Phoenix: SunTrust Racing qualifying report

SunTrust Race Team Moves Up to Fourth in Championship Phoenix, Arizona (May 13, 2006) -- Friday night's qualifying race at Phoenix International Raceway for the Gainsco Grand Prix Saturday featured half of the 20-lap event under caution when an...

SunTrust Race Team Moves Up to Fourth in Championship

Phoenix, Arizona (May 13, 2006) -- Friday night's qualifying race at Phoenix International Raceway for the Gainsco Grand Prix Saturday featured half of the 20-lap event under caution when an accident on Lap 10 put out five of 23 Daytona Prototype cars. Fortunately the No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley was not caught up in the accident and benefited by starting and finishing in the fourth position.

Max Angelelli qualified the No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley on the second row, in the fourth position, earlier Friday in the third practice session of the weekend, which set the qualifying grid for tonight's event. This is the third qualifying race of five in the 2006 Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series. The finishing positions of the qualifying race set the field for Saturday's Gainsco Grand Prix, Round Seven of 14 races during the 2006 season.

Like last weekend's qualifying race at Laguna Seca, it was a case of follow-the-leader for the ten green laps of racing that existed. Angelelli was happy with his car and his finishing position. Because the qualifying races award full championship points, the No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley team advanced from sixth to fourth in the standings.

"I'm very happy with the results," said Max "The Ax" Angelelli, defending Daytona Prototype Driver Champion, along with co-driver Wayne Taylor. "I tried to overtake the 99 car because I had more (a better car) than he did. He didn't want me to go though, so he closed the door. There's not much you can do in these short races without the GT cars. It's a nice strategy to have the cars mix up everything. The result is good for us for the race and for the championship. We're improving. I want to leave this race weekend in a better position than when we came over."

"I think Max did a good job," said Bill Riley of Riley Technologies, who calls strategy from the pits. "These qualifying races put us in a tough position because we want to move up and we want to get points but we don't want to take any big risks on the car. Max did the best he could with the few green laps and finished fourth, where we started. I think we're in a good spot for Saturday. With Magnussen starting the car and Max finishing, I think we're going to have a good race day."

"This new qualifying race format needs to be revisited because I don't think it's an attraction that's going to add any more spectators and that's what we need to do," said Wayne Taylor, car owner/driver of the No. 10 SunTrust car, who is sitting out driving this weekend. "More importantly, you end up with one driver doing an entire day all on his own, the second driver doesn't even drive and there's a chance of having accidents like what happened tonight -- which could take out cars for the race. It ended up being a good result for us and points-wise it was positive because some of the cars that were ahead of us in points finished behind us. It's all about the race now."

Polesitter and qualifying race winner Adrian Fernandez, along with Mario Haberfeld, will start the Gainsco Grand Prix race from the same position in the No. 12 Lowe's Pontiac Riley. The No. 01 CompUSA Lexus Riley car of Scott Pruett and Luis Diaz will start second. Next to the No. 10 SunTrust, from the third position, will be the No. 99 Gainsco Pontiac Riley of Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty.

The co-drivers who did not compete in Friday night's qualifying race will be the starting drivers for the Saturday Grand American race. Therefore Jan Magnussen will start the No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley for the 250-mile/166-lap/two-and-three quarter hour race.

"I think Max seems to be very happy with the car. It's a good, fast race car," said Danish hotshoe Jan Magnussen. "It will be a matter of trying to get through some of the traffic and see if I can get up front. The key will be to stay way out of trouble. I don't think it matters in the end about the ultimate speed. I think it will be about who drives around all the trouble."

The SunTrust team is coming off a victory last weekend at Laguna Seca, as well as finishing fifth in the qualifying race there. The extra points helped catapult them from tenth in the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Daytona Prototype Team championship standings when they arrived, to sixth when they left California. Friday's qualifying race already helped the SunTrust Race Team jump up two more positions, into fourth place in the Team point standings. Angelelli sits tenth in the Driver Championship standings, tied with two other drivers with 208 points, just 24 points out of the top spot.

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Series Grand-Am
Drivers Alex Gurney , Jan Magnussen , Adrian Fernandez , Jon Fogarty , Scott Pruett , Wayne Taylor , Luis Diaz , Max Angelelli