Rain Plays Big Role in Grand American Qualifying Race at VIR Alton, Virginia (April 21, 2006) -- A downpour of rain at Virginia International Raceway had its effects on the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series' inaugural qualifying race today.
Rain Plays Big Role in Grand American Qualifying Race at VIR
Alton, Virginia (April 21, 2006) -- A downpour of rain at Virginia International Raceway had its effects on the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series' inaugural qualifying race today. Due to heavy rain all day, the qualifying race was delayed and the grid was set by the 2006 point standings, instead of the morning practice times, as originally planned. Thus, the No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley of Wayne Taylor and Max Angelelli started from the thirteenth position on the grid.
Qualifying driver Max "The Ax" Angelelli managed to drive a clean race and elevated two positions to finish eleventh overall. With this finish position, the SunTrust team acquired 20 points, out of a possible 35, in the double point weekend format, which elevated them to 12th in the points going into tomorrow's VIR 400 race. Today's qualifying race was worth the same amount of points as any Grand American race. Today's qualifying race ended up having about 24 minutes of racing after one reconnaissance lap and two pace laps at the start, yet the points payout was equal to the Rolex 24 At Daytona twice-around-the-clock endurance race.
"With that much rain and water on the track, it was pretty tough for Max to pass anybody or get close to anybody without going off the track. I think the whole race went that way for everyone," said Bill Riley, owner of Riley Technologies who spearheads the racing effort of the No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley. "There were only a few passes. Max did a great job, kept the car clean, held his position and tried to make a few moves there near the end, but there was just too much mist to make a clean move."
Finishing positions from today's qualifying race will set the starting grid for Sunday's 400-kilometer/250 mile, 77 laps or two-and-three-quarter hour race.
The No. 10 starting driver for tomorrow's VIR 400 will be SunTrust car owner/driver Wayne Taylor. "It is unfortunate that it rained and we had to start the qualifying race in the position of the 2006 championship standings (13th) under real difficult weather conditions. Max finished eleventh. It was really a good job just getting the car to the end. So many cars were going off course. It's the same as I've been saying the whole year about the championship...if you finished out of the Top Five last year, you felt pretty bad. This year, if you're in the Top Ten, it's pretty good. We'll just have to wait and see tomorrow."
Max had hoped for the ability to greatly improve his position on the track in today's qualifying race, but circumstances with the weather dictated it best for him to stay clear of any mishaps and bring the car safely home in one piece for tomorrow's point race.
"It's going to be tough tomorrow for the race. I had hoped to give Wayne the car in a higher starting position, but the weather did not allow for this," said Angelelli, who was co-champion with Taylor in the 2005 Daytona Prototype Driver points standings. "Starting from 11th will be difficult. We will try to improve tomorrow to hopefully finish in the Top Ten again. It looks like this is our main objective this year, which makes it a little bit different than last year."
Tomorrow's VIR 400 race will be televised live on Speed Channel on Sunday, April 23 at 1:00 p.m. EDT.