Ill-Timed Yellow Snatches Away SunTrust Victory Bid Angelelli, Frisselle Lead Laps for the Sixth of Six Races This Season; But it All Goes for Naught in Eighth-Place Finish at Mid-Ohio On a day when the driving duo of Max Angelelli and Brian...
Ill-Timed Yellow Snatches Away SunTrust Victory Bid
Angelelli, Frisselle Lead Laps for the Sixth of Six Races This Season; But it All Goes for Naught in Eighth-Place Finish at Mid-Ohio
On a day when the driving duo of Max Angelelli and Brian Frisselle appeared to have put their No. 10 SunTrust Ford Dallara of Wayne Taylor Racing in position to score their first Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series victory of the year, an ill-timed yellow made all the difference in the world between first place and eighth, where the SunTrust car crossed the finish line at the conclusion of today's EMCO Gears Classic at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio.
Still, the SunTrust team proved to have the dominant car through the middle portion of today's 2-hour, 45-minute affair that covered 111 laps around the 2.258-mile, 13-turn road circuit. Frisselle drove a marvelous opening stint from the fourth starting position, turned the car over to Angelelli in second place, and the Italian worked his way into the race lead for 27 laps as he was nearing his final fuel-and-tire stop of the day. It was the sixth time in six races this season the SunTrust team has led laps.
But, with Angelelli in the lead on lap 64 by a huge margin over the rest of the field, a full-course caution came out for a stalled car on track just as he passed the entrance to pit road. The rest of the frontrunners -- albeit far behind him on track, were able to dive into the pits on that very lap and execute their final fuel-and-tire stops while Angelelli and the SunTrust Racing machine had to negotiate one more lap of the circuit before his chance to pit. That dropped Angelelli all the way back to seventh, and on a track known for making it difficult to pass, the rest was history.
"When we have such a good car, it's just ridiculous to finish in this position," said Angelelli, who with Frisselle saw a three-race podium finishing streak come to an end. "We can't afford to finish in this position if we want to win the championship. It was just bad timing on when that yellow happened. We were already by, but with such a big lead on everybody else we were racing, they were able to dive into the pits and we had to go around one more time."
Late in the race, with some 30 minutes to go, Angelelli was running in sixth coming out of what turned out to be the final caution of the day. With his eyes firmly focused ahead on salvaging a top-five finish, he was instead pushed out of the way from behind on the restart by Michael Valiante in the No. 6 Michael Shank Racing Ford Riley. While Angelelli gathered up the SunTrust car on the outside of the 180-degree right-hand turn called the "Keyhole," two other cars were able to follow Valiante and dropped Angelelli back to ninth. Angelelli was able to pick up one position by the checkered flag for his final finishing position of eighth.
"I was really not happy with that last restart," Angelelli said. "I cannot race like that because we are racing for the championship and he has absolutely nothing to lose. It's a tough situation and I'm not happy with what happened."
Frisselle, meanwhile, lost a position to the No. 76 Krohn Racing Ford Lola of Nic Jonsson on the opening lap, but didn't take long to win the position back and continue his march toward the front, chasing early race leader and former teammate Mark Wilkins in the No. 61 AIM Autosport Ford Riley for the final 19 laps of his stint."
"The opening stint went really well," said the 25-year-old Frisselle. "Unfortunately, I didn't have the best of race starts. I missed a shift, so I lost a position to Nic. It was unfortunate, but I was able to get back by him and, once I did, I caught up to the leader. I wasn't able to get by the leader. He had a great pace. He was good down the straightaway, probably running a little less aero than us. But, our car was great. The team was calling a great strategy. We just got caught out by an unfortunate yellow. We've got to put it behind us and keep in the hunt for the championship. We're third in the points, not too far out of the lead. Watkins Glen (two weekends ago) was a big lesson on how quickly a leader can lose a lot of points. We needed better luck today. But, from here, we just need a lot of strong results, which we're more than capable of producing."
The race-winning No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Lexus Riley of Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas scored its second consecutive victory and broke a first-place tie in the championship with the SunTrust team. The No. 01 now leads the No. 99 Gainsco/Bob Stallings Racing Pontiac Riley team of Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty by 11 points (175-164). The SunTrust team is just one point back in third place with 164 points, and one point ahead of the fourth-place No. 12 Penske Racing Porsche Riley team of Timo Bernhard and Romain Dumas.
"I'm really at a loss for words after the way our day ended up," team owner Wayne Taylor said. "We put ourselves in perfect position to win our first race of the year, and it all basically came down to one ill-timed yellow that turned our day upside-down. In the big picture, we're still very much in position to win the championship with half a season to go. That's what we can hang our hat on as we leave here and go on to the next one."
Next up for the Rolex Series competitors is the annual Fourth of July weekend Brumos Porsche 250 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. This year's traditional Thursday-night event moves to Saturday afternoon, July 4, as part of a first-ever doubleheader with the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coke Zero 400 Powered by Coca-Cola set for later that night. The 250-mile (or 2-hour, 30-minute, whichever comes first) Rolex Series race will start at 2 p.m. EDT with live coverage on SPEED-TV.