CAN SUNTRUST RACING TURN POLE POSITION INTO ROLEX 24 AT DAYTONA VICTORY THIS WEEKEND? Brumos 2009 Victory only Sixth From Pole in Event's 47-Year History DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 29, 2010) - Max Angelelli looks to become the second...
CAN SUNTRUST RACING TURN POLE POSITION INTO ROLEX 24 AT DAYTONA VICTORY THIS WEEKEND?
Brumos 2009 Victory only Sixth From Pole in Event's 47-Year History
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 29, 2010) - Max Angelelli looks to become the second consecutive pole winner to win the Rolex 24 At Daytona - but only the seventh to win America's premier sports car race.
The 48th Rolex 24 takes the green flag at 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday to open up the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 season. Live SPEED coverage is set for 3 -10 p.m. ET, and resumes Sunday from 7 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Angelelli won the pole on Thursday with a lap of 1:40.681 (127.293 mph) in the No. 10 SunTrust Racing Ford Dallara he shares with car owner Wayne Taylor and his 20-year-old son, Ricky Taylor plus Pedro Lamy.
"It's always nice to get the pole, especially at the Rolex 24," said Taylor, who won the Rolex 24 in 1996 and 2005. "It's the first big race. However, you really can't use the pole as a gauge to what's going to happen. We will go into the race knowing we have a fast car, and just concentrate on doing everything right until Sunday."
Last year, Donohue became the first pole winner to win the Rolex 24 since 1993, when P.J. Jones won in a Toyota. The only other pole winners to win a 24-hour race at Daytona were Bob Wollek (1983), Brian Redman (1976), and Ken Miles (1966). Mario Andretti won from the pole in a Ferrari in 1972, a race shortened to six hours due to an international rules change.
"The pole isn't very important here," Donohue said. "It's great for the team and it's a nice feather in your cap. We won from pole last year, and we'll be winning not from pole this year. We're just going back to the old tradition."
Donohue and co-winner Darren Law move to the No. 59 Brumos Porsche Riley this year, joining five-time event winner Hurley Haywood, Butch Leitzinger and Raphael Matos.
"This is my first race in the Brumos No. 59, and that's a great honor," Donohue said. "It's also my first time co-driving with my old friend Hurley Haywood. I just hope I can drive like him when I'm his age. He just gets in the car and goes."
At the back of the Daytona Prototype grid were two contenders that did not qualify Thursday after being involved in practice incidents. The GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Chevrolet Riley had its streak of five consecutive Rolex Series poles come to an end when four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson hit a tire barrier during Thursday's practice, forcing a rebuild of the car's entire rear assembly.
"The car was good; everything is just fine," Johnson said after getting out of the car in Friday morning practice. "I'm better, but not until this race is over. I'll finally forgive myself at that point. Everything's good right now."
Jon Fogarty, who won the pole in six of the final seven events in 2009, feels missing qualifying will not hurt the team's chances.
"We haven't even started the race yet, so really, that's a non-issue at this point," Fogarty said. "In a 24-hour race, qualifying is not a big thing. Alex would have loved the opportunity to have challenged for the pole, but the team did a great job getting the No. 99 GAINSCO car back together. The Chevrolet motor bolted right up. Everything looks great on the back half of the car. It looks like everything's good."
Scott Tucker will start 14th in the No. 95 Crown Royal/NPN Racing BMW Riley, which missed qualifying after a practice incident involving Lucas Luhr.
"The pole is obviously nice to win for the Rolex 24, but it's a long race, and I don't think it is that important," said Tucker, who will also co-drive with Ryan Hunter-Reay and Richard Westbrook. "We feel that given the length of the race and the experience of our drivers, starting further back in the field is not going to be that big a hindrance for us."
Jeff Segal will start on the GT pole in the No. 69 SpeedSource/FXDD Mazda RX-8 he co-drives with Emil Assentato, Nick Longhi and Anthony Lazzaro.
Defending Rolex 24 GT winner Andy Lally, who will start fifth in the class in TRG's No. 66 AXA Porsche GT3 he co-drives with Ted Ballou, Kelly Collins, Patrick Flanagan and Wolf Henzler, feels that the pole is not that important in a 24-hour race.
"I'm optimistic that we can stay around and still be competitive with everyone Sunday morning," Lally said. "For the second year in a row, we were the fastest-qualifying Porsche. There is a lot of competition among the five TRG teams, and I'm proud of all the work my guys have done to get this car ready."
Jim Pace, who won overall with Taylor in 1996 and took his class in 1990, doesn't look at the 32nd-place qualifying position for the No. 64 JLowe Racing Porsche GT3.
"Qualifying is important if your car is fast and your sponsors want it up there," said Pace, who will co-drive with Dr. Jim Lowe, Eric Lux, Tim Sugden and James Walker. "For the rest of us, you need to have a good, solid car and be thinking of lasting 24 hours. As an independent, we're focused for the long run. We've got a steady driver lineup, we're going to run similar lap times and we've got a great crew. The Porsche is rock-solid here at Daytona, and we will be there."
Wayne Taylor is looking at the qualifying effort of his youngest son, Jordan, as a good omen. The 17-year-old University of Central Florida freshman will start on the outside of the front row on the GT grid in the No. 30 Racers Edge Motorsports Mazda RX-8 co-driven by Glenn Bocchino, Jade Buford, Todd Lamb and John Edwards.
"I also qualified second in both of the two years that I won the Rolex 24," the elder Taylor said. "It would be great to see that happen for Jordan."
Saturday's pre-race festivities include a giant autograph session for all of the drivers participating in the Rolex 24 at 12:15 p.m. ET, followed by a Fan Walk on pit road at 2:15 p.m. Vic Elford, the 1968 winner of the Rolex 24, will give the command to start the engines for the 3:30 p.m. start.