Laguna Seca (May 6, 2006) -- It was a case of follow-the-leader today at the qualifying race at the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca circuit for Round Six of 14 races in the 2006 Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series. This afternoon's qualifying race...
Laguna Seca (May 6, 2006) -- It was a case of follow-the-leader today at the qualifying race at the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca circuit for Round Six of 14 races in the 2006 Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series. This afternoon's qualifying race was the second of five during this season in a new format designed to reward additional points. Max "The Ax" Angelelli, who was the qualifying driver in the No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley, started from the fifth position and finished in the same spot, as did the Top Five competitors in the 30-minute formatted qualifying event.
Series points leaders, the No. 23 Ruby Tuesday Porsche Crawford of qualifying driver Patrick Long, who teams with Mike Rockenfeller, led wire-to-wire in the Daytona Prototype-only race. Today's qualifying race sets the grid for tomorrow's Road & Track 250 race with equal points being awarded for finishing positions in both the qualifying race and race event. Angelelli and Danish hotshoe Jan Magnussen will start from the inside on the third row in the fifth spot in their No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley Mk.XI.
"We need some GT cars to make the race exciting," said Angelelli, who shows his Italian passion regularly on the race track. "There is nothing to do basically with just the DP cars, no strategy. Without the GT cars on the race track and pit stops, you cannot really do anything to pass."
"The qualifying race today shows just how competitive it is in Grand American with the Top Five cars remaining in the same position," said Bill Riley, owner of Riley Technologies who spearheads the racing effort of the No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley. "We had a good car today. We just didn't have enough time with a 30-minute race to have any pit strategy and help him get up to where he needs to be. Jan will start first tomorrow and should be able to give Max the car in a good position in the race."
b^0x001cI think Max and the team did a good job with fifth place," said SunTrust car owner/driver Wayne Taylor, who is sitting out from driving this weekend and invited Jan Magnussen to co-drive with Angelelli. "Nobody really passed anybody in the qualifying race. Everybody did roughly the same lap times. We qualified fifth and finished fifth. I believe we'll have a better package in the race trim tomorrow. With Jan starting and Max finishing, I think we can be back on the podium tomorrow. We need to win."
The SunTrust team collected their first podium finish of the season two weeks ago at Virginia International Raceway in a nail-biting last lap run that saw the No. 23 Porsche edge past Angelelli in the final turns for the win. The SunTrust team is hungry for a victory this season after winning the 2005 Daytona Prototype Driver and Team Championship with five victories in 14 races and no finishes outside the Top Ten.
Today's morning practice set the starting order of the qualifying race with Max "The Ax" Angelelli starting from the fifth position. He posted a fastest lap of 1:24.140 at an average speed of 95.755 miles per hour. The team currently sits tenth in the 2006 Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series Championship.
Sunday's 250-mile/112-laps/two and three-quarter hour Road & Track 250 race will be aired live on Speed Channel at 3:00 p.m. ET. Following tomorrow's race, the SunTrust team drives to Mesa, Arizona for prep work at the GM Proving Grounds before next weekend's Gainsco Grand Prix at Phoenix International Raceway, May 13th.