Strong Start, but Sour End in Sonoma SunTrust Racing Team Leads a Race-High 60 Laps but Finishes Fourth in Sonoma 250 Jan Magnussen and Max Angelelli drove the No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley to a solid fourth-place finish in the Daytona...
Strong Start, but Sour End in Sonoma
SunTrust Racing Team Leads a Race-High 60 Laps but Finishes Fourth in Sonoma 250
Jan Magnussen and Max Angelelli drove the No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley to a solid fourth-place finish in the Daytona Prototype division of Saturday's Sonoma 250 Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series race at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif.
Magnussen, who qualified on the pole to secure his first career Rolex Sports Car Series pole as well as the first pole this season for the SunTrust Racing Team, led the first nine laps before engaging in a spirited battle with the No. 99 Pontiac Riley of Jon Fogarty. Fogarty held the point until an incident in turn two with the No. 75 Ford Riley of Tracy Krohn sent both Fogarty and Krohn spinning.
Magnussen re-took the lead on lap 21 and opened up a sizeable advantage over the No. 4 Pontiac Crawford of Butch Leitzinger.
The two drivers ran 1-2 until both came to pit road on lap 73 for driver changes. Angelelli went in for Magnussen and Andy Wallace took over for Leitzinger.
Wallace came out ahead of Angelelli, and at the end of the 99-lap race, it would prove to be the difference between reaching the podium and finishing fourth.
In addition to the long stop, an early driver change by the No. 01 Ganassi Racing Team placed Scott Pruett in the lead. Also in the mix was Patrick Carpentier, who in his No. 11 Crawford Pontiac was third, thanks to an early driver change.
With less than 25 laps to go, it was Pruett, Wallace, Carpentier and Angelelli with a determined Adrian Fernandez in his No. 12 Pontiac Riley tight on Angelelli's bumper.
With Angelelli's sights set on getting past Carpentier, Fernandez snuck to the inside of Angelelli in turn 11 on lap 80. Now fifth, Angelelli dug deep to make up ground on the leaders.
When Carpentier had to stop for a splash of fuel on lap 89, Angelelli inherited fourth. Unfortunately, Pruett, Wallace and Fernandez each pulled out substantial margins that Angelelli could not overcome when the checkered flag waved on lap 99.
"This track is quite difficult to overtake (cars)," said Angelelli. "I thought I had a clear shot, but I lost the race behind the number 11. It was really hard to overtake that guy. He held me back."
After leading twice for a race-high 60 laps, the fourth-place outcome was not indicative of the SunTrust Racing Team's performance in Sonoma.
"We had a good car all the way through," said Magnussen. "It was better than what it looked. I should have been able to pull away more than I did, but every time I got a little bit of a gap I got caught in traffic. I'm happy, but we deserve better than this, that's for sure."
Owner/driver Wayne Taylor, who replaced himself with Magnussen for the Sonoma 250, agreed.
"Jan did an outstanding job at the beginning. We really looked like we were dominating," said Taylor. "One thing about these races, it's the last five laps that count. You know, we got beat on the pit stop. That put us behind the 4 car and we never really recovered. It's all about track position here. Hats off to the 01 car."
The win by the No. 01 tandem of Luis Diaz and Pruett, along with another solid finish by the SunTrust Racing Team, tightened the point standings considerably. But this was also due to another off-race for the No. 76 Krohn Racing Team.
After a ninth-place finish Aug. 11 at Watkins Glen (N.Y.), the No. 76 Pontiac Riley piloted by Jorg Bergmeister and Nic Jonsson finished ninth at Sonoma. The team entered Sonoma with the point lead, but left in third, seven points behind the new series leaders - the No. 01 Chip Ganassi Team.
The No. 10 SunTrust Racing Team held steady in second, and now trails the No. 01 team by four points with a three-point cushion over the No. 76 team.
Krohn Racing's Bergmeister continues to lead the driver standings by a hefty margin, despite back-to-back poor showings. The German driver leaves Sonoma with a 19-point advantage over Pruett, who usurped Angelelli for second in the driver standings. But even with Angelelli's drop to third, he actually gained on Bergmeister, cutting six points off his lead to trail by 23 points with just one race remaining.
The Daytona Prototypes of the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series will compete for the final time this season in the championship-deciding race Sept. 2 at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah. The Discount Tire Sunchaser, a nine-hour event on the 4.5-mile road course, begins at 2 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by Speed.