SunTrust comes home seventh at Laguna Seca

Angelelli, Taylor Struggle with Tire Issues All Weekend Long in Sunny California

#10 SunTrust Racing Chevrolet Corvette DP: Max Angelelli, Ricky Taylor
#10 SunTrust Racing Chevrolet Corvette DP: Max Angelelli, Ricky Taylor

Photo by: Jeff Davidson

Mama always said there’d be days like this. Fortunately, they’ve been few and far between for Max Angelelli and Ricky Taylor, co-drivers of the No. 10 SunTrust Corvette Dallara DP of Wayne Taylor Racing, whose weekend-long struggle with tire issues came to a merciful end with Sunday afternoon’s seventh-place finish in the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series Continental Tire Sports Car Festival at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca near Monterey, Calif.

From the opening of practice Friday morning until the checkered flag waved to end today’s 2-hour, 45-minute race on the scenic 2.238-mile, 11-turn hillside road circuit, the veteran Angelelli, the 23-year-old Taylor and rest of the SunTrust Racing braintrust just could not find the magic setup that would enable the No. 10 Corvette DP to make a set of tires work for more than just a handful of laps.

Taylor’s fourth-place effort during Saturday’s 15-minute qualifying session was the best the SunTrust car had looked all weekend. The rest of the time, it was just a struggle.

“We did the best we could with what we had,” said Angelelli, the Italian who co-drove SunTrust Racing to victory at Laguna Seca in 2006 with Jan Magnussen and scored back-to-back podium finishes with Brian Frisselle in 2009 and Taylor last season. “It was obvious our SunTrust Corvette did not perform as it always does this weekend. It’s one race out of 12 races this season and it’s really a low percentage for this type of thing to happen. So, we can probably accept one bad race because of issues like we had this weekend. But, we will not rest, we will not take this sitting down. We will analyze the data and understand why things turned out the way they did this weekend. What it comes down to is, it’s really a struggle for us to have to race this particular tire. It just doesn’t agree with our car. Knowing they have much, much better tires stored away somewhere and having us race these three-year-old tires just isn’t a good thing for us and it’s very discouraging. These kinds of weekends are really difficult to accept.”

Taylor was able to keep the SunTrust car in the top-five during his opening 29-lap stint. He pitted during the first of the race’s only two caution periods at the 45-minute mark to hand the driving duties over to Angelelli. The Italian restarted fifth on lap 31 and held that position for just four laps before he began free-falling back through the order. By lap 45, he was all the way back in 10th. He pitted twice for fuel and tires before race’s end, at one time finding his way as high as fourth in the order as the field cycled through green-flag pit stops of their own, but he managed only a seventh-place finish by the time the checkered flag flew.

“It was just a struggle,” said Taylor, who qualified on the pole here last year for the fourth of six consecutive races and led the opening 25 laps. “We can only learn, I guess, and take what we learned and mark off a couple of things that didn’t work. We can just take this as one of those bad weekends and then hope we’ve got all the bad weekends we’ve had this year out of our system before we get going again for next year. I’ve never, ever dreamed it would be such a fight to finish sixth, seventh or eighth. It really makes you appreciate the good times, when we were up there, leading races every weekend. It’s definitely humbling. Fortunately we’re headed to a track where we’ve never lost to finish up the season. Hopefully, it’ll be on a good note.”

The No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Corvette DP of polesitter Richard Westbrook and Antonio Garcia scored the victory today over the runner-up No. 99 Gainsco/Bob Stallings Racing Corvette DP of Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty.

The seventh-place finish dropped Angelelli and Taylor to ninth in the point standings, 12 points out of third with the season finale three weeks hence at Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Conn., where SunTrust Racing scored back-to-back victories in resounding fashion in 2010 and 2011. Race day is Saturday, Sept. 30, with live television coverage provided by SPEED beginning at 3 p.m. EDT. Live radio coverage by the Motor Racing Network (MRN) and SiriusXM Channel 117 begins with pre-race activities at 2:45 p.m.

Source: SunTrust Racing

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