SunTrust Back on the Podium at Birmingham Team Closes Gap in Championship With Third-Place Finish As Angelelli Overcome With Heat Exhaustion Following Checker Max Angelelli succumbed to the effects of extreme heat exhaustion ...
SunTrust Back on the Podium at Birmingham
Team Closes Gap in Championship With Third-Place Finish As Angelelli Overcome With Heat Exhaustion Following Checker
Max Angelelli succumbed to the effects of extreme heat exhaustion after completing the final 89 laps of today's Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Porsche 250 at Barber Motorsports Park, but not before holding of a fierce challenge behind the wheel of the No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley of Wayne Taylor Racing for the third and final spot on the podium and inching a bit closer to the driver and team championship lead.
Angelelli's cool suit never worked after he jumped into the cockpit of the SunTrust machine for co-driver Memo Gidley on Lap 11 of today's 99-lap event on a hot, sunny Alabama afternoon. It made his podium finish all the more remarkable as he dealt with cockpit temperatures well above the 115-degree mark for some two hours of racing. After taking the checkered flag in front of the fourth-place No. 58 Brumos Porsche of David Donohue and Darren Law, and the fifth-place No. 01 Telmex Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Lexus Riley of Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas, Angelelli managed to drive the SunTrust car back around to pit lane, where he finally collapsed behind the wheel and had to be removed from the car by emergency medical officials and transported to the track medical facility to be treated for heat exhaustion. He received intravenous fluids for approximately 90 minutes before he was released in good condition.
The third-place finish pulled Angelelli to within 11 points of driver championship leader Pruett (298-287) with today's race-winning duo of Jon Fogarty and Alex Gurney close behind in third place, 13 points out of the lead. The SunTrust team pulled to within 16 points of the team championship-leading No. 01 entry (298-282), but saw the Fogarty and Gurney's No. 99 Gainsco/Bob Stallings Racing Pontiac Riley entry leapfrog past into second place with 285 points.
Today's win by the No. 99 team was its fifth of the season, its fourth from the pole, and came by a 6-second margin over the No. 75 Krohn Racing Pontiac Riley of Colin Braun and Nic Jonsson.
After Gidley held his starting position of fourth for the first 10 laps of the race, he dove into the pits during the day's first of three caution periods and handed the SunTrust car over to Angelelli, who resumed in 10th place. In true Angelelli fashion, the Italian picked off car after car over the next 17 laps, finding himself in sixth when the second caution flag of the day appeared on Lap 45 and he came pitted for fuel and tires. Quick work by the SunTrust crew sent Angelelli back out in third position as the race went back to green on Lap 49. Angelelli held off the relentless challenges of Donohue in the No. 58 and Pruett in the No. 01 over the last 50 laps for the team's seventh podium finish in 10 events this season. It was the SunTrust team's fourth consecutive podium finish at Barber, a run that includes a victory in its 2005 championship season and runner-up finishes in 2004 and 2006.
"I cannot believe it. I don't know how I did it," Angelelli said after being released from the infield medical center. "Definitely, it was like a bad dream. I cannot even connect right now. My head is so fuzzy. Thank goodness we have a week off."
"We came here, we needed to be ahead of the 01 car, and we managed to do that," said team owner Wayne Taylor. "Other than that, nobody was a match for the 99 and the 75 car today. They were in a different race. They figured something out. The points are a little bit tighter. It's a little tough. It's always good to be on the podium. But if you look at Max and how he gave it his all, it was a tough race. It was frightening for a moment there afterward, but the doctors replaced his fluids and thank goodness he's all right. Memo did such a great job for us the entire weekend. He's an absolute pleasure to have. We look forward to having him now for Watkins Glen and Sonoma."
"I know it was a great race, but we were really concerned about Max there for a while," Gidley said. "He did a really long stint with his cool suit not working. I'm glad he's all right. As for me, it's great to get into this situation with a SunTrust team and Wayne Taylor Racing, which is put together really well. They give you a car that's able to run at the front. I did very few laps in practice and ended up qualifying fourth. The plan was to stay in front of the 01 car. We had a good gap on them already on the early yellow, so we were able to make our driver change then and that paid off for us later. It was an awesome strategy. It was hard to sit there and just watch, but it was an awesome strategy. And it's great working with Max. I've been sort of the team leader with guys that I have been racing with the last few years. It's awesome to get into a situation where Max has so much experience and I can learn a lot from him. I really enjoyed the experience and it was an awesome job for SunTrust by the team this weekend."
After their first weekend off in a month, the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series competitors get back on track on Friday, Aug. 3, at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal for a 400-kilometer prelude to the NASCAR Busch Series' first-ever visit to Canada on Saturday. Jan Magnussen will be back as Angelelli's co-driver. Rolex Series race time Aug. 3 is 4:15 p.m. EDT with tape-delayed television coverage provided by SPEED-TV at 8 p.m.