MONTREAL (Aug. 25, 2009) -- A winning driver from each of the first two Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series races on the legendary Circuit Gilles Villeneuve will be strapped into the cockpit of the No. 10 SunTrust Ford Dallara of Wayne Taylor Racing...
MONTREAL (Aug. 25, 2009) -- A winning driver from each of the first two Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series races on the legendary Circuit Gilles Villeneuve will be strapped into the cockpit of the No. 10 SunTrust Ford Dallara of Wayne Taylor Racing for Saturday's third running of the Montreal 200. And with that, 2007 winner Max Angelelli and his co-driver Brian Frisselle, winner of the 2008 event, look to finish SunTrust's four-race "Solid Is Lightning Fast" summer tour just the way it started -- with a victory.
The four-race promotion of SunTrust's line of mobile and online banking products started on a blazing hot Fourth of July afternoon at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, where Angelelli and Frisselle drove their newly painted silver race car, with the words "Solid Is Lightning Fast" emblazoned on the sidepods, all the way to victory lane in thrilling fashion.
But in the two races since -- at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala., and Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International -- misfortune got the better of the SunTrust team, which had to settle for finishes outside the top-10 for only the 12th and 13th time in 75 races since joining the Rolex Series in 2004. Most importantly, it dropped the SunTrust team 14 points out of the championship lead with three races remaining thanks to an early race off-course excursion at Barber, and a late-race blown tire brought on by earlier contact with another competitor at Watkins Glen.
Angelelli and Frisselle hope to put those kind of unexpected occurrences in their rear-view mirror as they look to score SunTrust's second win of the season, its second in three outings at the 2.708-mile, 15-turn road circuit located on the Isle of Notre Dame in the middle of the St. Lawrence River, and Frisselle's second consecutive victory there.
In the inaugural Montreal 200 in 2007, Angelelli and then co-driver Jan Magnussen had a stellar weekend from the time they unloaded the No. 10 SunTrust Racing machine. They were fastest in practice, qualified on the front row, benefited from stellar pit stops and strategy, and put on a virtual driving clinic in securing SunTrust's second victory of the season.
Last year, while Angelelli and the SunTrust team struggled through nagging brake issues to a sixth-place finish, Frisselle and co-driver Mark Wilkins pulled off the victory for the No. 61 AIM Autosport Ford Riley team in one of the most exciting finishes in Rolex Series history. The race-leading Brumos Porsche ran out of fuel as it approached the finish line, and Wilkins, running second at the time, was able to slip past and nip the Cheever Racing entry by mere inches for the win. It was the first of Frisselle's Rolex Series career.
With a championship still well within their reach with three races remaining, the SunTrust driving duo would be more than happy to help the cause with another stellar outing this weekend. They have history on their side, they have the team, and they have the equipment to get the job done -- it says so on the side of the car. Or, as they say in Montreal: "Solide Est Rapide Comme L'eclair."
Practice for Saturday's Montreal 200 begins at 10:30 a.m. EDT Friday with qualifying set for 5 p.m. The green flag flies for Saturday's 200-mile (or 2-hour, whichever comes first) race at 2:15 p.m. with SPEED-TV's live broadcast beginning at 2 p.m. The detailed event schedule, as well as live timing and scoring during all on-track sessions, can be found at www.grand-am.com.
Max Angelelli, co-driver of the No. 10 SunTrust Racing Ford Dallara:
You head to Montreal to start the final three-race stretch of the season with a 14-point deficit looming between you and the first-place team in the championship. Do you feel you and the team have your work cut out for you with regard to the championship?
"As I guess everybody knows already, I will never give up. I will never recognize the job we have to do as difficult or easy. I just always push as hard as I can at any given moment and do everything I can to get the best possible result. I can leave nothing on the table. As far as the championship is concerned, if there are races left in the season, everything is possible. As competitive as this series is, you can be leading the championship and then fall out of it, all within a fraction of a second because anything can happen at any time. Look at what happened to us at The Glen. We got hit by another car. We broke second gear. We blew our right-rear tire as the result of getting hit by the other car. Now we are 14 points behind in the championship. But there are still three races to go, and if anything like that happens to our competitors, then we're right back up there. With Grand-Am as competitive as it is, the frustrating part is you can have the best car and the best team and the best drivers and still there are no guarantees you will be running strong at the end of the race. That's the beauty of it, I guess. But what happened to us at The Glen was a shame because we were in a good spot, in front of the (No.) 99 and chasing the (No.) 01, and we got caught up on somebody else's mistake. Hopefully, we'll make up for it this weekend."
After you won the 2007 race with the old Riley chassis, you came back to defend your race win with the relatively new Dallara chassis and experienced some issues that kept you from repeating. How do you feel about your chances with the Dallara this year?
"Last year, our car was different. We had different parts and everything. The 2009 car is very different, so I'm pretty optimistic. It's had a good year of development. I'm willing to say most everything on our current car is lot different, and definitely a lot better. Last year, we had brake issues that made it very difficult to keep pace during the race. I'm pretty confident we won't see those issues again this year. I know we have a car that is capable of winning the race. I wouldn't say it's really a racetrack that our car likes. But I like the track. Brian likes the track. We love the city. It's a cool event every way you look at it. I can't wait to get there and go to work."
Brian Frisselle, co-driver of the No. 10 SunTrust Racing Ford Dallara:
You scored your maiden victory at Montreal last year and now you get the chance to go back and repeat. How do you feel about going back there with the SunTrust team?
"It was a really fun race last year for a lot of reasons. It proved to me that anything can happen. No matter what happens, you've got to go in there and perform your best, and no matter whether you're competitive or not, just keep doing what you're doing and it'll come to you. I expect us to be competitive again this weekend because we always are. But it's a tough track, kind of funny setup-wise. It has really large curbs, chicanes, and it requires very low downforce. You see stuff on the cars that you never see on a traditional road course. It's more like street-course stuff. It'll be interesting to see what we've got. I expect good things with the Dallara. When a low-downforce, slippery aero setting is the call, I think we're more slippery than anyone else. Our car has great top-end speed. All we'll have to do is keep the brakes underneath us and we should be in really good shape. I love that track, as you can imagine."
What do you remember about your race-winning weekend at Montreal last year?
"Last year, it was tough at first. In practice, we got involved in the (No.) 99's spin and ended up having contact. It made us miss all the practice time up to qualifying. So I went out blind for qualifying and was still able to put it third on the grid. I had an excellent start to the race. I got a position on Scott (Pruett) going into turn two, but then he spun me out when he hit me in the right rear going into three. I thought that ruined our race, but I was able to charge back up into top-10. I handed the car off to Mark (Wilkins) in seventh place, and then I had a feeling we were going to be okay. All of a sudden, the race started coming to us. All race long, I had to hand it to the AIM guys because they kept us in fuel mileage mode and it really paid off. Then, the way the race ended in such an exciting way, I almost had a heart attack. Well, not really, but we went from fourth on the white-flag lap to second, and then we won the race. It was awesome."
Wayne Taylor, owner of the No. 10 SunTrust Racing Ford Dallara team:
After looking so promising at The Glen, it looks again like winning the championship is going require a little help from the other teams. What's your mindset and the mindset of the team heading to Montreal this weekend?
"I was up at the shop last week and everybody is incredibly motivated. We know we have the best team with the best drivers and the best equipment, so we just need to keep our heads down and go out and do what we know how to do. What happened at Barber and Watkins Glen was just a bad situation. But time heals. We're still very solidly in the top-three in the championship. That's all well and good but, personally, I'm tired of the top-three. We need to go out and win this thing again. Still, we can only do what we can do, which is to continue doing what the team's doing. We've got the package to win most everywhere we go. We've led about every race this year. From here, maybe both our drivers need to be a little bit more cautious in traffic. For the race, we'll get the job done."
What do you think it will take to win the championship?
"Well, we certainly need a little good luck, for a change. People do say that you make your own luck. But we've had some stupid things happen that have kept us out of the championship lead. We should be miles ahead, but here we are with a 14-point deficit that can be very difficult to overcome with three races to go and if everybody keeps finishing well. On the upside, there are still 105 points to be scored before season's end. We just need to be running up front and put as many cars between us and the (No.) 99 and the (No.) 01 as possible. With the latest Grand-Am rule change giving the Porsches another 400 rpm, that should put several more cars back into the fight at each race. It'll definitely make things interesting these last three races, and could turn out to work in our favor."