The No. 10 SunTrust Chevrolet Dallara of Wayne Taylor Racing will start Saturday’s GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series Bosch Engineering 250 from the inside of the second row after qualifying Friday afternoon at Virginia International Raceway (VIR) in Alton.
Ricky Taylor, co-driver of the SunTrust Racing machine with veteran Italian Max Angelelli for the second full season, turned a fast lap of 1 minute, 45.348 seconds (111.743 mph) around the 3.27-mile, 17-turn natural road circuit situated right at the Virginia-North Carolina state line. It placed Taylor third on the starting grid among 27 car-and-driver combinations entered for Saturday’s 2-hour, 45-minute race.
“I think our time was good and I think we’ve improved during the practice sessions,” said the 21-year-old Taylor, who scored his first career Rolex Series podium in this race a year ago. “Right now, we have the best car we’ve had all weekend and we’ll try to keep improving it for the race. But, who knows, if it’s raining, it all goes out the window. If you look at the positive, it’s a good place to start the race – on the inside. If it’s dry, we’ll be okay. I think we have a car capable of winning. We’ve still got a little work to do. If it’s wet, we know all the changes we’re going to make and kind of go with it.”
Saturday’s forecast calls for a 40-percent chance of scattered thunderstorms during the late-afternoon race. Today’s forecast called for a 50-percent chance of precipitation, but it remained dry throughout despite oftentimes threatening skies.
Paul Edwards, driving the No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Chevrolet Coyote, earned his first career Rolex Series Daytona Prototype-class pole after scoring six poles as a GT-class competitor the past six seasons. Edwards turned a fast lap of 1:44.984 (112.131 mph) to earn the Spirit of Daytona team’s second consecutive pole. Edwards’ teammate Antonio Garcia won the pole in the No. 90 Chevrolet for the last Rolex Series race at Barber Motorsports Park outside Birmingham, Ala.
Jon Fogarty, in the No. 99 Gainsco/Bob Stallings Racing Chevrolet Riley, earned the outside-front-row starting spot with a lap of 1:45.138 (111.967 mph). With Taylor’s third-place effort, Chevrolet-powered entries are 1-2-3 on the grid.
... who knows, if it’s raining, it all goes out the window.
Memo Rojas, in the No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates BMW Riley, actually turned the fastest lap of the 15-minute qualifying session. But the defending series co-champion and defending race-winner subsequently ventured off course and brought out a black flag that ended the session early. Thus, his fast lap was disallowed, per GRAND-AM rules, and his next-best lap dropped him to sixth on the starting grid. Rojas and co-driver Scott Pruett, who have won six races in a row and 12 of the last 15 Rolex Series events, are the objects of a $25,000 bounty offered by Rolex Series officials to the first team that can beat the No. 01 BMW.
“I’m happy with third after seeing Ricky qualify fifth here last year,” said team owner Wayne Taylor, who co-drove the SunTrust car to victory with Angelelli in the 2004 Rolex Series race at VIR, then scored his first win as a team owner here in 2007. “We’ll see how things go in the race. This has typically not been one of our best tracks with the Dallara. For some reason, we’ve struggled. There will be different strategies playing out as the teams with the pro-am drivers and ‘Young Guns’ have the benefit of extra sets of tires, which obviously makes a huge difference for them. We won’t see the full benefit of that until they put the pros into those cars. So, this qualifying effort is not necessarily an accurate gauge as to what will happen in the race. I can say I’m also happy to see Chevrolet is 1-2-3 on the grid. That is great. When you get down to it, all we really want to do is race our racecars. But it’s all likely to come down to strategy and making sure we have the tires we need to get us to the end of the race, and hoping we’re in a good position when all is said and done.”