Daytona24: SunTrust Racing Thursday qualifying report

SunTrust Racing: On the Pole - Rolex 24 Qualifying Report Picking up right where it left off after last summer's win in the Brumos Porsche 250, and having clocked the fastest lap in the three-day Roar Before the Rolex 24 test earlier this...

SunTrust Racing: On the Pole - Rolex 24 Qualifying Report

Picking up right where it left off after last summer's win in the Brumos Porsche 250, and having clocked the fastest lap in the three-day Roar Before the Rolex 24 test earlier this month, the No. 10 SunTrust Ford Dallara of Wayne Taylor Racing is at the front of the pack once again after Max Angelelli qualified the SunTrust Racing machine on the pole Thursday for this weekend's Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona.

Angelelli, who won this event in 2005 co-driving with team owner Wayne Taylor en route to that season's Rolex Series championship, toured the 3.56-mile, 14-turn superspeedway road circuit with a fast lap of 1 minute, 40.681 seconds (127.293 mph) to earn the team's first pole since August 2008 at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. Angelelli's lap today was more than three-tenths faster than fellow front-row qualifier Oswaldo Negro, who turned a 1:41.100 (126.766 mph) in the No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Ford Riley.

"I was pretty confident because our SunTrust Ford Dallara has been so good here," said Angelelli, who's joined for this weekend's twice-around-the-clock marathon by newly named fulltime co-driver Ricky Taylor, as well as Wayne Taylor and Portuguese former Formula 1 competitor Pedro Lamy. "We have a good car, it's been fast here, and we won the race in July. So now it's up to us as drivers to make it happen in the race. We are at Daytona, where our Dallara has always been good, like last year if you remember at the 24-hour, and in the middle of the season when we won. So, this track suits our car. At the same time, we have finished all of our developmental stages with the Dallara in the last year, so now we can concentrate on setting up the car for the racetrack. Last year, every race was something new to test, so there was no time to set up the car for the race. We finally got the package right and we can finally concentrate on setting up the car for the racetrack. After everything we went through last year, and losing out on the championship at the last race, this is great. It's good for morale, and good for everybody.

"We wanted this pole. Of course, in racing, you have to make things happen, and we worked hard for this pole, preparing ourselves and the car. There is an advantage starting up front, no matter how long the race is. It was important for all of us. For me, I can't deny it. It's important, the Daytona 24-hour, with all the cars, all of whom are racing at a very high level. It's very competitive, and that makes it that much better for everybody, for SunTrust, for Dallara, for Ford, for everybody."

Angelelli's previous best qualifying effort for the Rolex 24 came in 2007 and 2005, when he was second. Today's pole was the 11th for SunTrust Racing since it joined the Rolex Series in 2004.

"Well, I'm ecstatic with the result," said Wayne Taylor, who in addition to 2005 won this race in 1996. "Max was incredible. Travis (Jacobson, technical director), Simon (Hodgson, general manager), everybody on this team, they made a really good car. We have great engines from Roush Yates. Dallara has been working tirelessly to give us what we need. Even though in the big picture of things it only counts where we are on Sunday at 3:30, to start the weekend on the pole puts everybody in such a better frame of mind. Now, we know we have a fast car. Now, we can concentrate on how we can make it easy for everybody to drive and how we can take care of everything and make it last.

"It's the biggest race of the year, it's the first big race anywhere in the world this year, so to be on the pole is important. And for me, it's for SunTrust. They have backed me from the beginning. We have gone through tough times and a lot of good times. Everybody in this organization is motivated to promote their brand, as well as that of Toshiba, Dallara, Roush Yates Ford engines, Pirelli tires. Now, we look forward to the race, where anything can happen. I said to someone the other day that I don't believe I've ever come to a 24-hour race more prepared than this one. That said, I also know that the slightest thing can go wrong -- a 30-cent wire can break -- so you need a lot of luck, too. But starting on the pole certainly sets the tone, and I like it."

-source: suntrust racing

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Series GRANDAM