Daytona II: SunTrust Racing race report

Solid Truly Is Lightning Fast for SunTrust Team Angelelli Holds Off Gurney in Dramatic Fashion To Win Brumos Porsche 250, Moving SunTrust Back To Within One Point of Rolex Series Championship Lead A bold, new silver paint scheme with the words...

Solid Truly Is Lightning Fast for SunTrust Team
Angelelli Holds Off Gurney in Dramatic Fashion To Win Brumos Porsche 250, Moving SunTrust Back To Within One Point of Rolex Series Championship Lead

A bold, new silver paint scheme with the words "Solid Is Lightning Fast" emblazoned on the sidepods of the No. 10 SunTrust Ford Dallara of Wayne Taylor Racing proved to be prophetic as SunTrust's Max Angelelli held off Alex Gurney in a dramatic, nose-to-tail battle over the final 10 laps of the Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway road circuit and scored the team's first victory of the season at Saturday's Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Brumos Porsche 250.

Angelelli christened the new, four-race promotion showcasing SunTrust's line of convenience products -- most notably its mobile and online money management tools -- with his and SunTrust's 13th career victory in 73 race starts since joining the Rolex Series in 2004. It was also the third career victory for Angelelli's co-driver, Brian Frisselle, who scored his first two on back-to-back weekends last August while driving for the No. 61 AIM Autosport Ford Riley team. Most importantly, the win pulled the SunTrust team back to within a point of the championship-leading No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Lexus Riley of co-drivers Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas with five races to go.

After the heartbreak of losing the race lead and potential race win thanks to an ill-timed yellow flag two weekends ago at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Angelelli, Frisselle and the SunTrust team actually were the beneficiaries of a yellow flag this afternoon that put them in the lead, and it was Angelelli's late-race heroics that kept it there for good.

The 25-year-old Frisselle, who put the SunTrust car fourth on the starting grid with a stellar effort in qualifying this morning, stayed near the front for the duration of his opening race stint behind the wheel this afternoon. He was in third place behind the No. 99 Gainsco/Bob Stallings Racing Pontiac Riley of Gurney and Jon Fogarty, and the No. 45 Orbit Racing BMW Riley of Ryan Dalziel and Bill Lester, when he pitted on lap 35 of today's 70-lap race for tires and fuel and to hand the car over to Angelelli for a final run to the finish. Angelelli and the SunTrust crew had just completed their stop, with the Nos. 99 and 45 cars still out on track, when the yellow came out for an accident on the frontstretch involving the No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Porsche Coyote of Antonio Garcia and Buddy Rice.

While the rest of the leaders completed their final pit stops during that caution period, Angelelli emerged in first place and stayed there for the final 33 laps. He did so despite almost unbearable conditions (92-degree ambient temperatures with a heat index of 104, and inside-the-cockpit temperatures that held steady at 122 degrees), and the relentless pursuit of Gurney in the Gainsco Pontiac over the final 10 laps. On two occasions -- laps 67 and 69 -- Gurney managed to find an inside hole to slip past Angelelli while transitioning from the infield road circuit toward the high-banked NASCAR turn one. But, on both occasions, Angelelli and the SunTrust car's low-downforce setup on this day enabled him to get back in front before reaching the left-right-left combination near the end of the NASCAR backstretch known as the "Bus Stop."

"It was really difficult," said Angelelli, who won this race co-driving with team owner Wayne Taylor back in 2004, when it was known as the Paul Revere 250, and who also won the 2005 Rolex 24 At Daytona with Taylor and Emmanuel Collard en route to that season's Rolex Series championship. "What I was faced with toward the end of the race was that, the way our car was set up with really low downforce, it actually gave me the advantage quite a bit. And for me to take advantage of that in the straight, all I had to do was keep (Gurney) behind me in the infield to be safe. Unfortunately, with traffic, I was really struggling. With traffic, he was really able to tuck in behind me, and a couple of times even got ahead of me. We had the car (set up) with very little downforce. Actually, we were too good because I was struggling in the infield. But in the end, that's what saved me because I could keep the (No.) 99 behind me and then stay ahead of him or get back ahead of him on the banking. If he would have been leading the race, I would have had no chance."

Angelelli also made a point of acknowledging the SunTrust Racing crew, which put the team in the lead.

"We won, really, because of great pit work, and we got out of the pit leading the race, and that turned out to be really important today," he said.

"It feels great, and I really have to thank the whole SunTrust team because it was a real team effort," said Frisselle. "This crew is really what put us out front. Even though we didn't have the fastest car out there today -- I think that would probably be the (No.) 99 car -- the crew is what put us up front in the lead and Max did a great job of keeping us up there."

With the win, the SunTrust team now has 198 championship points through the season's first seven of 12 events. The No. 01 Ganassi Lexus Riley team leads with 199, while today's runner-up finishing No. 99 Gainsco/Bob Stallings Racing Pontiac Riley team is third in the points with 196. The No. 01 team, which started on the pole and led the first 11 laps of the race and 18 laps in all, battled back from a blown right-front tire on lap 32 that dropped it to the rear of the Daytona Prototype field to finish seventh.

"Well, we finally we got our first win this year," said Taylor, whose team last tasted victory last August at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. "I can't say enough about everybody from SunTrust and the support we've had since what happened to us last year (a devastating transporter fire early in the season). And then, this year, the competition is so close. Coming into this race, we were third in the championship and, after winning this race, we're within one point of the lead in the championship. Winning the race, the team was awesome. The drivers, Brian and Max, did an outstanding job. I can't imagine a better way to win a race than the way we did today. Daytona, for me, is my home event, as I've always said. It's only 35-40 minutes from my home (in Apopka, Fla.). Thanks to SunTrust, we'll just keep on pushing. As we saw today, 'Solid Is Lightning Fast.' I've got to say the silver car brought us some good luck today."

After taking next weekend off, the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series returns to the track for the Porsche 250 on July 19 at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala. SPEED-TV will provide live coverage of Round 8 of the 2009 campaign beginning at 3 p.m. EDT.

-credit: str

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Alex Gurney , Ryan Dalziel , Antonio Garcia , Jon Fogarty , Scott Pruett , Emmanuel Collard , Wayne Taylor , Max Angelelli , Memo Rojas , Bill Lester , Buddy Rice , Brian Frisselle , Bob Stallings , Felix Sabates
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing , Wayne Taylor Racing