like you really have it working well, the way you’ve been dominating the last several races. Is that truly the case?
“Absolutely not. This year, every single race is a whole new sheet of paper. Every race is an unknown for all the Corvette teams. It’s just that the team that understands the car’s handling most quickly is going to be the better team that weekend. Lately, I feel we, as well as a couple of other teams, have nailed it. For the rest of the season, though, you really don’t know for sure. Next year is going to be a completely different story because we will have been to all of the track with this new car. But, the case this weekend and all the weekends for the rest of the season is, the teams and drivers that understand the car’s behavior most immediately after the first practice are going to be the ones who will succeed.”
What is it about Mid-Ohio that has made it so difficult to finish on the podium for the SunTrust team?
“Mid-Ohio has always been very critical to us. It wasn’t critical for car speed because we always seem to have a fast racecar. It has always been critical for race strategy. We always had a good car that raced the way we wanted it to, but the race strategy didn’t work out. Track position is so important there. You get in the middle of the pack, you get a good car, you try to overtake people and, on a couple of occasions, I got in trouble with it. Part of this was my fault. This weekend, once again, all we need is track position. If we have track position, I’m sure we will have a good result. Our guys are really good at strategy, and we’re getting even better and better each week.”
Ricky Taylor, co-driver of the No. 10 SunTrust Racing Corvette Dallara DP:
You seemed to be pretty hard on yourself after the incident at Detroit last weekend. How difficult is it to get over something like that and move on?
“It’s not going to happen until we get to Mid-Ohio. The bad is I’ve been sitting and just replaying in my mind what happened, over and over. I definitely won’t do it there ever again. I’ll definitely be even more focused than ever when I’m leaving the pits. The good thing is, we’re back on track at Mid-Ohio in just a couple of days. That’s the best medicine. ”
It seems to be a season of extremes, so far, rather than the typical, methodical string of top-fives and podiums. Is that frustrating?
“Things started pretty bad with what happened at Daytona, then they got better. And now, we’re coming off another low point. It’s nice to to know that, in the big picture, we’re really making progress. But it really kills you when you have all that momentum and you have the kind of result we had at Detroit. From this point forward, we know that consistency will win the championship. The (No.) 8 car (Starworks Motorsport) hasn’t been incredibly strong everywhere we’ve gone, but they’ve been consistent and are still leading the championship.”
The SunTrust team has been pretty fast at Mid-Ohio over the years but, for one reason or another, the results haven’t shown it. What is it about that particular track?
“Every year, it’s been just something unlucky happening, or one bad decision or something like that. I think we should have a good car there again this weekend. I don’t think there’s any reason why we shouldn’t have as good of a race as we’ve been having most everywhere this year. I think, in the past, it’s just been little things – getting caught out by a yellow, making contact with another car at a key moment in the race. As long as nothing crazy happens, we should have a solid finish this weekend. I like the track. I think our car is really good and we should be good there this weekend.”
Wayne Taylor, team owner of the No. 10 SunTrust Racing Corvette Dallara DP:
Your general thoughts on this weekend’s race as we head to Mid-Ohio?
“Going into Ohio, it’s a track where we didn’t have a very good result last year. Luckily, we didn’t lose much ground in the points championship like we thought we might at Detroit. The neat thing was that as soon as the incident happened, everybody immediately began focusing on this week. That’s the mark of a championship-minded team. I know they’ll do the great job they have all year long. Everyone is focused. If we could’ve raced at Mid-Ohio the very next day, we were ready. It’s been a crazy season, to say the least. What happened to us at Daytona was just a fluke. We recognize that those things happen. We didn’t have the best race in Alabama, and then suddenly we win two in a row and we’re right back in the points fight. Things were going well, the team and everybody were doing great job. Then we ended with another unfortunate incident at Detroit. The good thing is, everybody learned from it and we know that we have to be careful with the kinds of risks we take going forward. I have a good feeling about this weekend.”