SunTrust Racing's Max Angelelli waited until the final lap of Saturday's 15-minute Rolex Sports Car Series qualifying session to record a lap fast enough to put his Pontiac Riley on the pole for the Sahlen's Six Hours of the Glen at Watkins Glen...
SunTrust Racing's Max Angelelli waited until the final lap of Saturday's 15-minute Rolex Sports Car Series qualifying session to record a lap fast enough to put his Pontiac Riley on the pole for the Sahlen's Six Hours of the Glen at Watkins Glen International.
This sort of patience and restraint is unusual for Angelelli, whose aggressive driving style has earned him the moniker "Max the Axe." But in this case his patience paid off, allowing the Italian to lap the 3.4-mile, 11-turn natural terrain road course in 1:45.687, 0.272 seconds faster than Scott Pruett in the No. 01 Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley.
"I was just trying to be careful in the beginning on the new tires," Angelelli explained after his first pole of the season. "We were suffering a little bit with the new tires and I did a few laps to get the tires a little more used [because] the car is performing really well on used tires. We have been working through the weekend to get a good car for the race and this means using the car with used tires. This is why I got pole position on the last lap.
With two wins, one second, one fourth, and one sixth in five races, Angelelli and his co-driver, Wayne Taylor, currently have a five-point lead over Pruett and Luis Diaz in the Daytona Prototype drivers' championship. Pruett and Diaz have two wins and three poles.
"We gave it all we had," said Pruett. "We really focused on our race setup. We put a set a sticker [tires] on right at the end of the morning warm-up and we weren't real happy with the setup. We changed a few things [afterward], and just didn't change enough. I think we [have] a great racecar. The qualifying car wasn't exactly where we wanted it to be, but on old tires the car is very fast and we'll see what happens tomorrow."
What happens in tomorrow's race may in fact depend on the weather, which has been unseasonably hot and humid for the last few days. More heat and humidity is forecast for the race, along with the possibility of some showers and scattered thunderstorms. "We are just a little concerned about the heat in the car," said Angelelli. "But the race will be really tough for everybody, not only for us."
"The weather is a bit dodgy and it's going to be hot," added Pruett. "We're concerned about the same thing Max is. These cars get hot inside. We're probably going to look at changing drivers every hour or so. You need to stay sharp. It's going to be a hard pace. You look at how close everybody is. We're going to be running these things really hard. It's going to be a battle all six hours and you're going to have to keep your sharpest guys in the car."
Michael McDowell's Finlay Motorsports BMW Riley qualified third, followed by Stefan Johansson in the second Ganassi Racing entry and Mike Borkowski in the Michael Shank Racing Pontiac Riley.
In GT, Randy Pobst appeared to have captured his first pole of the season in the No. 36 TPC Racing Porsche, recording a lap of 1:57.255, .007 seconds faster than Andy Lally's No. 65 TRG Porsche. But the ride height of Pobst's car was found to be too low by officials during post-qualifying inspection. As a result, Lally was awarded the class pole, his first of the season.
"I feel sorry, honestly, for Randy, because I love doing battle with him every time we get a chance," said Lally. "We've had such good battles in the past. The neat thing is this is two poles in a row for Team TRG. We got it at Mont Tremblant and now here for the Six Hours of the Glen."
David Murry will start second in the No. 80 Synergy Racing Porsche, followed by Bill Auberlen in the fastest of the four PTG BMW M3s. GT qualifying was cut short after Ryan Dalziel, the fastest driver in this morning's practice session, spun off the track in his SAMAX Porsche, mangling the front end.
Sunday's Sahlen's Six Hours of the Glen will begin at 10 a.m. ET and be broadcast on the SPEED Channel.
More than 1.2 million unique viewers watched the last round of the Rolex Sports Car Series at Mont-Tremblant, a 78 percent increase over last year's ratings for the same race. The average rating was a .32. "We're going in the right direction," said Grand American Road Racing Association President Roger Edmondson. "More fans than ever before tuned in to see some great Rolex Sports Car Series racing from one of North America's most beautiful facilities and I want to thank our teams and drivers for putting on a great show and our colleagues at SPEED for delivering such a great product to our fans."
After five races, 27 different drivers have held the overall lead for at least one lap. There have been 69 lead changes, 44 of which came in the season-opening Rolex 24 at Daytona. Angelelli has led the most laps (261 of a possible 1,190).
Since the Rolex 24 at Daytona, the margin of victory in a Rolex Sports Car Series race has not exceeded 3.843 seconds.
Next year's Rolex 24 at Daytona will be held on January 26-29, 2006, a week earlier than usual and the weekend between the NFL's conference championship games and the Super Bowl. "The Rolex 24 at Daytona is the premier sports car race in America and annually kicks off the international motorsports calendar as well as Speedweeks," said Daytona International Speedway President Robin Braig. "Changing the date will allow the sports world to focus on America's only 24-hour sports car race."