Watkins Glen: SunTrust Racing qualifying report

The No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley of Wayne Taylor Racing (WTR) will start Saturday's Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen from the pole after qualifying late Friday afternoon at Watkins Glen (N.Y.)...

The No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley of Wayne Taylor Racing (WTR) will start Saturday's Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen from the pole after qualifying late Friday afternoon at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International.

Max Angelelli clocked a fast lap of 1 minute, 42.888 seconds (118.964 mph) around the 11-turn, 3.4-mile Watkins Glen circuit to give SunTrust its second pole in six qualifying efforts this season and the team's third front-row start. Angelelli, who's co-driving with Michael Valiante, will lead the 45-car starting field to the green flag for Saturday's six-hour endurance marathon.

The feat was particularly special for the SunTrust team, which lost the entire contents of its transporter when it caught fire May 19 while en route from the last Rolex Series event at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca near Monterey, Calif., to the WTR shop in Indianapolis. The transporter's contents included the No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Dallara race car that debuted just four races ago. In the relatively short time since the incident, the team pressed back into service its Riley chassis that finished fifth at this year's season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona while a second Dallara is being built.

"My first thought is about the team and about all of our guys," said a jubilant Angelelli. "I quite frankly didn't do much. All of the guys did everything. We lost everything just 18 days ago. Look at what they did in that time. They put everything together. I want to thank all of the people outside the team who did so much to help us. This is amazing and this is what they deserve. I want to give them a good race tomorrow. We were all screaming. We were all so happy. The entire SunTrust Racing team, I believe, is the best in the paddock."

Angelelli laid down his fast lap on his only hot lap of the 15-minute qualifying session as the black flag appeared when the No. 76 Krohn Racing entry of Ricardo Zonta crashed heavily after just four minutes had elapsed. Zonta was unhurt, but the cleanup lasted until the checkered flag flew to end the session.

"That was our plan," Angelelli said about the decision to take to the track almost immediately when the qualifying session began while several teams opted to wait in pit lane. "We decided to go out at that point because it was in clear traffic before everybody else could get out. It was a good call."

Valiante scored the team's other pole position at Virginia International Raceway near Alton in late April, and the Canadian also qualified second at Homestead (Fla.) Miami Speedway in the Dallara's debut. Angelelli qualified this Riley chassis fourth at the Rolex 24.

"This is the same car we raced at Daytona," Angelelli said. "After that race, we just parked the car and all of its spare parts in the shop. The car, together with everything we had for it, was up for sale. After what happened, we just took that car, cleaned it, and brought it here. We didn't test springs, we didn't test gurneys, nothing. We're looking good. I'm very optimistic for the race."

"The amazing thing is that Max did it in one lap," said team owner Wayne Taylor, who co-drove with Angelelli when the SunTrust team qualified on the pole for the Sahlen's six-hour events in 2004 and 2005. "We've had so many qualifying sessions where people have waited in the pits and then there's a black flag and you don't get a lap time. We decided that, from now on, you have to go out in the beginning. That was our strategy today. I can't thank Max and everybody on the team enough, and everybody who has helped us. And so to turn everything around and come here and win the pole is pretty incredible. Thanks to everybody. Tomorrow's more important than today, but we'll leave here today with the pole and come back tomorrow."

-credit: str

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Ricardo Zonta , Wayne Taylor , Michael Valiante , Max Angelelli
Teams Wayne Taylor Racing