Watkins Glen III: SunTrust Racing race report

SunTrust Team Makes it Two in a Row at Watkins Glen with Another Victory Watkins Glen, New York (September 24, 2005) -- Wayne Taylor and Max "The Ax" Angelelli drove the No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley to their second Watkins Glen victory and ...

SunTrust Team Makes it Two in a Row at Watkins Glen with Another Victory

Watkins Glen, New York (September 24, 2005) -- Wayne Taylor and Max "The Ax" Angelelli drove the No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley to their second Watkins Glen victory and fifth total of the year at the Crown Royal 250 at The Glen. Today's podium finish was the team's sixth podium in a row and the ninth in 12 races as they continue to dominate the 2005 Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series.

With today's victory, the SunTrust race team became the winningest team in the six year Grand American history, collecting a total of eight victories over just the past two seasons, with three in 2004 and five so far this season. The victory also added another 35 points to the Daytona Prototype championship to make a total of 379, a 39-point lead over the No. 01 CompUSA/Ganassi team of Scott Pruett and Luis Diaz.

Once again, the Grand American race was not without drama. There were six cautions for a total of 26 of the 66 laps. The biggest incident came on lap 43 when six cars collided, causing five of them to retire.

The SunTrust team again used cautions to help their race pit strategy. They pitted early, on Lap 13, under the second race caution for a pit stop and driver change from qualifying and starting driver Wayne Taylor to Max Angelelli. The team used another caution on Lap 40 to make their final stop for fuel. That quick pit stop played a huge part in the final outcome of the race as they pitted while in second place and beat the No. 01 CompUSA/Ganassi car out of the pits for the lead.

From that point forward, it was a dogfight to the end, with Scott Pruett trying to put the move on Max "The Ax" Angelelli for the lead. The Italian held off Pruett, despite an odd racing occurrence two laps from the finish when Angelelli made contact with a woodchuck, which ran into his path on the back straight of the historic 3.4-mile historic New York circuit.

"That was one of the tougher races that we've had to encounter. The 01 car of Chip Ganassi Racing really made us work. Max really worked for it," said Bill Riley, who spearheads the SunTrust Pontiac Riley effort. "The guys did a great pit stop and got us out first. At that point it was just a wait through the long yellow and let Max do what he does best. Wayne kept the car clean when he handed it over to Max. Then the team and Max took over from there."

"I'm very happy for the win. It was important for the championship," said a happy Max Angelelli. "When I got the car with more than two hours to go, I didn't want to take any risks so I really took my time to work my way up. I got the opportunity with the 01 when Diaz was driving. I took the opportunity to overtake him. I knew that was important. So basically at that time I achieved what I wanted and my plan was just hanging around in front of the 01 and try to have an opportunity during the race. This opportunity came with a great pit stop with the team. They allowed me to overtake in the pit and they basically put me -- because of their great job on the pit stop -- in the lead."

"I'm really happy for Bill, Max and the whole SunTrust racing team," said Wayne Taylor, who calls Watkins Glen International his favorite U.S. road racing circuit. "I think it's a fantastic achievement by everybody considering the competition we're up against. This year with so many new teams and good drivers, it was going to become a bit like NASCAR, where you've got so many potential winners. These races are often with just 15 laps to go and anybody could win. It's an especially gratifying win."

"We have to go to one more race because effectively we have a 39 point lead with only 35 points to gain or lose in a win. So if we can get through VIR, then we can go to Mexico and enjoy ourselves," added Taylor regarding the point championship lead.

The animal incident on Lap 64 was not Angelelli's first run-in with an on-track critter. In 1997 a four-legged creature ran onto the Macau circuit while Angelelli was racing and caused him to lose the race.

"I saw this black thing and I couldn't understand what it was, but when I hit this, it was heavy. It moved the car...the front on the car, the steering wheel and everything. It was a big hit," said Angelelli of today's incident. Although there was damage to the right front bodywork and right headlight, fortunately, he was able to hold off Pruett and go on to win, despite having a less-than-perfect car for the final two laps.

The next Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series race is the VIR 400, Oct. 7-9 at Virginia International Raceway. The SunTrust team is the defending champion of last year's Grand American race.


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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Scott Pruett , Wayne Taylor , Luis Diaz , Max Angelelli , Chip Ganassi
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing