Birmingham: SunTrust Racing preview

The No. 10 SunTrust Ford Dallara of Wayne Taylor Racing will start Saturday's GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series Porsche 250 from the pole after qualifying Friday at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala. Ricky Taylor, the 20-year-old son of...

The No. 10 SunTrust Ford Dallara of Wayne Taylor Racing will start Saturday's GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series Porsche 250 from the pole after qualifying Friday at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala.

Ricky Taylor, the 20-year-old son of three-time sports car racing champion and team owner Wayne Taylor, blistered the track record with a lap of 1 minute, 19.624 seconds (103.988 mph) around the 2.3-mile, 17-turn road course to become the second-youngest Daytona Prototype-class pole winner in Rolex Series history. It was only the second-ever qualifying effort for Taylor in the SunTrust Racing Ford, and it was the second pole three races this season and 15th all-time for the SunTrust team. Taylor will be making his 23rd career Rolex Series start when he leads 29 car-and-driver combinations to the green flag Saturday afternoon.

"I knew what we could do, I just wasn't sure how quick everybody else would go," said Taylor, who beat by almost a full second the previous pole qualifying record set here in 2008 by Michael Valiante in the No. 10 SunTrust Racing machine (1:20.521 at 102.830 mph). "We improved the car a lot since yesterday and I think we've now got a really good car. I'm really happy. It's the best team in the paddock. I know they give me the equipment to do it every weekend. Hopefully there are more of these to come."

Taylor, new full-time co-driver this season to veteran Max Angelelli, who qualified the car on the pole at the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona, especially appreciates the chance start on the pole Saturday as it comes at the highly technical Barber Motorsports Park layout, which snakes back and forth through 17 turns and numerous elevation changes. Colin Braun is the youngest pole qualifier in Rolex Series history, having clocked the fastest lap in the No. 75 Krohn Racing entry, coincidentally, here at Barber in 2006 at the age of 17. Braun went on to win the race that year.

"I think of all the tracks, this is one of the most important to start on the pole," said Taylor, a sophomore mechanical engineering major at the University of Central Florida. "I've never started on the pole in Grand-Am, so that'll be a little bit of a learning thing. I've done it before in other series, so I'll go based on that."

Antonio Garcia, in the No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Porsche Coyote, earned the outside-front-row starting spot while the No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates BMW Riley and No. 99 Gainsco/Bob Stallings Racing Chevrolet Riley will start in third and fourth, respectively.

"I'm ecstatic. I just can't remember being this happy," said team owner Wayne Taylor, who co-drove the SunTrust team to victory here with Angelelli en route to the 2005 Rolex Series championship. "A big thanks goes to Max, the entire team, SunTrust, our other sponsors, everybody who allowed us to give Ricky this chance. I always thought that Ricky had it, but a lot of people questioned it, and you start wondering, so you never really know. But, to get pole at a track like this, against the names that are out there competing against us week in and week out, that just proves we made the right decision. This is very much a driver's circuit. It's very demanding. He'll be starting from the pole for the first time in these cars, so we'll get to talk him through the start procedure from that respect, but it's really nothing new to him. I don't think it's going to be particularly daunting for him, but we'll talk him through it, just like we've done with our drivers every weekend."

-source: str

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Antonio Garcia , Wayne Taylor , Colin Braun , Michael Valiante , Max Angelelli , Chip Ganassi , Bob Stallings , Felix Sabates , Ricky Taylor
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing , Krohn Racing , Wayne Taylor Racing