Seventh Consecutive Podium for SunTrust
After Taylor Leads Early, Angelelli Brings Home Second-Place Finish at Montreal
A victory just wasn’t in the cards for the No. 10 SunTrust Chevrolet Dallara of Wayne Taylor Racing in Saturday’s GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series Montreal 200, but the stellar driving duo of Max Angelelli and Ricky Taylor will gladly take a second-place finish to a fellow Chevrolet team and their seventh consecutive podium finish as they move on to the next one.
The 22-year-old Taylor, who started somewhere other than the pole for the first time in seven races, wasted no time jumping into the lead for the 16th race in a row from his outside-front-row starting spot, and he stayed in front for the first 24 laps of today’s 73-lap, two-hour timed event around the 2.709-mile, 15-turn Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.
However, it was the polesitting No. 99 Gainsco/Bob Stallings Racing Chevrolet Riley of Jon Fogarty and Alex Gurney that proved to be the faster machine over a crucial mid-race exchange of pit stops that got the “Red Dragon” in front. And in the end, with Angelelli rapidly closing the gap on the front-running Gurney in the closing laps, a late-race caution just nine laps from the finish pretty much thwarted any possibility of SunTrust’s third Montreal victory since 2007 and fourth in the last seven races this season.
“I’m quite happy with our second-place finish but I’m a little bit disappointed about the yellow flag at the end,” said Angelelli, the Italian veteran who co-drove the SunTrust Racing machine to victories here at the home of the Formula 1 Canadian Grand Prix in 2007 with Jan Magnussen and in 2009 with Brian Frisselle. “I just felt the SunTrust car was getting better and better. The car balance was really difficult in the first half of my stint and this is where the 99 was pulling away. But the second half was pretty good. I was just hoping for a green-flag race and, unfortunately, the yellow flag came and I lost a lot of time in turns two and three at the restart and that’s what basically killed me.”
After seeing his attempt at a Rolex Series record-tying seventh consecutive pole position foiled by Fogarty in the No. 99 Chevy on Friday – by a whopping .7 of a second, no less – an undaunted Taylor smoothly and meticulously took matters into his own hands at the very start of today’s race in putting the SunTrust car in the lead by the time the field cleared the left-right combination of turns one and two. Taylor had a solid opening stint in keeping the SunTrust car in front the entire way as Fogarty was able to stay close behind while the pair opened a healthy gap on the rest of the field.
The SunTrust crew called Taylor into the pits for the day’s first fuel-and-tire stop under green on lap 25, 40 minutes into the race, and Taylor gave the car over to Angelelli. Fogarty assumed the lead and was able to turn a pair of stellar laps before making the Gainsco team’s first pit stop on lap 27. It was those two laps by Fogarty that proved to be the difference in the race as Fogarty was then able to pit, hand his car over to Gurney, and the No. 99 car was able to get back on track ahead of Angelelli in the SunTrust car.
Gurney kept the Gainsco Chevy in the lead for 43 of the final 45 laps, giving it up temporarily only during the final round of fuel-and-tire stops, and he weathered the lap-68 restart on his way to taking the checkered flag 1.932 seconds ahead of Angelelli. It was the Gainsco team’s first victory at Montreal and second of the season.
“It was a good day,” Taylor said. “Coming into it, with that big of a qualifying gap, I expected Jon (Fogarty) to just drive away. So I just planned an aggressive start, trying to get up there in the lead. During the stint, I got lucky with traffic quite a bit. I was just trying to do my own thing up there at the front and hand the car over to Max. The car was good and the team made no mistakes in the pits, so it was a good result.”
The runner-up finish, coupled with the fifth-place finish by the championship-leading No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates duo of Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas, moved the second-place SunTrust team to within 20 points in the standings with one race to go.
“We just didn’t have what the 99 had, but we still ran a good race,” said team owner Wayne Taylor. “The result is the result, but the result was good. We had a second-place car and that’s all there is to it. Ricky did a great job on the opening lap, getting us ahead of Fogarty. Unfortunately, they were just faster on their out laps after their pit stops. I think that’s what made the difference. So, we’ll go on to Mid-Ohio to wrap up the season. The championship is not mathematically possible, so we’ll just go there trying to see if we can win another pole and another race. What happened today is definitely good for Chevrolet in the manufacturer championship. They’re up by two points over BMW, so I’m very happy about that.”