Watkins Glen - Land of the Rising Sun Second at The Glen Moves SunTrust Racing Within Three Points of Championship Lead Ryan Briscoe and Max Angelelli drove the No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley to a strong second-place finish in the Daytona ...
Watkins Glen - Land of the Rising Sun
Second at The Glen Moves SunTrust Racing Within Three Points of Championship Lead
Ryan Briscoe and Max Angelelli drove the No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley to a strong second-place finish in the Daytona Prototype division of Friday's Crown Royal 200 at The Glen Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series race at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International. And with two penalties befalling the championship-leading No. 76 Krohn Racing Team of Colin Braun and Jorg Bergmeister, the Briscoe/Angelelli duo picked up 10 points to place the SunTrust Racing squad just three points out of first.
"A win would've made for a perfect day, but this was still a very good day for the SunTrust Racing Team," said driver/owner Wayne Taylor, who replaced himself with Briscoe for the Crown Royal 200 at The Glen. "Ryan and Max did an outstanding job. This was the kind of race we needed to have."
The SunTrust Racing Team enjoyed a trouble-free outing at The Glen, something that couldn't be said for the No. 76 Krohn Racing Team. Their day went sour on lap six of the 82-lap race when Braun made contact with No. 12 Pontiac Riley of Mario Haberfeld, which sent the Brazilian spinning into the No. 19 Ford Crawford of Michael McDowell. Race officials assessed a two-minute penalty to Braun for avoidable contact, holding his No. 76 Ford Riley on pit road when the race went green on lap 14 to drop Braun off the lead lap.
"When we saw that the 76 had the penalty, obviously it was a very helpful thing for us as a team," said Briscoe. "But we had to keep racing as though nothing had happened, because it was still very early in the race."
Briscoe held steady in second as the No. 99 Pontiac Riley of Alex Gurney set the pace.
On lap 32 the yellow caution flag waved for an accident in turn eight. SunTrust Racing's race strategist Bill Riley called Briscoe to pit road, where Angelelli took over for Briscoe while fuel and four fresh Hoosier tires were added.
"Alex was really good at the start and on all the restarts as well," said Briscoe. "He had a good pace, and on the start I just floated in behind him. We were running about the same speed and we really didn't have the pace to actually pass him, but we kept a pretty safe distance to him and that was the objective to start the race. If we couldn't get the lead to start, we were just going to stay in second."
Ahead of the No. 01 Lexus Riley of Luis Diaz when the SunTrust team came to pit road, the advantage was lost when they became boxed into their pit stall by the car in front of them. Angelelli and the SunTrust crew had to back up their No. 10 machine in order to exit their stall. The precious seconds it took to get Angelelli out of the pits were enough for the No. 01 team and new driver Scott Pruett to emerge ahead of Angelelli.
The event proved decisive, with Pruett in third and Angelelli in fourth when the race returned to green. Leading the race was the No. 09 Pontiac Crawford of Guy Cosmo, who had yet to pit. In second was Jon Fogarty in place of Gurney in the No. 99.
But Fogarty was forced back to pit road for a stop and go penalty for running over equipment during his previous stop, as he left the pits with fueling equipment still attached to his race car. That moved Pruett to second and Angelelli to third.
And when Cosmo finally came to pit road to make the driver change with Bobby Labonte on lap 43, it was Pruett and Angelelli running 1-2.
Bergmeister, in place of Braun in the No. 76 machine, was back in 15th but closing on the top-10. He got there on lap 60, and was poised to pick up even more spots.
But during a restart with 16 laps to go, Bergmeister jumped the flag. Race officials penalized the No. 76 Kohn Racing entry for a second time. Upon serving the stop and go, Bergmeister returned to the 2.45-mile road course in 14th. Pruett and Angelelli, meanwhile, continued to run 1-2.
"As soon as we saw what was going on penalty-wise, we were definitely tip-toeing around to make sure we stayed safe," said Riley.
While all appeared well for Angelelli, there was cause for concern.
Riley radioed Angelelli that the team's telemetry showed he was only using 90 percent throttle. It was surmised that a piece of rubber had gotten between the gas pedal and the floor, because Angelelli had never been known to be anything less than full throttle.
The situation never resolved itself, allowing Pruett to run securely in first. But even at 90 percent throttle, Angelelli was still quicker than the third-place No. 23 Porsche Crawford driven by Patrick Long.
"Unfortunately, the 01 car got us in the pit stop, and that was a real shame because we came to pit road in front of them," said Briscoe. "But Max did a great job to keep the pressure on all day. Pruett didn't make any mistakes. He made it tough."
On lap 71, Riley radioed to Angelelli, "You're pulling away from the No. 23 car." And with five laps to go, he said, "No pressure from behind."
That's the way it ended - Pruett in first, Angelelli in second and Long in third.
"Scott had really good speed," said Angelelli. "We had a problem with the throttle where it was not opening completely and was actually about to break.
"Our car was still really fast. I was pushing. I gave it everything I had. We were very lucky because the last 15-20 laps I was not at full throttle. The throttle cable got loose and almost broke. So, we're very lucky and I am very happy for second-place and being 10 points closer to the championship.
"Ryan Briscoe drove the car at the beginning and did just a fantastic job, exactly what we needed."
The second-place finish was the seventh straight top-four finish for the SunTrust Racing Team and their fourth podium finish of the season.
A mere three points separate the No. 10 SunTrust Racing Team from the championship-leading No. 76 Krohn Racing Team, while the No. 01 CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing Team lurks just three points arrears the SunTrust squad in third.
Krohn Racing's Bergmeister continues to lead the driver standings by a hefty margin, but Angelelli's second-place drive narrowed the gap from 38 points to 29 points. Pruett, third in the driver standings, also closed on Bergmeister, and by winning, Angelelli as well. Pruett is just three points behind Angelelli and 32 points back of Bergmeister.
"You hate to make points up the way we made 'em up today, but we've lost points the same way," said Riley, who has seen the SunTrust Racing Team rise from 29th after the season-opening 24 Hours at Daytona to second following the team's second-place finish at Barber July 30. "So, we have to take it any way we can get it. We're definitely way into the hunt right now, so it's going to be a big fight the next two races."
The Daytona Prototypes of the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series will race again Aug. 26 in the penultimate 250-mile race at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. The race begins at 6 p.m. EDT with Speed providing tape-delayed coverage at 3 p.m. EDT on Aug. 27.