Solid Second-Place Run for SunTrust at Watkins Glen Angelelli, Taylor Score Their Fifth Podium Finish of the Season As They Easily Hold Off All But Record-Tying Ganassi Duo of Pruett, Rojas Talk about lightning fast, Saturday's Crown Royal 200...
Solid Second-Place Run for SunTrust at Watkins Glen
Angelelli, Taylor Score Their Fifth Podium Finish of the Season As They Easily Hold Off All But Record-Tying Ganassi Duo of Pruett, Rojas
Talk about lightning fast, Saturday's Crown Royal 200 at The Glen was the fastest GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series race in history, and the No. 10 SunTrust Ford Dallara of Wayne Taylor Racing was right in the thick of things, coming home with another solid second-place finish on the 2.45-mile, 11-turn Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International NASCAR road course.
Italian driving ace Max Angelelli and newly turned 21-year-old Ricky Taylor co-drove the SunTrust Racing machine to its fifth podium finish in 10 Rolex Series races this season and were the only ones with even a ghost of a chance of challenging the race-winning duo of Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas, who scored their record-tying seventh win of the season in the No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates BMW Riley.
Pruett crossed the finish line 2.720 seconds ahead of Angelelli after a pair of late-race restarts, having led the final 60 of 99 race laps and taking the checkered flag first for the seventh time in 2010 to tie the Rolex Series record for wins in a season set by Alex Gurney and Jon Forgarty in the No. 99 Gainsco/Bob Stallings Racing Chevrolet Riley en route to the 2007 series title. The race, slowed only by the two late-race cautions for a total of eight laps, was clocked in a Rolex Series-record 120.679 mph over the two-hour, 99-lap distance.
Although the Ganassi team was able to capture the victory in the long run, the SunTrust car certainly made a race of it, especially in the early going. Taylor, who celebrated his 21st birthday on Tuesday, quickly made his move to the front from his third starting position. He got by front-row starter Mark Wilkins in the No. 61 AIM Autosport Ford Riley on the opening lap, and stayed in close pursuit of polesitter Rojas in the No. 01 car for the first eight tours of the circuit.
Taylor took advantage of lapped traffic to get by Rojas for the lead on lap nine and stayed there for the next 29 laps until pitting for tires and fuel and a driver change on lap 38, just prior to the 45-minute mandatory pit stop window. Angelelli took over for the rest of the day and was in position to stay ahead of the No. 01 car, which stopped on the next lap but managed to get out of the pits ahead of Angelelli.
Nonetheless, Angelelli stayed in the second position behind Pruett until the final round of pit stops began on lap 55. Angelelli brought the SunTrust car into the pits for a fuel-only stop. Then, Pruett brought the No. 01 car into the pits for fuel and tires on the very next lap and, once again, got back out on track just ahead of Angelelli but with a pair of slower GT-class cars impeding Angelelli's progress behind him.
"We had a different strategy. We pitted and we didn't change tires. So, I was right there with warm tires and he went out of the pits right in front of me. But, between me and him, we had two GTs and I couldn't go by in the chicane going up the hill, and that's what basically killed us," said Angelelli, who also finished second to the Ganassi team with Taylor in June's Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen. "After that, he could warm up his tires and run away. Regardless, he had a different pace today. Even if I could have gotten by him, I doubt if I could've kept him behind me."
Angelelli had two chances to overtake Pruett on lap-87 and lap-92 restarts, but the veteran Pruett was able to keep the SunTrust car at bay.
For Taylor, who joined Angelelli as full-time co-driver this season, it was the fourth race in which he led laps during his opening stint this season.
"I got a little bit lucky with traffic," he said. "The 01 got balked a little bit going up through the esses, and it was just a really good opportunity. It's really difficult to pass here, so I think it was very fortunate that we got that opportunity. The SunTrust car was good. I think everybody was struggling a little bit because of the different track conditions, especially on the concrete patches. I know I was losing a little bit coming through (turn) 11. But I think, as the race went on and we put our Pirelli rubber down, the car kind of came to us. I think once Max got in the car, he got a little unlucky with traffic. The 01 was coming out of the pits on new tires and he had a good opportunity to get by but, unfortunately, he caught some traffic going up the hill."
With the victory, the Ganassi team opened up a 30-point lead over the second-place SunTrust team in the Rolex Series championship heading into the final two events of the season. The SunTrust team, meanwhile, opened up an 11-point lead over the third-place No. 99 Gainsco/Bob Stallings Racing Chevrolet Riley team, which finished third today.
"I think the team did just a fantastic job," said team owner Wayne Taylor, who won a pair of sprint races for SunTrust on the NASCAR short course at Watkins Glen, co-driving with Angelelli to the 2005 series championship. "Ricky ran a perfect race. He started third, got the lead early on, and brought the car in in the lead. The team did a good job on the pit stops. But Max got so unlucky with traffic, it was ridiculous. Hats off to Chip Ganassi Racing, again. It was a good result with the podium. Points-wise it was a good day for us because we're fighting for second rather than the lead. Again, great race, good job by everybody. I can't wait for the next one."
The next-to-last stop on the 2010 Rolex Series tour is Saturday, Aug. 28, at Montreal's Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, where the SunTrust team scored victories in 2007 and 2009.
-source: suntrust racing