From the penthouse to the outhouse and back to the penthouse again for Max Angelelli, Jordan Taylor and the rest of the No. 10 Velocity Worldwide Corvette Dallara DP team of Wayne Taylor Racing (WTR) after their methodical victory in Saturday’s GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series Porsche 250 at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala.
It was Angelelli’s 22nd career Rolex Series win, third on the all-time list only to four-time champions Scott Pruett (39) and Memo Rojas (26) and the first Daytona Prototype-class win for Jordan Taylor to go with his two career GT-class wins in 47 combined starts.
“For me, from my standpoint, it was pretty easy because all I had to do was maintain the gap and look after the tires. So I did that all along and it turned out great,” said Angelelli, who took over for Taylor during a green-flag pit stop just past the halfway point of today’s two-hour race, took the lead with 43 minutes remaining and held off the polesitting and most recent race-winning No. 99 Gainsco/Bob Stallings Racing Corvette of Alex Gurney all the way to the checkered flag. “The Velocity Worldwide Corvette was great. Jordan allowed me to drive such a race. It was an easy stint. He put our car in such a good position, in front of the 99, and that’s really what made the difference. The team did a really good call by pitting early. I was the one trying to get us to do the race only on one stop but, as usual, they didn’t listen to me. But it turned out to be a good call by the team and we went on won the race.”
Taylor started the day with a clean opening stint from the third starting spot he earned in qualifying Friday. He chased the polesitting Jon Fogarty in the No. 99 Corvette DP and his brother Ricky in the No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Racing Corvette DP for the first 11 laps before the team made the strategic decision to back off the pace and conserve fuel for the time being. That allowed Memo Rojas in the No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates BMW Riley to take away the third spot.
But, when the day’s only full-course caution appeared three laps later, with 21 minutes gone in the race, Taylor was called into the pits for a fuel-only stop, as did Fogarty and Rojas. Incredibly quick work by the Velocity Worldwide crew enabled Taylor to rejoin the race ahead of Rojas in the seventh position, but behind Forgarty. The top-five cars all stayed on track during the caution period.
The race went back to green at the 30-minute mark and, one-by-one, the top-five cars all pitted for fuel and tires as Fogarty, Taylor and Rojas moved on up in the order. At the 47-minute mark, Taylor was able to pick up Fogarty’s position as the Gainsco driver was forced off course by a pack of GT-class cars but was able to continue without any damage. Taylor was in the lead for the first time at precisely the halfway point of the race when Burt Frisselle in the No. 9 Action Express Racing Corvette DP pitted, and he stayed there until pitting under green at the one-hour, six-minute mark to hand the Velocity Worldwide Corvette DP over to Angelelli.
“It was a pretty exciting day, I’d say,” said Taylor, who won the GT-class pole here last year with the Autohaus Camaro team and also earned a runner-up finish after qualifying on the front row with the Racers Edge Mazda team in 2010. “The first 10 or 15 minutes wasn’t great, for me. I caught up to some GT traffic and Rojas was able to get by me. But we were also saving fuel at the point, so I knew that if it came down to fuel, we’d be in a good position to jump them. Our guys did a great job and we were able to get out in front of them. We were able to maintain a decent pace the rest of the way and the car was super strong. So, it was exciting to win. Being out of the car for the last 50 minutes, that was pretty stressful. I’m used to finishing the races in GT. Max did a great job, and here we are.”
Angelelli resumed in fourth place after taking over from Taylor and patiently ran a strong pace while waiting for the three cars ahead of him to make their final stops of the day. After assuming the lead with 43 minutes remaining, his position was never threatened the rest of the way. He crossed the finish line 4.116 seconds ahead of Gurney. Ricky Taylor and Richard Westbrook took the final podium spot in the No. 90 Spirit of Daytona entry to make it a 1-2-3 finish for Corvette DPs.
With the win, Angelelli and Taylor improved one spot to third in the Rolex Series standings, five points (93-88) behind the series-leading Pruett and Rojas and three points (91-88) behind the second-place Gurney and Fogarty, who finished second today. The Ganassi duo placed fourth.
“The team has worked so hard since the beginning of the season and, clearly, we’ve been better than the rest in the pits all season,” Wayne Taylor said. “Sometimes, you need to have a little bit of luck to win these things, but I just can’t say enough about this team and how everybody has elevated their game to perfection. A huge thanks to Velocity Worldwide coming on board at the time they did. You know, it was really a tough time at the end of last season trying to get everything together. I owe a special thanks to Paul Blakely, Enda McShane and Brian Stockman from Velocity. And, to Toshiba, who have stuck with us through everything we’ve done over the years. I have so much to do to repay them. And then there’s General Motors. Everything that Mark Kent, Jim Campbell, Mark Reuss – the support that they’ve put behind the series and behind these Corvette teams is just incredible. I can’t thank them enough. I’m just so happy for everybody.”