Laguna Seca: SunTrust Racing race report

SunTrust on a Roll, Scores Second Straight Podium Angelelli, Frisselle Find No. 10 SunTrust Racing Ford Dallara to Their Liking, Score Third-Place Finish at Laguna Seca To Move to Third in the Championship The SunTrust Racing duo of Max ...

SunTrust on a Roll, Scores Second Straight Podium

Angelelli, Frisselle Find No. 10 SunTrust Racing Ford Dallara to Their Liking, Score Third-Place Finish at Laguna Seca To Move to Third in the Championship

The SunTrust Racing duo of Max Angelelli and Brian Frisselle enjoyed their second consecutive podium finish with a solid, third-place run in Sunday's Verizon Festival of Speed at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca which, most importantly, moved the No. 10 SunTrust Ford Dallara team of Wayne Taylor Racing from fourth to third in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series championship.

Frisselle, who put the SunTrust car second on the starting grid after his best qualifying effort of the season on Saturday, took advantage of a strong racecar during his opening stint, put the SunTrust car in the lead for the fourth time in four races this season, and clocked several of the fastest laps of the race before handing things over to Angelelli on the 26th of 106 laps run in today's 2-hour, 45-minute race around the 2.238-mile, 11-turn circuit nestled in the hills just east of Monterey, Calif. Frisselle, who led 17 of the opening 25 laps to give the SunTrust team 87 laps led through the season's opening four events, is the only driver in the series to lead laps in each race thus far.

Angelelli took over the SunTrust Racing machine on lap 26 during a green-flag stop for tires and fuel and resumed in 10th place. He worked his way back up to second behind the eventual race-winning No. 99 Gainsco/Bob Stallings Racing Pontiac Riley of Jon Fogarty and Alex Gurney as the field was making another round of green-flag stops on lap 64. Angelelli lost a bit of time during that second fuel-and-tire stop after overshooting his pit box. But he was able to get back on track in the top-five, nonetheless, albeit close to a minute behind the lead pack.

In typical Angelelli fashion, "Max the Ax" put his head down and went to work over the final hour and 10 minutes of the race, picking off car after car until finding himself in fourth place on lap 82 with a nifty pass of Michael Valiante in the No. 6 Michael Shank Racing Ford Riley. Valiante tried to get the position back two laps later by taking advantage of slower, GT-car traffic, and made contact several times with Angelelli in the process before spinning off into the dirt. With Valiante well behind him, Angelelli continued in fourth and mounted another charge, this time to get by Burt Frisselle in the No. 61 AIM Autosport Ford Riley. On lap 100, with some nine minutes remaining, Angelelli passed Frisselle, the older brother of his SunTrust Racing teammate, for third place and the final podium spot with his sights still set on catching Scott Pruett in the No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Lexus Riley for second.

Angelelli remained in close pursuit of Pruett and was setting himself up for a last-lap pass of his longtime Rolex Series rival when, as luck would have it, the lapped car of Andy Wallace in the No. 2 Childress-Howard Motorsports Pontiac Crawford got between Angelelli and Pruett as the two were racing down the hill through the final series of turns. Angelelli crossed the finish line 1.134 seconds behind Pruett, and Pruett crossed the stripe a hefty 7.228 seconds behind Fogarty in the No. 99 car, which dominated the final stages of today's race.

"We had the best car on the track," said Angelelli, who has been a part of all 36 podium finishes SunTrust has recorded in 70 Rolex Series starts since joining the series in 2004. "I set my fastest lap when I overtook (Burt) Frisselle. It's a shame the No. 2 car got between me and Pruett on the last lap because I was sure I was going to get around him. That is what took the second-place finish away from us. This was good for the championship today, but we need to win. Third is good. Second is good. But, we definitely need to win. We're strong. We're fast. We're capable. And we're definitely going to do it, I believe."

"Overall, it was a good effort by the team," added Frisselle, who co-drove to second place with Angelelli at New Jersey Motorsports Park in Millville two weekends ago. "The SunTrust car was, arguably, the best car on the track. Both Max and I set some of the fastest laps of the race during our stints. So, it's a little disappointing when you have a car that's that good and come away with third. But, in the big picture of things, it's a good points day and we've just got to take it from here and keep on digging and working toward making the car this good at every track."

With third-place finish, the SunTrust team now has 108 championship points and is 13 behind the series-leading No. 99 team at 119. The No. 58 Brumos Porsche, which struggled for the second weekend in a row, stands second with 111 points. The No. 01 Ganassi team is fourth at 105, while the No. 12 Penske Racing Porsche Riley is fifth with 104 points.

"It was definitely another good finish," said team owner Wayne Taylor. "It's not often you go to a racetrack and have a car that's really good. When you have a car that's really good, those are the times you have to win because it doesn't happen that often. So, from that standpoint, it was a little disappointing. But the team, as usual, did an outstanding job. It's really nice to be up in the top-three in the championship, where we need to be. We're just going to have to work even harder. Those (No.) 99 guys had a great day. We got a little unlucky with the yellows. But you've got to compare where were at this time last year. We've now had a fourth, a second and a third and just one bad result (13th at VIR), and we're third in the championship. The racing is so, so competitive, that makes me happy. Now, we're going to Watkins Glen, where our car has been absolutely spectacular. I really think Brian made a huge stride forward this weekend. He did what we expected him to do when we hired him. It was just a solid weekend all around, and I believe we have some great days ahead of us."

-credit: str

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Andy Wallace , Alex Gurney , Jon Fogarty , Scott Pruett , Wayne Taylor , Michael Valiante , Max Angelelli , Burt Frisselle , Chip Ganassi , Brian Frisselle , Bob Stallings , Michael Shank
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing , Team Penske , Wayne Taylor Racing , Michael Shank Racing