High and Tight at Barber Second-Place Effort Keeps Grand Am Title in Sight for SunTrust Racing Team Max Angelelli and Jan Magnussen drove the No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley to a strong second-place finish in the Daytona Prototype division ...
High and Tight at Barber Second-Place Effort Keeps Grand Am Title in Sight for SunTrust Racing Team
Max Angelelli and Jan Magnussen drove the No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley to a strong second-place finish in the Daytona Prototype division of Sunday's Porsche 250 presented by Bradley Arant Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series race at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala.
The second-place effort pushed Angelelli to second in the driver championship standings and kept the SunTrust Racing Team in championship contention as well. The Angelelli/Magnussen duo bumped the SunTrust Racing Team up one spot to second in the team standings, 13 points arrears the series leading Krohn Racing Team with just three races remaining.
Angelelli, who maintained all weekend long that the SunTrust Pontiac Riley had to win at Barber, nearly pulled it off, coming up just short on a restart with six laps remaining in the two-hour, 45-minute contest.
On lap 88 of the 97-lap affair, Angelelli was up close to the leading Krohn Racing Ford Riley driven by Jorg Bergmeister. He nearly sneaked past Bergmeister coming off turn eight of the winding 2.38-mile layout, but a crash by B.J. Zacharias brought out a full-course caution with slightly more than 11 minutes remaining in the timed event. And even though Angelelli and the SunTrust Racing Team would have one more shot at Bergmeister, time was running out on defending their race victory from a year ago.
On the final restart, Angelelli made one last charge at Bergmeister, but the German driver held him off to win by 1.327 seconds. It was Krohn Racing's third victory of the season and their second straight.
"I felt we were pretty close in terms of performance, but at the end, the last two laps, Jorg had just a little more than I did," said Angelelli after the race. "I pushed very hard, and when you push, you make mistakes, which I did. I fell a little back, tried to recover, but Jorg was really fast. I was giving everything I had just to get there."
Angelelli had taken over from Magnussen on lap 44 after the Danish driver had complained of the heat inside the car. After he got out, Magnussen learned he had inadvertently switched off the cool suit he was wearing to combat the 90 degree-plus temperatures.
Magnussen started the race in third and moved to second in the early going, only to lose it a few laps later when another car got inside of him as he headed into the hairpin. He turned the car over to Angelelli in 10th place after the pit stop.
"The car worked well," said Magnussen of his time behind the wheel. "I got a little bit hot just before I came out, but without knowing it, I switched off the cool suit. I thought it quit working, so I called in and said I was getting hot.
"When I gave the car to Max, he went out and really pushed hard and got up through the field. At the beginning of the race, everyone had chosen different pit stop strategies, and it was a little confusing as to who stopped and who hadn't. We did the best job we could do."
As competitors revealed their strategies, team owner Wayne Taylor and his crew stayed with theirs - save fuel until the last 20 minutes and charge toward the front.
"Max and Jan drove perfectly, but the 76 car (Krohn Racing) had just a little bit more than we had," said Taylor after the race. "It was a perfect strategy. We just didn't have enough speed. But we've got Watkins Glen (N.Y.), Sonoma (Calif.) and a nine-hour race at Miller (Tooele, Utah) left. I'll be back in the car at Watkins Glen and for the last one in Utah."
It has been a long road back for Angelelli and the SunTrust Racing Team, which left Daytona after the season-opening Rolex 24 Hour race in 29th place. Sunday's result leapfrogged Angelelli past Scott Pruett and Luis Diaz into second in the driver standings, 39 points behind Bergmeister. Pruett was tagged by Krohn Racing's second car, driven by Tracy Krohn, on the final lap and dropped from seventh to 10th.
Finishing behind Bergmeister and Angelelli were Mike Rockenfeller (Alex Job Racing) in third, Jon Fogarty (Gainsco/Blackhawk Racing) in fourth and Adrian Fernandez (Lowe's Fernandez Racing) in fifth.
The Daytona Prototypes of the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series will race again Aug. 11 in the Crown Royal 200 at Watkins Glen International. The race begins at 6:30 p.m. EDT with Speed providing tape-delayed coverage at 9 p.m.