Homestead: Round two race report

Angelelli and Taylor Take Second Straight Rolex Series win in Grand Prix of Miami HOMESTEAD, Fla. (March 5, 2005) -- In the second-closest finish in Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series history, Rolex 24 At Daytona winners Wayne Taylor and Max...

Angelelli and Taylor Take Second Straight Rolex Series win in Grand Prix of Miami

HOMESTEAD, Fla. (March 5, 2005) -- In the second-closest finish in Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series history, Rolex 24 At Daytona winners Wayne Taylor and Max Angelelli picked up their second-straight Rolex Series triumph in the Grand Prix of Miami at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Driving the No. 10 SunTrust Racing Pontiac Riley, Angelelli claimed the lead from the No. 8 Rx.com/Synergy Racing BMW Doran of Burt Frisselle on Lap 43 of the 109-lap race and held off a hard-charging Butch Leitzinger in the No. 4 The Boss Snowplow Pontiac Crawford by 1.198 seconds to secure the victory. The margin of victory was second only to the 2004 VIR 400 presented by SunTrust, when Angelelli and Taylor beat eventual Daytona Prototype co-champions Scott Pruett and Max Papis to the stripe by a scant 0.87 seconds. Angelelli led a race-high 67 laps.

"I remember last year's race here very well--I ended up in the medical center (due to dehydration)," Angelelli said. "This year was difficult as well. It's good to race in Miami at this time of year. It's pretty hot later in the year. I saved a little bit in my pocket in case I had to use it, and I used it. I was pushing some at the end."

With the victory, Angelelli and Taylor also became just the second set of co-drivers to win the first two races of a season in Rolex Series history. Mauro Baldi and Didier Theys were the only other teammates to sweep the first two races of a season, which they accomplished in 2002. The triumph also enabled the SunTrust duo to extend their Daytona Prototype points lead to six points (70-64) over Leitzinger and Elliott Forbes-Robinson with two of 14-races now in the books.

"I'd like to think we came from a strong year last year," Taylor said. "In the off-season, we got a new car and really prepared it with all the right ingredients. There really is some luck involved, but I think we had all the right ingredients to make it happen. Finishing in the top five is like finishing in the top three last year."

After trailing by more than seven seconds as the race approached its conclusion, Leitzinger began chipping away at Angelelli's lead and took advantage of a full-course caution on Lap 93 to close up behind the No. 10 machine. Despite fuel-pickup problems, Leitzinger benefited from lapped traffic and crossed the start/finish line by three-tenths of a second with two laps remaining before Angelelli pulled away at the finish.

"Really, the only way I could have gotten around Max was through a really opportunistic move," Leitzinger said. "I took a gamble (as both cars approached the lapped car of Chad McQueen), but it didn't work. It was a long shot move anyway. Max was a little bit quicker than me. I missed the setup a little bit with the change of temperature. I didn't quite compensate enough when we made our race setup and that hurt us a little bit. We were very close. I'm very happy with the team today, and to continue all the momentum we've had with these podiums."

Forbes-Robinson and Leitzinger finished second for the third-consecutive time dating to a second-place showing in the Lexus Grand American 400 at California Speedway to close out the 2004 season. It was also the sixth-straight time that EFR and Leitzinger had finished inside the top-four positions and was their fifth podium in six events dating to a third-place performance in the Miami 250 last September.

"Second place here, second in the Rolex 24, and we ended off last year like that," Forbes-Robinson said. "We seem to be stuck there at second, so we've got to win one. The car was so much better. The Crawford guys have done some development and made our car better. We were a little bit off before, and we're not that way now. The Pontiac engine is better than before. We need just a little bit. We were close on our setup. I think we can win the next one out here."

In just the team's second Daytona Prototype start, the Krohn Racing/TRG team placed both its cars in the top four. Finishing third was Jorg Bergmeister and defending Daytona Prototype co-champion Max Papis in the No. 66 Pontiac Riley. It was Papis' best career Rolex Series result at Homestead-Miami Speedway and was the best showing for the Miami resident since winning his first Champ Car race on the Homestead oval in 2000.

"It was a fantastic success for us today," Papis said. "It was the first time for the Pontiac TRG car on the podium. Jorg did a fantastic job in the beginning to bring the car from 11th up to the front. We still don't know a lot about the car and we got a great result. It shows we've got a lot of determination."

Krohn Racing/TRG co-owner and driver Tracy Krohn and Nic Jonsson brought the No. 67 Pontiac Riley home in fourth place to complete a sweep of the top-four positions for Pontiac. The other defending Daytona Prototype co-champion, Scott Pruett, finished fifth alongside co-driver Luis Diaz in the No. 01 CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley.

There were four lead changes among five different cars, and the race was slowed by full-course caution five times for a total of 22 laps.

BUNTING AND LALLY BREAK THROUGH FOR GT WIN

No. 65 Auto Gallery/TRG Porsche GT3 Cup co-drivers Andy Lally and Marc Bunting--who claimed the lone Rolex Series Super Grand Sport (SGS) driver championship in 2004--returned to their winning ways in the Grand Prix of Miami. Lally claimed the class lead when Joey Hand made a pit stop in the No. 21 BMW Team PTG M3 on Lap 70 and cruised the rest of the way to the victory by one lap over the No. 36 TPC Racing Porsche GT3 Cup of Michael Levitas and Randy Pobst.

"(Team owner) Kevin (Buckler) made a great call that put us in the lead," Bunting said. "We stayed out when the 36 car pitted under caution and we ended up getting a wave-by. That got us a half-lap on the 36. That's what got it for us. Michael (Levitas) ran over and asked us if we hadn't pitted. Fortunately, we made the right call on the pit stop and got lucky. It was awesome. There's no better way to start out a season. I couldn't be happier to finish on top of the podium. Andy did a great job and Kevin made a great call to get half a lap back."

It was the second consecutive Homestead victory for the Auto Gallery/TRG team, as Buckler and co-driver Tom Nastasi took the GT class win in the Miami 250 last September. The triumph was also vindication of sorts for Bunting and Lally, as an eighth-place class showing in the 2004 Miami 250 was the only race in which they did not finish on the SGS class podium. The triumph also moved Lally and Bunting into the GT points lead.

"We took the points lead, we can't complain about that," Lally said. "It was a super race. Marc gave me a great car. We made the right calls today and the cards fell our way. We've also gotten bit on calls like that, actually."

TPC Racing placed two cars on the GT podium, as John Littlechild and Spencer Pumpelly brought the No. 37 Porsche GT3 Cup home in third place. The team, which won the SGS team title last year, has now placed at least one car on its class podium in 14 consecutive races.

David Murry and Craig Stanton finished fourth in the No. 80 Synergy Racing Porsche GT3 Cup, while Leh Keen and Cory Friedman filled out the GT top five with a fifth-place performance in the No. 14 Autometrics Motorsports Porsche GT3 Cup.

-garra-

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing , Krohn Racing