By Pat Jennings, Sportscar series reporter
- SunTrust's 2nd 2011 win from the pole
- Wayne Taylor's first win in Glen 6 hours
- Brumos takes first 2011 GT victory
Fresh off a victory earlier in the week at Lime Rock, SunTrust Racing dominated Saturday’s Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series race at Watkins Glen International’s 30th running of the Six Hours of The Glen. Yesterday, the team qualified on the pole in the hands of Ricky Taylor, and today Taylor set the fastest lap and, along with Max Angelelli, led128 of the race’s 174 laps. A caution flag with fifteen minutes remaining erased the healthy lead Taylor had built over Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Pruett which could have added some drama to the end of the race. But on the restart, Taylor – separated from Pruett by three GT cars – drove away from Pruett to take the win by just under four seconds.
You saw what Ricky did today, but he does it every race.
“The car was really, really fast,” said Taylor, who was fast in the rainy conditions that prevailed at the beginning of the race and in the dry at the end. “When that last caution came out I was pretty nervous in (the car). Whenever you have Scott Pruett behind, you know it’s not going to be easy. But the team did a good job of helping me to the finish.”
It was the second win from the pole for the SunTrust squad this year and the first for car owner Wayne Taylor in the six-hour race at the Glen. “This race is incredibly difficult to win,” said an emotional Wayne Taylor. “Even when you have a car and its seems to have more pace than everyone else and you pull out these big gaps, you just don’t know what can happen in the last hour with strategy and so on But the guys did a perfect job.
“It’s difficult to put into words what it means. This was the one event that I never won while I was in my driving days. It couldn’t be any better having Ricky and Max do it.
“The team has worked so hard this year. We came out at the beginning of the season and we had a really good car for the first couple of races, but we never seemed to be able to get into the winner’s circle. It took a lot of refocusing by everybody. I think we turned it around at Lime Rock.”
Grand-Am officials admitted after the race that the three GT cars should not have been allowed to lineup between Taylor and Pruett on the final restart, but Pruett said those cars did not affect the outcome of the race because the SunTrust car was so fast.
“We couldn’t pace them,” explained Pruett. “We were trying all kinds of things. We were changing wickers – changing the car up and trying to get more speed out of it as the race unfolded. But it just wouldn’t stick. We just had to look at the back of the (SunTrust) car today. The (SunTrust) car had us paced today. We ran where we should have.”
Pruett and his teammate, Memo Rojas, now hold a 19-point lead over Taylor and Angelelli in the Daytona Prototype drivers’ standings with six races remaining in the season. “This is the best car I have ever driven,” said Angelelli, adding “You saw what Ricky did today, but he does it every race.”
Gainsco Racing’s Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty rounded out the top-three, finishing just over eight seconds behind the winners and claiming their first podium in three races. They led 10 laps during the race, but could not match the pace of the SunTrust and Ganassi cars. “It feels good to be up on the podium,” stated Fogarty. “It’s been quite a while.”
Fourth place went to the Michael Shank Ford Riley shared by Oswaldo Negri, Jr. and John Pew. The final car on the lead lap, the first of the two Action Express Porsche Rileys, finished fifth in the hands of Darren Law, David Donohue, and Burt Frisselle.
In the GT class, the Brumos Porsche of Leh Keen and Andrew Davis prevailed for the first time this season – thanks in part to some crafty fuel strategy that allowed Davis to stop for a splash of fuel under the race’s final caution and still retain the class lead. Bill Lester and Jordan Taylor finished second in the class pole sitting No. 88 Autohaus Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro GT.R, followed by the No. 69 SpeedSource Mazda RX-8 shared by Emil Assentato, Jeff Segal, and Guy Cosmo.
“With the rain at the start, it was just survival out there in my first stint,” explained Keen. “From there, everything just fell into place and went according to plan for what we were doing. The hardest part of the race was the last 30 minutes when we were just so close on fuel – just wanting a yellow. We got the yellow at the end, but even that wasn’t enough and we were going to run out. But we just were fortunate in the way the 88 and 69 (cars) were caught up behind the leading (Daytona Prototype) car.”
The GT class point leaders, Bill Auberlen and Paul Dalla Lana, ended up 11th in class after Dalla Lana beached the Turner Motorsport BMW M3 in a gravel trap with less than 15 minutes remaining, bringing out the race’s fifth and final caution.
Jordan Taylor and Lester now hold a three-point lead over Keen and Davis and a four-point lead over Auberlen and Dalla Lana in the GT class drivers’ standings.
The next Rolex Series race is June 25 at Road America.