Sears Point: SunTrust Racing preview

SunTrust RACING To Infineon and Beyond ATLANTA (Aug. 21, 2006) - Second in 2004. First in 2005. That's the way the No. 10 SunTrust Racing Team has finished in the championship point standings since it began competing in the Daytona Prototype...

SunTrust RACING To Infineon and Beyond

ATLANTA (Aug. 21, 2006) - Second in 2004. First in 2005. That's the way the No. 10 SunTrust Racing Team has finished in the championship point standings since it began competing in the Daytona Prototype division of the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series. And with two races remaining in the 2006 season, the SunTrust Racing Team is challenging for a second straight title.

The defending series champions have come from 29th in points following the season-opening 24 Hours at Daytona (Fla.) to climb to second in the championship standings, just three points arrears the series-leading No. 76 Krohn Racing Team with two races remaining.

The penultimate race on the Grand Am schedule is this weekend's Sonoma 250 at the 2.52-mile Infineon Raceway road course in Sonoma, Calif. It's the series' first visit to Infineon, but for the driver lineup of SunTrust Racing, it's a familiar venue.

Max Angelelli and Jan Magnussen will pilot the No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley at Infineon, and both have logged numerous laps on the race track formerly known as Sears Point Raceway. Angelelli raced for Cadillac in the American Le Mans Series while Magnussen drove a Panoz Prototype for four years, winning in Sonoma in 2002.

The duo will look to overtake the No. 76 Krohn Racing Team, while also making sure the No. 01 Ganassi Racing Team - just three points behind the SunTrust squad in third - stays there.

In addition to the team championship, there's also a driver championship on the line. Angelelli trails point leader Jorg Bergmeister by 29 markers, but lurking just three points behind Angelelli in third are Luis Diaz and Scott Pruett, winners of the series' most recent race at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International.

After 100 laps around the twists and turns of Infineon Raceway, Angelelli and the SunTrust Racing Team will have just one more race to achieve their championship goals - the season finale Sept. 2 at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah.

Quotes from Wayne Taylor, driver/owner of the No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley:

While Grand Am will make its first visit to Sonoma, Max Angelelli, Jan Magnussen and you have competed at Infineon Raceway on separate occasions. What are your thoughts on the race track?

"It's a great track. A great road course. We enjoy it. Both Max and Jan have raced there many times. I've raced there. We've all had a lot of success there. It's another important race for us. It's the second to last race of the season, so it's a crucial event."

You were able to make up 10 points on the championship-leading No. 76 Krohn Racing Team Aug. 11 at Watkins Glen to narrow their advantage to just three points over the SunTrust Racing Team. How important was that race?

"It was terribly important. We've had our share of bad luck this year, and we've really had to work to make up ground in the points. The 76 team has been really good all year, and up until Watkins Glen, it seemed like they ran pretty trouble-free. Watkins Glen didn't go well for them and it went pretty well for us. That's not exactly the way you want to make up points, but we'll take them any way we can get them. But that was just one race. We still have two races to go and we've got to keep the pressure on."

Quotes from Bill Riley, team director and race strategist for the No. 10 SunTrust Racing Team:

Now that there's only a three-point deficit between the SunTrust Racing Team and the No. 76 Krohn Racing Team, how will the team balance being aggressive with being conservative?

"We'll end up watching our competition a lot more closely and see how they're doing in the race, and then we'll kind of balance it out that way. They're going to do the same thing as us, so everybody's kind of watching each other. That will dictate our driving style for how aggressive we are."

Sonoma is a new venue for Grand Am. Because it's a track that isn't as familiar to the team as Watkins Glen, does that make it a slightly more difficult race to call? Or is calling a race the same, regardless of the venue?

"It's going to be a better venue for us to race at. We typically can adapt to different conditions faster than other teams, so I think we're going to be looking pretty good going into new venues."

The pairing of Max Angelelli and Jan Magnussen has produced a win, four top-fives and five top-10s in the five races they've driven together this year. How do their driving styles complement one another?

"I think they're very, very similar. The lap times they do in the race are very similar. With Max and Jan, you really couldn't ask for two stronger guns."

Quotes from Max Angelelli, co-driver of the No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley:

The Sonoma 250 marks the first time Grand Am has raced at Infineon Raceway. But you've driven there before, correct?

"I've been there since 1999 with the American Le Mans Series. I've been there racing Cadillacs - the LMP and the CTS-V - as well with the World Challenge Tour."

Is Infineon a difficult track to get around?

"In terms of the track, it is definitely a track with a lot of elevation changes. To me, it is unique, even if you compare it to Road Atlanta, which is another track with elevation changes, but it's not that severe. Sonoma is really severe. It makes the driver work very hard to try to control the car, so it's very difficult to drive."

Now that the point gap between the SunTrust Racing Team and the No. 76 Krohn Racing Team is only three points, does your approach to the race change? Can you be as aggressive as you want?

"I need always to look for a balance, otherwise I would have tried to overtake (Scott) Pruett at the last race at The Glen. Luckily, we still have a chance to win the championship. I need to take risks, but not make mistakes. I still need to finish the race as high as possible."

Quotes from Jan Magnussen, co-driver of the No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley at Infineon:

The Sonoma 250 marks the first time Grand Am has raced at Infineon Raceway. But you've driven there before, correct?

"The last time I drove there was in 2003 in a GT-1 Ferrari 550 and I think we got third. Before that, I drove a Panoz for four years. The last time I drove the Panoz there I won (2002)."

What is it about Sonoma that suits your driving style?

"It's a track with a lot of elevation and also a lot of corners. I enjoy driving a track like that. It's so far away from the typical European tracks. There aren't very many run-off areas there, so it's pretty exciting."

Now that the point gap between the SunTrust Racing Team and the No. 76 Krohn Racing Team is only three points, does your approach to the race change? Can you be as aggressive as you want?

"From my point of view, I don't have a championship to race for, but my job at the Sonoma race will be to make sure that we come away with Max and the team in the lead."

-credit: www.SunTrustRacing.com

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Jan Magnussen , Scott Pruett , Wayne Taylor , Jörg Bergmeister , Max Angelelli
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing , Krohn Racing