Watkins Glen II: SunTrust Racing preview

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (Aug. 3, 2010) -- Swim, bike, run: the three events that make up the modern-day triathlon. Watkins Glen, Montreal, Salt Lake City: the final three stops on the 2010 GRAND-Am Rolex Sports Car Series calendar. Max Angelelli, Ricky...

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (Aug. 3, 2010) -- Swim, bike, run: the three events that make up the modern-day triathlon. Watkins Glen, Montreal, Salt Lake City: the final three stops on the 2010 GRAND-Am Rolex Sports Car Series calendar. Max Angelelli, Ricky Taylor, Travis Jacobson: the SunTrust Racing threesome that prepped for the season's final three races at Sunday's Tri Indy triathlon in downtown Indianapolis.

With Saturday night's Rolex Series Crown Royal 200 at The Glen on tap for Angelelli and Taylor, co-drivers of the No. 10 SunTrust Ford Dallara of Wayne Taylor Racing, and Jacobson, the team's technical director, the week started with a true test of physical endurance, mental toughness, encouragement, and a little trash talking.

Sunday marked the first-ever triathlon for Taylor, who celebrated his 21st birthday two days later, and there were brief bouts of nervous anticipation in the weeks leading up to it. Nonetheless, he made his way through the Tri Indy sprint distance event involving a 500-meter swim, 20-kilometer bike ride and five-kilometer run with the kind of efficiency and determination that already has made him a race-winning and two-time pole-winning driver behind the wheel of the SunTrust Racing machine in just his first season with the team. Taylor finished the sprint distance in one hour, 13 minutes, placing him 77th out of more than 500 competitors.

Meanwhile Jacobson, who has run numerous triathlons and competed in Tri Indy's Olympic distance event that involved a 1,500-meter swim, 40-kilometer bike ride, and 10-kilometer run, put in a solid effort of his own.

And where was Angelelli during all of this? He was snapping photos, encouraging Taylor from the sidelines, and trading jibes with his technical director while vowing to beat Jacobson in next year's Olympic distance event. Angelelli, forever the fierce competitor but also self-acknowledged class clown in the SunTrust camp, claims his teammates purposely told him too late about this year's triathlon so he would not have sufficient time to train for it and beat them.

Saturday night, however, Angelelli expects to be right in the thick of battle during the Rolex Series' annual two-hour sprint race around Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International's 2.45-mile, 11-turn NASCAR road circuit. He and Taylor are coming off a splendid runner-up finish at New Jersey Motorsports Park in Millville two weekends ago, their fourth podium of the season. Saturday, they hope to put a dent in the hefty 27-point lead in the championship enjoyed by the No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates BMW Riley of Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas over the second-place SunTrust team.

This year's Crown Royal 200 at The Glen moves for the first time from its traditional Friday-night slot to Saturday, immediately following the NASCAR Nationwide Series Zippo 200 at The Glen. Practice for the Crown Royal 200 begins Friday morning with qualifying set for 5:40 p.m. EDT. Race time Saturday is 6 p.m., with live television coverage on SPEED, as well as live radio coverage on the Motor Racing Network (MRN) and Sirius NASCAR Radio Channel 128 beginning at 5:45 p.m. Live timing and scoring during all on-track sessions can be found at www.grand-am.com.

Max Angelelli, co-driver of the No. 10 SunTrust Racing Ford Dallara:

You're down to the final three-race stretch of the season a solid second in the championship, and you're coming off a strong runner-up finish at Watkins Glen in June's six-hour race. How do you feel about heading back there?

"I always look forward to going back to Watkins Glen. It is definitely one of my favorite places to race. The championship is not looking possible for us and a lot of people in the series. It's pretty much down to one team, actually. But, it looks like there is a fight for second place in the championship and I expect it will be pretty intense. The best part of it is that these last three tracks we will be going to, starting with this weekend, are very favorable for us. What I like the best about the next three tracks is that they are all very favorable for overtaking, which makes your life as a driver much more exciting. The final outcome of the race won't necessarily be dictated by where you qualify or what kinds of things happen in the beginning of the race."

For the first time ever, the sprint race at The Glen will be run on Saturday instead of Friday. What do you think about the change in race nights?

"I think it's going to be a little like what they've done at Daytona by moving our race in July from Thursday night to Saturday before the NASCAR (Sprint Cup) race. There will be an exciting NASCAR (Nationwide Series) race on Saturday afternoon, which means there will already be a lot of fans in the stands all having a good time and enjoying themselves. I want to tell all of those fans to stay in their seats after the NASCAR race because they will see a spectacular GRAND-AM race. It always is that way on the short track at Watkins Glen. I'm really looking forward to that."

You travelled back to the U.S. a week early and got to take part in a little extracurricular activity with your teammates before heading over to The Glen. Did you have fun at the triathlon in Indianapolis on Sunday?

"It was a lot of fun. I am very proud of the guys. It was Ricky's first triathlon and he was very worried about the swim, in particular. But he did a great job. I only wish I could have done it with them, but I think, on purpose, they didn't tell me until too late that they were going to do it, probably because they were afraid they would have lost to me. I wouldn't have had the proper time to train this year. But next year, I will find out the date and I will be there to do it with them and I will show them how it is supposed to be done. I spent my entire youth in a swimming pool, racing every weekend for 10 years, so I feel like I have a lot to show them. All I have to say to them right now is, just wait till next year."

Ricky Taylor, co-driver of the No. 10 SunTrust Racing Ford Dallara:

Your overall thoughts heading into Watkins Glen, particularly coming off of your runner-up finish in the June six-hour race, and your solid race there with Beyer Racing last August?

"Based on my experience with the SunTrust team this year, I think the car should be well-suited to the short track at The Glen this weekend. It's been really efficient, aero-wise, and the key to this race is trimming things out as much as possible but still allow us to get through the high-speed corners as quickly as possible. It's really a fast track, the fastest we go to, for sure, average speed-wise. It's a good 8 mph faster than Daytona, and about 13 mph faster than the long course at The Glen. The percentage of straightaway to corners has us trim the car out a lot more and, because it's a sprint race, we need to make sure we can pass people and hold them off. It makes it a little more difficult to drive, but I think our car is pretty efficient and we should be okay. Last year, we had probably the best car we had all year with the Beyer team. We led the most laps, thanks in large part to pit strategy, but even regardless of the pit strategy, we had a pretty good pace. It was cool to be able to stay out in front for that many laps (22). We finally had to pit toward the end and that was it. But it was still a great experience."

How was your first triathlon experience on Sunday in Indianapolis?

"I didn't know how it was going to work, putting all three things together. I'm used to running and, for the longest time, that's all I ever did for my cardio. And I took up biking as part of my training not too long ago. It was the swim that had me all nervous, but it turned out to be not a huge problem. Travis (Jacobson, technical director) and Adam (Banet, data acquisition engineer) talked me into doing the sprint distance this year because they do triathlons all the time. Adam ended up not being able to go to the triathlon at the last minute. When we got there Sunday morning, it felt a little intimidating because there were so many people, and so many nice bikes and other equipment. It was definitely hard to get through, but it also turned out to be a lot of fun. Next year, we'll hopefully all do the Olympic distance -- Max included. He was a big help this year, but he also did a lot of trash talking."

Wayne Taylor, owner of the No. 10 SunTrust Racing Ford Dallara team:

With five podiums, including a pair of victories, in your previous seven sprint races at Watkins Glen, are you feeling pretty confident about the SunTrust team's chances this weekend?

"Like I always say when we go back to The Glen, it's been our best racetrack. Although it's the short track this weekend, we've had quite a lot of success there, overall. We had a good car again on the big track in the six-hour race in June, but I'm not exactly sure how good the car will be this weekend until we get out there. It hasn't been quite the fastest the last couple of years in the sprint race, which doesn't make complete sense. But Travis (Jacobson, technical director), Simon (Hodgson, team manager) and the guys have done such a good job this year in preparing the car, I'm certain they'll get everything 100-percent right. We need to have three more very strong finishes to finish the season. The championship is pretty much a foregone conclusion, but we have a nine-point lead over third place and we have to keep finishing ahead of those guys to clinch second place. That has become our goal."

You and the team had a little bit of fun up in the Indianapolis area last weekend, with Ricky, Travis and Max at the triathlon Sunday in Indianapolis, and you, Max, Ricky and your younger son Jordan at Putnam Park on Monday. How was it?

"Yeah, we gave ourselves a bit of a treat on Monday at Putnam Park (Road Course in Plainfield, Ind.). We were intending to run our old Cadillac LMP02 that we ran at Le Mans back in 2002. We restored the car completely, and it's the first time we were going to run it since then, but it didn't quite work out. But while we were there, we also made good on a promise we made to Jordan a couple of years ago to give him some miles in our SunTrust Dallara. We did the same thing for Ricky at Putnam Park a couple of years ago so we could evaluate where he was, and we told Jordan we would do the same for him when we could. It was a good day."

-source: suntrust racing

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Series GRANDAM
Teams Wayne Taylor Racing