WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (June 26, 2012) – Timing is everything when it comes to most things in life. And the timing couldn’t possibly be better for a return trip to New York’s beautiful Finger Lakes region for Max Angelelli, Ricky Taylor and the No. 10 SunTrust Corvette Dallara DP team of Wayne Taylor Racing.
Sunday’s GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen has been circled on the calendar of everyone in the SunTrust Racing camp even before one of the series’ most successful and reliable competitors over the years in recent weeks was stricken with not one, not two, but three consecutive DNFs (did not finish) and now finds itself in somewhat of a deep hole in the championship standings.
Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International was the place where Angelelli, Taylor and the SunTrust team simply could do no wrong in 2011 as they qualified on the pole and won both the Sahlen’s six-hour marathon in June and the August sprint race on the NASCAR short course, leading a whopping 205 of 274 (75 percent) of the race laps contested and clocking the fastest laps by far in both events.
The June six-hour race, in particular, was a breakthrough performance on a number of fronts for the SunTrust team, which scored its first Sahlen’s six-hour victory in eight attempts since joining the Rolex Series in 2004. Its maiden six-hour win became the exclamation point on an already impressive list of finishes in the annual event, having posted runner-up finishes in 2004, 2009 and 2010, and consecutive third-place finishes from 2006 to 2008. That’s now seven podiums in eight Sahlen’s six-hour runs for the SunTrust team.
Moreover, last year’s Sahlen’s six-hour was the race in which the then-21-year-old Taylor turned heads in the biggest way ever just a season and a half since joining the veteran Angelelli as his full-time SunTrust Racing co-driver.
Taylor took on the role of qualifier, race starter and race finisher for the first time and he most certainly delivered, qualifying on the pole for what turned out to be the second of six consecutive poles over the latter two-thirds of last season.
When the green flag fell on race day, Taylor held the point in commanding fashion during his opening 90-minute stint, which included brief but significant rain showers that passed through the area and made a mess of the 3.4-mile, 11-turn road course.
Then, after Angelelli finished his stellar mid-race stint by leading a hefty 65 laps of his own, Taylor took over for the final sprint to the finish and did a marvelous job keeping all competitors at bay. He opened and maintained a comfortable 10-second lead over his closest pursuers, not the least of which included three-time series champion Scott Pruett in the No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates BMW Riley. Taylor then held off Pruett on a nail-biting restart with just 12 minutes remaining and powered his way to the checkered flag like a seasoned veteran.
It expectedly touched off quite a celebration in victory lane. Happiest among those in the SunTrust contingent was team owner and three-time sports-car-racing champion Wayne Taylor, Ricky’s father, who in his illustrious career drove to victories in the world’s most prestigious events, including the Rolex 24 At Daytona, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the 12 Hours of Sebring and the Petit Le Mans, but never won the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen. Safe to say, seeing his oldest son do the honors was the next-best thing to winning it himself.
Practice for Sunday’s Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen begins Friday morning with qualifying set for Saturday at 11:40 a.m. EDT. Race time Sunday is 11 a.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 10:45 a.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:
Your overall thoughts as you head back to defend last year’s win in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen?
“We’re definitely feeling very good about going back there. Watkins Glen obviously has been a very good track for us. Our car has been very good there, and I’m pretty sure that will be the case again this year. We’re looking forward to that race with a fair amount of optimism.”
You’ve said all along that every race is a clean sheet of paper as you’re racing the new Corvette DP for the first time there. What’s your assessment of how things might go this weekend?
“What I’ve seen with the 2012 car is that there is not really a logic where we know in advance how we are going to do, whether we will be struggling with any particular problems or whether we will be fast right away. I’m optimistic this weekend because we’ve always been good at Watkins Glen, and that is because of what we have been able to do with the mechanical side of the car. But because we have a new aero package this year, if I look at the races this year, we didn’t necessarily follow a logical trend in that we were surprisingly good on some racetracks, and we were not good on other tracks where I thought we would be good. I’m not 100-percent sure where The Glen fits in with our current aero package. Hopefully, everything will fall into place and we will have our usual good weekend there.”
Last year’s race was something of a coming out party for your co-driver Ricky Taylor. Talk about his performance last year.
“We had a very good race from the entire team’s perspective. It was the perfect race, if there ever was one. Ricky did really, really well, as he always has. This is not going to change. I’m sure he will deliver a top performance, as usual, this weekend. I don’t see that changing. That is a constant. Last year was a very complete performance for him because it was double duty – actually it was triple duty because he qualified the car, he started the race and he finished the race for the first time. We all knew and saw his capability to that point, but he exceeded what we expected because he basically nailed all of it at The Glen. He qualified on the pole, he was very strong at the start of the race, and he completed the race. He completed the race and we won the race. So, I would say he exceeded all of our expectations. It was very special and we were all very proud of him.”
Ricky Taylor, co-driver of the No. 10 SunTrust Racing Corvette Dallara DP:
There’s probably no better scenario for you and the team right now than going back to Watkins Glen, where you were so successful last year. How do you feel about going back to the scene of one of your biggest wins?
“I think it will be very nice, coming off the bad weekend and all. This weekend, it’ll be nice to be somewhere we have some confidence and I can go back to somewhere we had such a good year last year, both weekends. We hope we can get back to where the car will be fast and make up for my mistakes the last few races. We were the dominant car at both Watkins Glen races last year, but I definitely think it’ll be much more challenging this year. The thing is, our Watkins Glen car the last three years was really good. This year, with the new Corvette DP, we haven’t quite got the mapping that we had with the Dallara as far as setups and everything. We don’t quite have that book of experience there with this package, yet. But we know what the car needs and we know what makes a good car there. All of that, combined with the new rule changes, with the extra RPMs for the Fords and the BMW, that’s only going to make it more interesting.”
The team really did a good job, once again, putting you in position to win the race at Road America last weekend. How difficult has it been for you, personally, the last few days?
“The team has been incredibly consistent this year in putting us on a winning strategy. We’ve had great pit stops and the preparation has been excellent. I think it was a great call, as it turned out, to try to finish the race at Road America on one stop. It probably would’ve become a bit of a struggle at the end as we would’ve been on older tires than everybody else. But we were there. That’s what makes it so frustrating, so disappointing. I wish I could take it back. It was so terrible. I was just thinking about the restart and everything. I was trying to clean off the tires. We had been saving fuel during that yellow, so I didn’t get the go-ahead to start scrubbing the tires until the very end of the yellow. That was my last chance to get all the pickup off the tires. I guess I was being too aggressive in doing that and I lost a little focus and let the car get away from me. It was awful, but I’m so glad we’re going back to Watkins Glen this weekend.”
Wayne Taylor, team owner of the No. 10 SunTrust Racing Corvette Dallara DP:
It’s been the roughest stretch for SunTrust since it joined the Rolex Series in 2004. Are you glad to be headed to The Glen?
“Obviously, it’s been very tough on the team, and tough on Ricky, really tough, having these things happen at Detroit and Road America. Firstly, Ricky is a professional and he’s very dedicated and he has everything right in his mind about this whole thing. What people might forget is, in two-plus seasons, he hadn’t made one mistake. And now he’s made two and there is a little worry. Ricky’s been beating himself up badly. At the end of the day, he’s going to come out and he’s going to be fast, like he’s been. The team will support him, Max will support him. We will not change anything. Max will be the finishing driver this weekend, the reverse of last year. They’ve been taking turns closing all season and now it’s Max’s turn. Last year’s six-hour, if you ever wanted a perfect weekend, that was it. Ricky qualified on the pole, led the race. Max led, gave back to Ricky, and we won the race. For me, never having won it, now Ricky’s won it, that made it so fantastic for the team, for him and Max. Hopefully, we’ll go back and win it again this weekend.”
Source: SunTrust Racing