VIR: SunTrust Racing preview

Alton, Virginia (October 12, 2005) -- Already the winningest team in Grand American history, the No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley race team of Wayne Taylor and Max Angelelli is focused on the 2005 points championship as they prepare for the VIR ...

Alton, Virginia (October 12, 2005) -- Already the winningest team in Grand American history, the No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley race team of Wayne Taylor and Max Angelelli is focused on the 2005 points championship as they prepare for the VIR 400.

The SunTrust team, with a remarkable five wins and nine podium finishes in 12 races, has built a sizeable advantage, 379-340, in the 2005 Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series points championship over the second-place challengers, the No. 01 CompUSA/Ganassi race team of Scott Pruett and Luis Diaz. The team hopes to lock up the championship at Virginia International Raceway, as 35 points go to the winner.

'Obviously, the dream thing would be to wrap the championship at VIR and go down to Mexico with a clear mind,' said Bill Riley, owner of Riley Technologies and Race Director of the SunTrust race team. 'That's our goal for the weekend.'

Angelelli, known as Max 'The Ax' for his ability to slice through traffic, believes the car and team will help Riley see his dream. 'We proved we have a good car and team who is really working well on the pit strategy and pit stops [throughout the year],' explained the competitive Italian.

'We are going to VIR to win the race,' co-driver Angelelli continued. 'I'd like to go to Mexico free of mind. I'd like to go to Mexico and drive as hard as I can without being in 'championship mode' of needing to finish the race and stay away from contact. It is not as much fun to drive that way.'

'Should we take first at VIR, it would allow us to coast to Mexico City and relish our success,' added SunTrust team owner/driver Taylor.

The SunTrust team is glad to return to the historic 3.27-mile VIR circuit, where they had great success last year when they won the VIR 400.

'VIR is a great place to race,' said Riley. 'I think I had one of the first teams to test at the track way back in 2000 and I always enjoy coming back to VIR. Winning the race there last year was great and I love winning races at tracks I really enjoy. But, it can be a bit frustrating trying to repeat a win and that's what we're facing this weekend.'

'I never liked VIR actually, until last year,' said Taylor, who had a big accident at the circuit in 2000 while testing the Cadillac LMP car. 'But, now I really enjoy it and we're looking forward to going back there. I like the nature of the track ' the elevation changes, the fast sweepers, the high speed cornering and the long straight.'

The composition Taylor described is exactly why Angelelli loves the course.

'I enjoy it because you always have a chance to overtake vehicles,' added the popular Angelelli.

'VIR could be a pivotal race for the SunTrust team,' said John Mauney, Senior Vice President and Director of Marketing Services for SunTrust Bank. 'We have the opportunity to conclude what has already been a remarkable year with a championship in Virginia. Our drivers and team have maintained a consistent, successful approach all year long, which has enabled us to reach this point. I'll be there to cheer them on, as well as many SunTrust guests and employees.'

Should the team seal the points championship at VIR, each driver has his own idea of a unique way to celebrate.

'If we win, I'm going to drink a bottle of 1986 Chateau Margaux wine,' said Taylor, an avid wine collector, who called the French vineyard his favorite. The year holds special significance to the renowned sports car driver because Taylor won his first racing championship in 1986 in his native South Africa.

The colorful Angelelli plans on celebrating not quite as crazily as he has in the past.

'Last time I celebrated winning a championship, my mechanics painted my body black,' explained Angelelli. 'I might still like to celebrate with paint ' but maybe on the helmet or something this time. It wasn't quite that much fun after it took me a month to clean off all the paint, but we did it because we were Italian and young.'

With a victory at last month's Crown Royal 250 at The Glen, the SunTrust team became the winningest team in the six-year history of Grand American racing by collecting a total of eight wins over the team' two seasons and 24 races.

'I think it's a really big achievement,' said Taylor, who now resides in Florida. 'When I was putting the team together I couldn't have expected to have so much success so quickly. The important thing is that it was achieved by a committed team with great partners.'

'I think that really shows how good the team is,' added Riley. 'All the guys that work on the team did a super job, the drivers do a great job -- everything for the last two years has flowed. I'm glad that we're able to say we are the winningest team.'

The SunTrust team's success this year includes victories at the Rolex 24 At Daytona, the Grand Prix of Miami, the Porsche 250 at Barber, the CompUSA 200 at The Glen and the Crown Royal 250 at The Glen. Other podium finishes include the Ferrari Maserati 400 at Fontana, the Brumos Porsche 250 at Daytona, the EMCO Gears Classic at Mid-Ohio and the Phoenix 250.


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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Wayne Taylor , Luis Diaz , Max Angelelli