Grand Am - Lime Rock Sun Trust Preview
LAKEVILLE, May 26, 2011: It was all in a day’s work when Max Angelelli and Ricky Taylor drove their No. 10 SunTrust Chevrolet Dallara of Wayne Taylor Racing to a dominating victory in the inaugural Memorial Day Classic for GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series Daytona Prototypes at scenic Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Conn., last May.
They first hit the track for practice at 9:30 a.m. and, by 4:50 p.m., the veteran Angelelli had recorded his 15th career Rolex Series win with his co-driver, then-20-year-old Taylor, earning his first win in 25 Rolex Series starts. They combined to lead a race-high 95 of 174 laps, taking advantage of brilliant strategy and lightning-fast pit work by the SunTrust team in ending the three-race win streak of the No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates duo of Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas, who were essentially out of contention on the very first turn of the very first lap after being shoved off-course and heavily damaging the front of their racecar.
Angelelli and Taylor look for a repeat performance this coming Monday on the ultra-quick 1.5-mile, seven-turn layout tucked away in the hills of northwest Connecticut. And, assuming lightning won’t strike twice, they figure to be in a dogfight this time around with the BMW of Pruett and Rojas as the checkered flag nears.
While the Ganassi duo has won 12 of the last 15 Rolex Series events dating back to March 2010, recent history has proven they can be beat as the No. 9 Action Express Racing Porsche Riley team ended their six-race win streak two weekends ago at Virginia International Raceway (VIR) in Alton. Angelelli and Taylor, who narrowly missed a podium finish at VIR, look to make it not only two wins in a row at Lime Rock on Monday, but two wins in a row overall by a team not named Ganassi.
Monday’s Memorial Day Classic is a one-day show with practice beginning at 9:30 a.m. EDT, qualifying at 12:05 p.m., and the two-hour, 45-minute race at 2 p.m. with live television coverage provided by SPEED. Live radio coverage will be provided by the Motor Racing Network and Sirius Channel 94 beginning at 1:45 p.m. Live timing and scoring during all on-track sessions can be found at www.grand-am.com, and now on mobile devices at m.grand-am.com.
Max Angelelli, Co-Driver of the No. 10 SunTrust Racing Chevrolet Dallara:
What’s your outlook heading to Lime Rock Park for Monday’s Memorial Day Classic as the defending race-winner?
“Last year, it was a very good race for us. Everything went as planned and, obviously, this year we want to go back and try to double it and win again. Lime Rock is a particularly short track and car set-up and race strategy are going to play a big role. But we’ll try. We have a good car, now, with Chevy power. We basically are in the right spot to win again, there, and win some other races, too. The track really suits our car. Lime Rock was the first year (for the Rolex Series Daytona Prototypes) last year, and we were kind of happily surprised at how well the car did there. We believe we have the winning car that we had there last year. We still have it and we will have it for the rest of the season. Unfortunately, just minor, unlucky events have kept us from a win this season. But everyone knows in the paddock that, as soon as we put everything together – the car is there, the drivers are there and the team is there, where everybody is in the same place at the same time – we will win, and we will win again, and again, and again.”
You’re racing on the Rolex Series’ shortest track on Monday, then turn around four days later for the six-hour race at Watkins Glen. Does that pose any particular challenges? And what do you plan on doing between races?
“Having such a short turnaround between Lime Rock and Watkins Glen can be very challenging if you crash the car at Lime Rock. But we have a good team, and we have a lot of spares, so we will be able to turn the car around if it ends up being a bad weekend at Lime Rock. Our team is very capable. You can basically be in a brand new car within three days with the amount of spares we have and the people we have. It is challenging, but it depends on the weekend you have. Physically, it depends on if it’s going to be hot at Lime Rock. Last year, it was very hot. A lot depends on track position. If you leave the racetrack, or if you have to fight your way back to the lead, that’s a big difference at Lime Rock. If you’re leading the race, it’s a lot more relaxing. Between the races, we are going to take a trip to New York City together with the family – Wayne, Ricky, Jordan (Wayne’s younger son) and Shelley (Wayne’s wife) – and I’m sure we’ll have a fun time. If we win the race at Lime Rock, we’ll only have two days to celebrate or, let’s say, to feel great. That is the bad side. The good side is, if you have a bad weekend at Lime Rock, then you only have two days to suffer”
It’s been four races since your return to General Motors power with the new Chevy engine. How would you gauge that program thus far?
“It’s going very well. That was a very good change. It was necessary, in some respects, and everybody at GM, Chevy and Childress – ECR (Earnhardt Childress Racing), which is our engine builder – is doing an excellent job. Definitely big steps forward. So, we’re really enjoying our new (engine) model, our new unit, and it’s performing well. There’s still a lot to do, a lot that can be done, but we are very happy. It’s a good engine, good top-end power, good torque going out of the corner, long gears, low revs. I believe it gives us everything we need to win.”
Ricky Taylor, Co-Driver of the No. 10 SunTrust Racing Chevrolet Dallara:
You’re heading to Lime Rock, where you scored your first career Rolex Series win last year. How would you sum up the season, so far, and your outlook heading into Monday’s race?
“This season, so far, I think, has been going very well even though the results aren’t necessarily to our liking. While I think last year the SunTrust car suited a couple of tracks, I think this year we’re able to compete at the front on every track we go to, and the whole team has been doing a really good job. Just a couple little mistakes here and there have kept us, I guess, from a win – just a couple of unlucky events, really, as far as stopping Ganassi goes. We’ve had a lot of speed. I think just some little things have kept us a little bit short. But I think, definitely, the speed is there, and Lime Rock is definitely going to suit our car. I’m really looking forward to it.”
Your younger brother Jordan got his first Rolex Series win in a GT-class Camaro at VIR two weekends ago. What did you think of that, and is there any kind of sibling rivalry between the two of you?
“It was great for Jordan to get his first win. I think we all knew it was coming at some point. He’s been super-fast this year. As far as a rivalry goes, I guess it’s good that we’re in separate classes so we don’t have to compete directly against each other. But we definitely want each other to do well every weekend.”
Wayne Taylor, Team Owner of the No. 10 SunTrust Racing Chevrolet Dallara:
Are you feeling particularly encouraged to be heading back to Lime Rock, where your SunTrust team scored a win in its first outing there last year?
“Obviously, we’ve got good memories from Lime Rock. We won there. It was Ricky’s first win. We’re really looking forward to going back. Last year, two of the main contenders took themselves out on the first lap. This year, I’m sure they won’t do that again, so it’s going to be a tough race. The 90 (Spirit of Daytona) car is fast this year. The 99 (Gainsco/Bob Stallings Racing) car is always fast, and so is the 01 (Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates) car. It’ll be tough, but we’ll be ready for it. They put up a bounty for anyone who could beat the Ganassi car last race but, like we always say, the bounty means nothing. Everybody should be doing everything they can to win every race, no matter what’s at stake. I’ve said many times that I know we can beat Ganassi. We just haven’t, yet, because so far, we just keep shooting ourselves in the foot. There has been nobody to blame but us. (Team manager) Simon (Hodgson) is really pushing everybody to understand that what we do here, and all we care about, is winning races. That’s all we can focus on and that’s what we will be out to do again at Lime Rock.”
You won at Lime Rock in a prototype previously in your driving career, and your son Ricky did the same last year. And last race at VIR, your younger son Jordan scored his first career Rolex Series win in a GT-class Camaro. How special is that?
“Yeah, I won at Lime Rock in the Ferrari in 1995 and, 15 years later, my older son wins there. If you would’ve told me my son would be driving for me and win the race 15 years later, I truly never would have believed it. Now, Ricky and Jordan both have a win. I’m sure, for Jordan, it’s a huge relief like it was last year at Lime Rock for Ricky. At the same time, you’re only as good as your last race, so what we all need to do is step it up.”