SunTrust Team Focused on Elusive First Victory in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – Italian lesson for today: “Così vicino, eppure così lontano!” Translation: “So close, yet so far!”
When it comes to the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen, those words would sum up the road racing life of veteran Italian Max Angelelli, as well as that of SunTrust Racing team owner and three-time sports car racing champion Wayne Taylor. For, while they have been literal fixtures on the podium at America’s traditional midsummer endurance race during their illustrious careers, they still have yet to taste victory during the month of June at the legendary Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International road circuit.
Angelelli and Taylor know all about winning major endurance events. Together, they dominated the Rolex 24 at Daytona in 2005 en route to winning that year’s Rolex Series championship for SunTrust. Taylor has also been victorious at the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans in France, the 12 Hours of Sebring (Fla.), the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta, and also has multiple IMSA World Sports Car championships.
The lone void on Taylor’s resume, and a race Angelelli would like to win more than any other at this point in his career, would be the Sahlen’s Six-Hour – the latest edition of which takes place Saturday at Watkins Glen. It’s not that they haven’t come close to winning it, especially since they and sponsor SunTrust first joined the Rolex Series in 2004. In the previous seven Sahlen’s Six-Hour events, the SunTrust team has finished on the podium six times, including each of the past five. SunTrust’s average finishing position the past seven Junes at Watkins Glen has been an incredible 3.0.
Angelelli and his 21-year-old co-driver Ricky Taylor brought SunTrust its second consecutive Sahlen’s Six-Hour runner-up finish last June. This weekend, buoyed by a resounding victory just five days prior in the Memorial Day Classic at Lime Rock Park for the second consecutive year, Angelelli and the younger Taylor look to finally go one better at The Glen behind the wheel of the No. 10 SunTrust Chevrolet Dallara of Wayne Taylor Racing. If it happens, watch for one, proud team owner and father seated atop the pit box.
Max Angelelli, Co-Driver of the No. 10 SunTrust Racing Chevrolet Dallara:
You finally ended a year-long victory drought at Lime Rock on Monday. With that, what are your overall thoughts about heading to Watkins Glen for Saturday’s annual Sahlen’s Six-Hour event, where you have had tremendous success over the years?
“At the Six-Hour, it seems like we always finish in the top-three. That can be good, but it can be bad at the same time. It’s good because we’re always challenging for the win. It’s bad because we’ve never actually won the Six-Hour. But I still feel very strongly about it this year, probably more than ever. We have a good car with Team Chevy, SunTrust Racing with Toshiba. It’s definitely a car that can win the Six-Hour, like it has been every year we have been going there. We only need to stay clean, and I’m sure we’ll get our second win of the week if all of that happens. It feels like we are on a roll.”
Would you consider Watkins Glen your favorite track, considering how well you drive there and the results you have to show for it, despite the fact you have yet to win the Six-Hour event?
“I would say that I like Watkins Glen a lot. It fits my driving style and everything. We always have had a good car, so we will have a good baseline going back there. But, this year, we made so many changes in the car during the offseason that every race starts like a clean sheet of paper. We did not keep anything from last year, so the car is completely different every time we go to another track. So, that’s going to be the same at The Glen. We are going to The Glen with a completely different car than we’ve had there in the past. I believe in our guys, though, and I believe we are going to be good because we have had a good car at every racetrack we have gone to so far this year. This is why I am confident. Brian (Pillar, engineer) and Adam (Banet, engineer) are just doing such a magical job. It allows me to sleep well without a worry and a concern.”
You led multiple times late in the Sahlen’s Six-Hour last year but just couldn’t keep Scott Pruett and the Ganassi car behind you. Was that disconcerting, and are you afraid the same thing might happen again this year?
“Last year, I had a very, very good car. Pruett had a really good engine. He had a good engine and he overtook me because of that. It was definitely not because of the car or the set-up. This year, it looks like it could be a completely different story. I am hoping for that and I am confident about that because our SunTrust Racing guys have been doing a tremendous job at every race so far this year.”
I love the track, I love the Six-Hour.
Ricky Taylor, Co-Driver of the No. 10 SunTrust Racing Chevrolet Dallara:
Do you feel you can continue the momentum from Monday’s win at Lime Rock and translate that into a win at Watkins Glen?
“The Six-Hour means a lot to our family and Max, as well, as one of the big races neither my dad nor Max has won. As far as our chances this year, I think we’ve been so strong at so many races, already, and there were a couple of times where we could have won races but we were just a little bit unlucky. Monday at Lime Rock, we really showed what we can do if there’s no bad luck and the car was good, and I think it was just proof of what we can do, really. I think we can really carry that through to Watkins Glen.”
What is it going to take to finally win the team’s first Sahlen’s Six-Hour after so many podium finishes over the years?
“After you do a perfect race like we did at Lime Rock on Monday, we proved to ourselves that we can do it, now. The Six-Hour, strategy-wise, isn’t any more difficult than it is at Lime Rock. It’s so easy to go a lap down at Lime Rock, I’d say it’s as difficult, if not more difficult, than Watkins Glen. At the Six-Hour, you’re pretty much cruising and trying to stay out of trouble for the first four hours before you really go racing. I love the track. I don’t quite have it completely figured out, yet, but the big thing for me is that our car really suits that track.”
Wayne Taylor, Team Owner of the No. 10 SunTrust Racing Chevrolet Dallara:
Coming off your second win in as many years at Lime Rock, you’re heading to the Six-Hour race at The Glen, a race you’ve had tremendous success at but just haven’t won. You had a great car last year and led multiple times late in the race but were passed by the Ganassi car and had to settle for second place for the second year in a row. What are your thoughts this year?
“I don’t want to say too much about that place because, the year Max and I won the championship, we went there three times and won two of the three. The one race we didn’t win was the Six-Hour. It is the only big race on my resume that I just so wanted to win so badly because I love the track, I love the Six-Hour. Now, I want Max and Ricky to win, and I think it’s going to be exciting. Last year, obviously, there was nothing we could do with that (Ganassi) car. It just drove by us and everybody else in a straight line. This year, it seems the parity is a lot better. I wouldn’t say it’s 100 percent, yet. But, obviously we can race them and, obviously, we beat them Monday at Lime Rock. That’s what we’re banking on as we head back to Watkins Glen this weekend.
Do you feel the monkey is off your back after finally running what was essentially a perfect race at Lime Rock on Monday?
“I think the biggest thing that’s happened to us has been that, all throughout the season so far, we’ve had a fast car. Daytona was clearly out of our control with (Juan Pablo) Montoya taking Ricky out. But, we also made mistakes of our own in Alabama and VIR. And, really, when we came out of VIR, Simon (Hodgson, team manager) and myself and Brian (Pillar, engineer) and everybody else sat down and took some time to think about what we’re doing wrong. What resulted is that Simon has taken everybody and has focused everybody so much on the fact of the game, which is, we’re in business to win races. That’s all it is. Without winning, we don’t have anything. We have such great partnerships with SunTrust, Toshiba, Dallara and Chevrolet, who have stuck with us for so long. We have to do this. This is what we do. This is why they pay to be here. We’ve sort of taken control of things. Disappointing for me was that, coming into the season, it was all about winning the championship. Clearly, after VIR, I was pretty depressed because it already looked out of reach. So, what we did was refocus, just trying to go out and win every race. And the guys went and did it the very next chance we had at Lime Rock. And we just have to keep doing that again, and again, and again. Everything else is really out of our control.”