SunTrust Team Suffers Set Back with Fire During Qualifying at Mid-Ohio Lexington, Ohio (August 26, 2005) -- The No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley team of Wayne Taylor and Max Angelelli have come to Mid-Ohio hoping to continue a streak of victories...
SunTrust Team Suffers Set Back with Fire During Qualifying at Mid-Ohio
Lexington, Ohio (August 26, 2005) -- The No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley team of Wayne Taylor and Max Angelelli have come to Mid-Ohio hoping to continue a streak of victories in the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series. As the 2005 Daytona Prototype championship leader for the entire season, "Lady Luck" has smiled sweetly upon the popular SunTrust team. Today she closed her eyes to the team and bad luck fell upon them.
SunTrust Pontiac Riley car owner/driver had just started his third flying lap during qualifying for the EMCO Gears Road Racing Classic at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course this afternoon when the car became engulfed in flames. Qualifying was black-flagged as the flames were eventually extinguished and the car was brought back to the garage for damage assessment.
"I think it may have started as an electrical fire because I started smelling something in the cockpit," said Taylor, who managed to exit the cockpit unharmed. "I looked down in the passenger side and it seemed to be okay but when I came out of turn two and I started accelerating down...I think I was in fourth or fifth gear...it was getting very, very hot. I looked down and it was just completely black. I couldn't see anything. All I did was I tried to drive off the road and look for where the fire marshals were and once I got off the track, I battled to get the door open. By the time I got the door open, my radio got jammed inside. Then it was ablaze. The fire marshals were there but the fire extinguishers didn't last. There was just not enough to put the car out.
"The only thing I could think about was the car and the bloody championship," added Taylor. "It was a wake-up call, you know. You never think about these kinds of things. If anybody can get it back together, these guys can. One consolation is that the race isn't until 5:30 tomorrow night. So, I think we'll be okay for the race."
"We're just going to take it apart and see what we can see," said Bill Riley. "There's something clear on the top part of the engine. I think it was fuel. We'll take it apart little by little. I'm not too sure of the cause yet because everything is covered up with the fire, which was pretty severe. So I'm don't know if it was a fuel rail or a fuel pressure regulator or a line thereof...something in that vicinity. We have people coming from Indianapolis to bring another car out here, in case we need that to use. We're going fix it no matter what."
After four victories in nine races (the Rolex 24 At Daytona, the Miami Grand Prix, the Porsche 250 at Barber and the Watkins Glen 200 sprit race), the SunTrust race team has been a very consistent finisher. The team added two seconds, a fourth and two sixth place finishes to be at the top of the points chart with 282 points, 21 points ahead of the second-place challengers.
There were two practice sessions at Mid-Ohio earlier in the day. Max "The Ax" Angelelli topped the charts in the first session with a time of 1:20.287 at 101.247 mph, the fastest of the day. Taylor had the sixth-fastest time in the second session with a 1:21.609 at 99.607 mph.
Alex Gurney collected his second pole of the season this afternoon with a time of 1:20.395 at 101.111 in the No. 99 Gainsco Pontiac Riley. It was only the second time the son of legendary racer, Dan Gurney, has qualified in his five race starts.
The Saturday night EMCO Gear Road Racing race, August 27, begins at 5:30 p.m. ET and will be tape delayed until Sunday, August 28th at 12:00 noon ET on Speed Channel.