Birmingham: Race report

Taylor & Angelelli Take Third Win of 2005 Rolex Series Season in Porsche 250 presented by Bradley Arant BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (July 31, 2005) -- Wayne Taylor and Max Angelelli kicked off the second half of the 2005 Grand American Rolex Sports Car ...

Taylor & Angelelli Take Third Win of 2005 Rolex Series Season in Porsche 250 presented by Bradley Arant

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (July 31, 2005) -- Wayne Taylor and Max Angelelli kicked off the second half of the 2005 Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series season the same way they opened the first half, as the No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley co-drivers picked up their third victory of the season in the Porsche 250 presented by Bradley Arant at Barber Motorsports Park.

After running as low as 14th at one point in the race by adopting a different pit strategy, the No. 10 teammates patiently worked themselves back into position to challenge for the victory. Angelelli led 14 laps early in the race before handing the car over to Taylor, and took over to drive the final stint on Lap 51 of the 95-lap race. The Italian carved his way through the field to second place by Lap 78 and kept the pressure on the race-leading Christian Fittipaldi in the No. 66 Krohn Racing/TRG Pontiac Riley.

Angelelli pulled alongside Fittipaldi in Turn 5 on Lap 88, but was unable to close the deal and Fittipaldi began growing his margin and looked to be headed for victory. However, with three laps remaining, Fittipaldi pulled onto pit lane for a late splash of fuel, surrendering the race to Angelelli and Taylor. Angelelli was not challenged in the final three laps, beating Memo Gidley's No. 19 Make A Wish/Air Force Reserve/Commercial Defeasance BMW Riley to the finish line by 18.585 seconds.

"I had a feeling he was pulling away from me on the straights and going up on the corners, so there was either one of two things -- more horsepower, which was not the case, or a lighter car," Angelelli said "I was expecting him to pit for fuel. I was worried because I know how difficult it is to overtake here at this track. You really need to take huge risks every time to overtake a car. The car in front of you needs to understand that that it is not the end of the world to lose a position, but some drivers really don't get it. They don't care and they don't want to lose a position and that really ticked me off. I was more worried about myself."

It was the first victory for Angelelli and Taylor since they opened the season with back-to-back wins in the prestigious Rolex 24 At Daytona in February and the Grand Prix of Miami in March. They were also able to extend the lead they share in the Daytona Prototype driver standings, as Taylor and Angelelli are now 14 points ahead of defending Daytona Prototype co-champion Scott Pruett and his No. 01 CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley co-driver, Luis Diaz (247-233).

"We put a lot of stress on ourselves with this race, and it's really important for us to win the championship," Taylor said. "You've just got to stick to your plan and wait until the end of the year. There's no point and resting on any laurels because 99 times out of 100 when you do that, you get caught out. We have to approach every race the same way, and we did that coming here."

After three-consecutive fourth-place finishes, Gidley and his Finlay Motorsports co-driver, Michael McDowell posted new Rolex Series career-best results with a second-place showing in the Porsche 250. Gidley led for eight laps in the middle of the race and the No. 19 co-drivers used a similar strategy to the No. 10 team. However, while Angelelli was unfettered in his drive to the checkered flag, Gidley had his hands full in keeping Kenny Wilden's No. 6 Mears Motor Coach Pontiac Riley in his mirrors.

"The car was really good in the first part of the race, with fuel consumption and tire wear all well within the plan," Gidley said. "We knew that if we could stay out of trouble and bring the car home that we had the car to finish on the podium and maybe even win. We had two of the top people from the Air Force Reserve here this weekend, and a lot more watching on TV, and since they were the ones that had faith in me and gave me the chance to drive for the Finlay team, I'd like to thank them and dedicate this first podium finish to the Air Force Reserve. We'll be working to upgrade it to a win as soon as we can."

The second-place finish was vindication of sorts for McDowell, who crashed the No. 19 machine in Saturday's morning practice session. Compounding McDowell's Saturday problems was another crash in the team's No. 60 BMW M3 in the Grand-Am Cup Series Barber Park 200 while he was challenging for the race lead.

"After crashing twice on Saturday, the (Daytona) Prototype in the morning and then the Cup car in the race, I needed some redeeming, and this was it," McDowell said. "Finlay Motorsports is a brand-new team, and to finish on the podium for the first time was something we've been working really hard to achieve. The guys on the crew did a tremendous job repairing the car before qualifying yesterday, and Memo pulled off a miracle to put it sixth on the grid given how much was still wrong with it when he rolled out to qualify. He handed it over to me in first place, and I was hoping to be able to bring it home there, but the competition in this series is incredibly tough and we're satisfied with second place -- this time."

Wilden and co-driver Mike Borkowski came home third in the No. 6 Daytona Prototype for Michael Shank Racing. Borkowski led Laps 49-52, but missed an opportunity to pit with the rest of the leaders when a full-course caution flag came out and pulled onto pit lane one lap later. As a result, Wilden restarted from 16th place and put together a spectacular charge to finish third.

Pruett and Diaz finished fourth in the No. 01 CompUSA Lexus, taking their eighth-straight top-seven finish to remain within sight of the Daytona Prototype championship leaders. Germany's Ralf Kelleners and 2003 Daytona Prototype champion Terry Borcheller took their second top-five result of the season in the No. 54 Kodak EasyShare Bell Motorsports Pontiac Doran with a fifth-place performance.

David Donohue and Darren Law scored their best result of the season with a sixth-place result in the No. 58 Red Bull Porsche Fabcar for Brumos Racing, followed by Chip Ganassi Racing co-drivers Cort Wagner and Stefan Johansson in the No. 02 New Century Mortgage Lexus Riley.

Polesitter Alex Gurney--who became the 35th different driver to hold the overall lead in the 2005 Rolex Series season--led the first 20 laps prior to his first pit stop and took over for co-driver and car owner Bob Stallings in the No. 99 GAINSCO/Blackhawk Racing Pontiac Riley for the final stint. Gurney may have challenged for the victory had he not been forced to serve a one-minute penalty for avoidable contact while battling for position with Fabrizio Gollin in the No. 77 Crown Royal Special Reserve Ford Doran. The penalty relegated Gurney and Stallings to an eighth-place finish.

Despite the late-race splash-and-go, Fittipaldi still ran out of fuel on the cool-down lap and had to hitch a ride back to the pits with Pruett in the No. 01 machine. Fittipaldi, who led a race-high 39 laps, and co-driver Jorg Bergmeister wound up ninth in the final race standings. Gollin and co-driver Matteo Bobbi completed the top 10 for Doran Racing in their first outing with Ford power after switching from Lexus engines.

HAND AND MARKS WIN FROM GT POLE AT BARBER TO COLLECT ACXCIOM BONUS

Just as Max Angelelli and Christian Fittipaldi were deciding the Daytona Prototype victory, Joey Hand motored his No. 16 F1 Air BMW M3 past GT points leader Craig Stanton's No. 80 Synergy Racing Porsche GT3 Cup to take a second-consecutive GT victory for himself and BMW Team PTG co-driver Justin Marks. It was Hand's fourth GT class victory of the season, allowing him to move into a second-place tie in the GT driver standings with Stanton's co-driver, David Murry.

Marks started from the GT class pole position in the No. 16, and the duo became the first team to win from the class pole since Hand and Bill Auberlen won from the pole in the No. 21 BMW Financial Services M3 at California Speedway in April. As a result, Hand and Marks collected an extra $8,000 for winning from the pole through the Acxiom GT rollover bonus.

"I love having Justin start the car; I have so much confidence in him," Hand said. "I raced with Bill Auberlen a lot this year and last year, and he's one of those guys you can count on. Justin is also one of those guys. If I have to run a race with someone, he's on top of the list. He's great running through traffic, and did what he was supposed to. This PTG car was stellar. We worked hard on this car, and the team did a great job on setup. We led our group of cars all weekend long, and we knew this was ours to lose. We were shooting for the Acxiom Pole Award -- 8,000 bucks. Justin and I race for dollars all the time. Tom Milner and the crew chief were helping me through it. It was a great day for BMW."

"I'm really happy to get this win," added Marks. "If someone had told me at the beginning of the season that I'd have three wins by now, I'd have thought they were crazy. This team is really good and these cars are really good. This track is suited really well for our cars. Joey did a great job this weekend setting up the car, and the team did an awesome job. I was really surprised to get the pole, and the strategy was to keep the car in front and give it to Joey. He has been on fire all this weekend. I knew if we were able to be close to the front we'd be in a position to win this race, and Joey was able to pull it off in the end, so I'm really happy about that."

Stanton and Murry came up just eight-tenths of a second short as they looked for their first Rolex Series GT victory of the season. Nevertheless, the second-place run was more than enough to keep Stanton in a comfortable lead in the GT point standings after eight of 14 races. Stanton leads Murry and Hand by 18 points, 228-210.

Ian James and Chris Gleason finished third in the No. 22 BMW Financial Services M3, marking the fourth time this season that BMW Team PTG has two cars finish on the podium. The new TRG Pontiac GTO.Rs filled out the top five, as Marc Bunting and Andy Lally finished fourth in the No. 65 GTO.R, while Paul Edwards and Jan Magnussen finished fifth in the similar No. 64 entry.

-grandamerican.com

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Alex Gurney , Paul Edwards , Fabrizio Gollin , Jan Magnussen , Ralf Kelleners , Memo Gidley , Christian Fittipaldi , Scott Pruett , Wayne Taylor , David Murry , Bill Auberlen , Joey Hand , Luis Diaz , Ian James , Andy Lally , Terry Borcheller , Darren Law , David Donohue , Jörg Bergmeister , Michael McDowell , Matteo Bobbi , Max Angelelli , Justin Marks , Chris Gleason , Mike Borkowski , Craig Stanton , Marc Bunting , Chip Ganassi , Michael Shank , Cort Wagner
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing , Krohn Racing , Doran Racing , Michael Shank Racing