SUNTRUST NOT ON FIRE Having averaged a 10th-place finish and previously stepping upon the podium only once this season, a Rolex Sports Car Series podium finish has otherwise proved elusive for the SunTrust No. 10 Pontiac-Dallara Daytona...
SUNTRUST NOT ON FIRE
Having averaged a 10th-place finish and previously stepping upon the podium only once this season, a Rolex Sports Car Series podium finish has otherwise proved elusive for the SunTrust No. 10 Pontiac-Dallara Daytona Prototype in 2008 - especially when considering that SunTrust has either won or been in the thick of a DP championship fight since joining the series in 2004.
So, then, what was the key difference in SunTrust turning around its season Saturday by scoring the race pole, recording the fastest lap, racking up the greater number of lead laps and all but totally dominating on the way to winning the Armed Forces 250 race at Infineon Raceway?
"Basically, we haven't burned any trucks to the ground lately," team owner Wayne Taylor chuckled Sunday just before watching Penske Racing driver Ryan Briscoe, whom Taylor manages, in the IndyCar Series race at Infineon.
"No, really, it was a combination of a lot of little things," Taylor quickly added.
You mean like not having to cobble together heavily damaged, burned-up cars or switch from one chassis (Dallara) to another (Riley) and back again (Dallara)?
"Something like that, yes."
Should one also add the unwanted but nevertheless inevitable psychological element that adversity will interject, rarely occurring at a time when one's on fire (metaphorically speaking, that is)?
"It's been a difficult season and, yes, we even started doubting ourselves," Taylor said.
One need not be a doubter any longer as the formerly wandering SunTrust team - lost in a desert of almost unrelenting woe - has retaken its evidently once-misplaced path.
"Needless to say, everybody was ecstatic at the end of the Armed Forces 250," Taylor recounted.
"There was no doubt that the Dallara (chassis) and Pontiac (engine) is an excellent combination. However, between restrictive testing policies and all the other stuff going on, we weren't able to develop the car as quickly as we would've liked. But the Dallara has now validated our belief in it."
"But, most particularly, these last two weeks we rallied around the guys and stepped up our shock program, which I had concluded wasn't all that it needed to be."
In accomplishment of that end, Taylor brought in two-time Toyota Atlantic crew-chief-of-the-year and former Finlay Racing DP technical director Rick Cameron through the end of the 2008 season.
"With these cars you've got to really work on balancing the front with the rear," Taylor said. "That means working not only with its aerodynamic aspects but the mechanical grip as well. That's where a good shock program helps."
"Most of all, you've got to have faith in your drivers, your team and yourself that it'll all work out."
Whether racer or plumber, one aspect seems to always emerge in winners: an ability to keep on keeping on; even when altogether quitting might be the easiest option.
DC Williams, exclusively for Motorsport.com