Wayne Taylor - Ford interview 2009-09-02

This Week in Ford Racing September 2, 2009 Last weekend SunTrust Racing scored their second win of the season in the Grand-Am Rolex Series in Montreal. Only five points out of first place, team owner Wayne Taylor talked about what the win means...

This Week in Ford Racing
September 2, 2009

Last weekend SunTrust Racing scored their second win of the season in the Grand-Am Rolex Series in Montreal. Only five points out of first place, team owner Wayne Taylor talked about what the win means for the SunTrust team and their championship aspirations with only two races left in the season.

CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR WIN IN MONTREAL. CAN YOU TALK A LITTLE ABOUT YOUR WIN? "Everybody's worked really hard for this and while we didn't have the fastest car in Montreal, we really worked on strategy, and obviously the strategy paid out really well and we got our second win. I want to extend special thanks to John Maddox, Roush Yates Engines and Ford Racing for continuing the development on the engine program. It certainly confirms that we've made the right choice of going with Ford power this year. Montreal was a really difficult race because of the conditions. Both Max [Angelelli] and Brian [Frisselle] did an outstanding job. Going into Montreal with three races remaining we were at a 14-point deficit, which is pretty tall given that there's only three races left and the fact that the No. 99 has always been strong. I also thought that with the extra Porsche power that had been given to them that maybe that could help us in a way, and it did. The Penske car (Porsche powered) finished second ahead of the 99 so we gained a lot of points. We've been really unlucky this year with three finishes outside the top 10, which has never happened to us in the last six years. Now we're tied with Ganassi and are only five points out from the top ranked No. 99 car. We must really focus for the next two races. We went into Montreal with less pressure than the 99 because we had to go for the outright win and take whatever risks we needed to because of the points. We took the risk, but it paid off. So now we're raring to go. We're looking forward to the next race at Miller Motorsport Park. I'm going to be testing the SunTrust Ford with my son Ricky, who finished fourth this weekend at Indianapolis, on Thursday."

WAS YOUR STRATEGIC DECISION BASED ON WHAT YOU SAW ON THE WEATHER RADAR OR WHAT YOU SAW ON TRACK? "Max was begging to come in and change to slick tires, but I kept watching the lap times of other cars and even on our rain tires we were still the fastest car. We had the radar to look at but it was very spotty. It didn't look like there was massive raining coming, but I felt that if we could continue to do the laps times he was doing, nobody was going to catch him. We wanted to leave him out as long as we possibly could because he was pulling away, and if we did have to make a tire change we would have enough space to change if we needed. In fact, the guys had the tires on the walls ready to change and we eventually said no, just stay there and then the rain came back again. It worked out really well."

IF YOU WERE ONLY FIVE POINTS OUT OF THE CHAMPIONSHIP BEFORE THAT RACE WOULD YOU HAVE BEEN MORE CONSERVATIVE AN PITTED FOR TIRES? "I'm not sure. I'm really not sure. I just knew that we had to risk it in the position that we were in this weekend. Maybe I would have done the same. I'm not 100 percent sure. I would have to ask Travis [Jacobson] and Simon [Hodgson] and Brian [Pillar], who do a lot of the strategy up on that tower. There are four of us who are up on that tower. The most important thing is that we made the right decision with this race."

YOU'RE BACK IN THE TITLE RUN. YOU HAVE TALKED ABOUT HOW HARD THE TEAM HAD BEEN WORKING. DOES THIS WIN GIVE A MUCH NEEDED BOOST FOR THE TEAM? "It really does, because if you look back at the season, our first year with Ford engine power, I think we have led every single race. Not led it because of pit strategy, but led it because we were the fastest car, and the best team, and we had the fastest drivers. However, we have been plagued with so much bad luck. They say that you make your own luck, which I agree to, but we had some really unfortunate incidents. The accident at VIR was totally out of our hands. The situation in Mid-Ohio when we were leading when the yellow flag came out, that was really ridiculous. Then we got hit by a DP car out at Watkins Glen and we finished 13th. We never had such bad results in a year, but on the other side are all the other results, we've been upfront and we've had two wins and so we're right there in the title hunt again."

EVEN WITH THE PROBLEMS THAT HAVE PLAGUED THE TEAM YOU ARE IN A POSITION TO WIN THE TEAM, DRIVER AND MANUFACTURERS CHAMPIONSHIP. NOT TO BAD FOR AYEAR WITH THREE RESULTS OUTSIDE THE TOP 10. "For me, I don't really get excited until it's all over because so many things can happen. It is a great position, it's a relief more than anything else that I can concentrate on the things that we need to do to make this better for the next two races. We all feel really well. This team of mine, we're racing against people like Chip Ganassi, Rodger Penske, Michael Shank, big names in racing that have been around forever and ever. This is only our third year as our own team. I think as I've always said, its always about the people. Without the leadership from our general manager and our technical leader, none of this would have happened."

YOUR DRIVER COMBO IS IN ITS FIRST YEAR TOGETHER. YOUR DRIVERS MAX ANGELELLI AND BRIAN FRISSELLE HAVE WON TWO OF THE LAST FOUR RACES AND WILL BE A STRENGTH HEADING DOWN THE STRETCH. "Max has been with me since 1999. We were teammates when we won in 2005 together then I took on a newer role by being a team owner and spending most of my time on the management side of things. We looked very hard last year for a teammate for Max. We looked at a lot of data and we wanted someone younger who would be able to work with Max, but also someone with experience who understood races. Brian Frisselle fit that description really well, and he's done a great job. His job was to be Max's teammate, and his job was to qualify well and give Max the car in good condition and that it would be up to Max to do the finish. He's done a great job. I can never say enough about Max because we've been together so long we know how each other breathe. When he's in the car I know exactly what's going on in his head and vice-versa. It's been a great relationship and great partnership."

HAVING BEEN BOTH A DRIVER AND NOW A TEAM OWNER, WHAT ROLE DO YOU PREFER? "I've seen a lot of drivers end their careers and become team owners and I've always wondered are they really any help to the team. When I started Wayne Taylor Racing in 2007 for the first time I went to the track I thought, what the heck am I doing here? Normally I was driving and getting all of our technical feedback and stuff, so I spent most of my time in the organization and leading of the program. More importantly I started working with our commercial partners like SunTrust, Toshiba and Miracle Sealants and developing relationships and building their businesses. Having been racing for 35 years and having won the Rolex 24 hours twice and the Sebring 12 hours, Le Mans in the Ferrari, and Petite LeMans in 1998 and four championships as a driver, I never thought the day would come where I would prefer to be on the other side of the pit wall. I can tell you that I'm really enjoying it, maybe even more than I was at the end of my driving career. Although, I'm still going to do the 24 Hours at Daytona and I'll continue to test the car, I really like the position that I'm in, especially when I have the partners that I have. Again I can't say enough about the Ford Power and Roush-Yates engines and specifically John Maddox for pushing so hard for us."

-credit: ford racing

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Wayne Taylor , Chip Ganassi , Brian Frisselle , Michael Shank
Teams Wayne Taylor Racing