Max Angelelli crossed the finish line more than three seconds ahead of Alex Gurney Saturday in the Grand-Am Armed Forces 250 at Sears Point, giving SunTrust Racing - a perennial Rolex Sports Car Series frontrunner - its first win of the season.
Max Angelelli crossed the finish line more than three seconds ahead of Alex Gurney Saturday in the Grand-Am Armed Forces 250 at Sears Point, giving SunTrust Racing - a perennial Rolex Sports Car Series frontrunner - its first win of the season. Awarded the pole after Brian Frisselle's AIM Autosport Ford Riley failed post-qualifying technical inspection, the SunTrust Pontiac Dallara shared by Angelelli and Michael Valiante was the class of the 17-car Daytona Prototype field, leading 80 of 102 laps around the 12-turn, 2.45-mile road course and turning the race's fastest lap.
"I'm definitely very happy," said Angelelli after the team's first win since Montreal, in 2007. "Pole position, fastest lap, and a race win. It couldn't be any better."
The win was the 12th of Angelelli's career and the first Rolex Series victory for Valiante, who had not won a professional race in four years. It was also the first for Dallara in the Daytona Prototype class and the first by a car other than a Riley in 2008.
"With all of the problems we have had all year long, it was a textbook race," added Valiante, who led the race's first 22 laps. "This year there's been a lot of pressure on the team, myself, and Max to get results and win races. It's a huge relief to finally get my first win but to be honest my win is in a small scale compared with what the team has accomplished."
Last year's winners, Gurney and Jon Fogarty, ended up second for the fourth time this season. "It was definitely a little bit different from last year," said Gurney. "I think we were the fastest car last year. But this year the SunTrust guys definitely set the pace most of the weekend. They definitely had us scratching our heads and a little worried really. We made some changes to the car over the weekend and it was the best it was in the race. But their pace was just a little bit too much."
Winners of the last two races, Frisselle and Mark Wilkins finished third, followed by the No. 59 Brumos Porsche of Joao Barbosa and J.C. France and the No. 76 Krohn Racing Pontiac Lola driven by Nic Jonsson and Ricardo Zonta.
After being penalized for contact with Darren Law's Brumos Porsche Riley on Lap 67, Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas finished sixth in the Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley. They currently have a 42-point lead over Gurney and Fogarty in the drivers' championship with two races remaining in the 14-race schedule. "Obviously, we're disappointed with the outcome, but at the same time we're still fighting for the championship," said Pruett. "We received a stop-and-go penalty that I wouldn't necessarily agree with, but Grand-Am decided they wanted to do that and that's that. There's nothing we can do about that. I thought we might have had a shot for the podium before the penalty, but it was so difficult to pass here."
Rounding out the top-10 were the No. 77 Doran Racing Ford Dallara, the Alex Job Racing Porsche Riley, the No. 58 Brumos Porsche Riley, and the No. 47 Doran Racing Ford Dallara.
The GT class did not take part in the race for the third time this year.
The next Rolex Series race is Sunday, August 31 at New Jersey Motorsports Park.