Birmingham: SunTrust Racing race report

Late-Race Mishap Spoils SunTrust's Podium Bid Angelelli Spun While Completing Pass for Third, Has To Settle for 12th After Polesitting Taylor Takes Early Command of Porsche 250 at Barber On a day that saw 20-year-old Ricky Taylor start from...

Late-Race Mishap Spoils SunTrust's Podium Bid

Angelelli Spun While Completing Pass for Third, Has To Settle for 12th After Polesitting Taylor Takes Early Command of Porsche 250 at Barber

On a day that saw 20-year-old Ricky Taylor start from the pole for the first time and take total command of the opening green-flag run during Saturday's GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series Porsche 250 at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala., the No. 10 SunTrust Ford Dallara team of Wayne Taylor Racing leaves with the disappointment of a 12th-place finish after late-race contact ultimately sent the car to the garage for good some 25 minutes before the checkered flag.

Shortly after the 2-hour mark of today's 2-hour, 45-minute race around the scenic 2.3-mile, 17-turn road circuit, Taylor's SunTrust Racing co-driver Max Angelelli was moving past Ryan Dalziel in the No. 8 Starworks Motorsport BMW Riley for third place entering the sweeping, left-hand turn five. Dalziel made contact with the right-rear of the SunTrust Racing Ford and spun Angelelli around. Dalziel continued, but the contact damaged the rear suspension of the SunTrust Racing machine, bringing Angelelli to the pits for initial repairs that dropped him eight laps off the pace before he resumed in 12th place.

After resuming, Angelelli reported that the car was still acting in a peculiar way, prompting the team to direct him to the garage, where the SunTrust car was retired. It finished 28 laps behind the race-winning No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates BMW Riley of Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas, which scored its second-consecutive victory and opened a huge lead in the championship standings.

"Obviously, the SunTrust car was very good today," said Angelelli, who with Taylor came to Birmingham having scored back-to-back sixth-place finishes to open the season. "I just feel so bad for the team. There's not much else to say when you have a car this good and you can't take advantage of it. It's just like at Daytona, the same situation. It's bad. I made my pass on the (No.) 8 and I believe he wanted to make a crossover move and, for whatever reason, he hit me in the rear and spun me around. The move I made on the (No.) 8 was safe. I made my pass. The pass was made. The rest, I just don't understand."

The 12th-place finish dropped the SunTrust team from fifth to seventh in the championship, a whopping 33 points behind the No. 01 Ganassi team but only 12 points behind the second-place No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Ford Riley team of Oswaldo Negri and John Pew, which finished in the runner-up position today, 6.87 seconds behind Pruett and Rojas.

At the outset, Taylor, starting from the pole for the first time in his 23-race Rolex Series career, got a tremendous start, opening a 3.5-second lead by the end of the second green-flag lap. He stayed well out in front of the field over the first 13 laps before the day's first caution flag flew just less than 20 minutes into the race. He gave up the lead when he pitted for tires and fuel on lap 16 and resumed in seventh place behind three cars that did not pit and three that took on fuel only. He worked his way up to second behind Rojas in the No. 01 car by lap 47, and held that spot until he pitted for tires, fuel and the driver change to Angelelli on lap 62, shortly after the 1-hour, 45-minute mark. Angelelli had the SunTrust car back in the top-five just four laps later.

"I've never been racing with those guys before up at the front, and now, I can see why they're racing up there in the front every weekend," said Taylor, who became the second-youngest pole-winner in Rolex Series history when he shattered the Barber track record in qualifying on Friday. "They're really good and I learned a lot from all of them. I'm talking about the (Nos.) 01, the 90, the 60, the 6, the 99. All those guys running up there are really good guys. There was a lot of good, hard fighting and it was a lot of fun. I might have gotten a little impatient, at times, and made some moves that ended up costing me a position or two. But I really learned a lot.

"As for the incident late in the race, that's racing, I guess. In racing, you leave upset 90 percent of the time and 10 percent of the time you're really happy. It looked like a racing incident. Max was just making a move on Dalziel. I don't know if Dalziel didn't see him or didn't anticipate correctly on the switchback move but, for us it turned into a missed opportunity to make up points on the (Nos.) 99 and the 01, and we just couldn't take advantage of how good the SunTrust car was this weekend. I'm looking forward to VIR (Virginia International Raceway in Alton). I think the car should translate well for the rest of the season."

Behind the race-winning No. 01 BMW and the No. 60 Ford was the No. 8 of Dalziel and his co-driver, Mike Forest, on the final podium spot. The defending series-champion No. 99 Gainsco/Bob Stallings Racing Chevrolet Riley of Jon Fogarty and Alex Gurney lost its motor at the 30-minute mark and retired in 13th place.

As was the case at the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona, where Angelelli qualified the SunTrust car on the pole and clocked the fastest lap of the race only to see it all go for naught with problems that prompted numerous trips to the garage, the polesitting SunTrust Racing machine was fastest again today. Shortly after taking over for Taylor on the lap-62 pit stop, Angelelli clocked the fastest lap of the race (1 minute, 20.483 seconds at 102.878 mph). The previous fast lap to the point was turned by Taylor on the fifth tour of the circuit.

"You can't win championships when you don't finish races, and I don't really know or understand what happened, yet," said team owner Wayne Taylor, who won this race with Angelelli in the SunTrust Racing machine en route to the 2005 Rolex Series championship. "Whatever it was, it broke the rear suspension and made it a terribly disappointing day. It was a great weekend for Ricky, qualifying on the pole, leading the way he did at the start, commanding the race. All of that was great. I'm just disappointed. It's so odd, this business, and to leave a race this way -- we got the pole, we had the fastest lap, but right now, the only thing that counts is where you finish. Thank goodness we've got a race in two week's time."

The next race on the Rolex Series slate is the Bosch Engineering 250 at Virginia International Raceway in Alton on Saturday, April 24.

-source: str

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Series Grand-Am
Drivers Alex Gurney , Ryan Dalziel , Jon Fogarty , Scott Pruett , Wayne Taylor , Max Angelelli , Memo Rojas , Oswaldo Negri Jr. , Chip Ganassi , John Pew , Bob Stallings , Michael Shank , Felix Sabates , Ricky Taylor , Mike Forest
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing , Wayne Taylor Racing , Michael Shank Racing