SunTrust Racing: Porsche 250 Preview
LEEDS, April 5, 2011: Max Angelelli and Ricky Taylor: the “Professor” and the “Student” at what has come to be known as Angelelli University. Now in their second year together as co-drivers of the No. 10 SunTrust Chevrolet Dallara of Wayne Taylor Racing, they head to Barber Motorsports Park just outside Birmingham, Ala., for Saturday’s GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series Porsche 250, a race that a year ago kicked off an amazing trifecta of personal milestones for a then 20-year-old Taylor that made his professor proud.
Taylor blazed to a Barber track-record lap of 1 minute, 19.624 seconds (103.988 mph) in qualifying the SunTrust Racing machine on the pole at the 2010 Porsche 250. It was the first Rolex Series pole of his career in 23 starts that came in only his second qualifying attempt for the SunTrust team. And it made him the second-youngest polesitter in series history behind Colin Braun, who was 17 when he scored his first Rolex Series pole at, coincidentally, this same 2.3-mile, 17-turn road course back in 2006 driving the No. 75 Krohn Racing entry.
The race itself didn’t turn out quite so well for the SunTrust team last year despite the fact Taylor took complete command at the start, leading the first 15 laps before taking advantage of an early caution period to take on fuel and fresh tires. Late in the race, Angelelli was hit in the rear while trying to complete a pass for third place. The contact caused irreparable suspension damage that sent the SunTrust car to the garage and left the team with a disappointing 12th-place finish.
Undaunted, the team moved on to Virginia International Raceway in Alton, where the SunTrust Racing duo earned a hard-fought third-place finish that was Taylor’s first career Rolex Series podium. And, at the very next round on a magical Memorial Day at Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Conn., the SunTrust team had a magnificent run in scoring Angelelli’s 15th career Rolex Series win and Taylor’s first.
First pole, first podium and first win – all in the span of three races for Taylor. From there, he would secure another pole and six more podium finishes en route to second place in the championship for SunTrust’s best season-ending points position since Angelelli and Wayne Taylor co-drove to the Rolex Series title in 2005. This year, they’re back in second in the points and this weekend look to derail the red-hot defending series champions Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas in the No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates BMW Riley, who have won the opening two rounds of 2011 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway and Homestead-Miami Speedway and have won 11 of the last 13 races in all.
Practice for Saturday’s Porsche 250 begins Thursday afternoon with qualifying at 11:40 a.m. EDT Friday. Race time Saturday is 4 p.m. with next-day-delayed television coverage by SPEED beginning at noon Sunday. Live radio coverage will be provided by the Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM 127, Sports Play-by-Play 3, beginning at 3:45 p.m. Saturday. 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:
You are returning to a racetrack this weekend where your young co-driver kicked off a rather amazing trifecta of personal milestones by getting his first career Rolex Series pole last year. How would you size up Ricky Taylor in the year plus two races that you’ve driven together?
“It’s been a huge growth process, as everybody who follows this series and this team has been able to see. And he’s continuing along a very solid path. This year, we are focusing on a different aspect of the team – more on the technical rather than on the driving side – and he is responding incredibly well. This is part of a growing program. We both continue to learn. The reason Ricky has done so well, in my personal opinion, is that he listens a lot and listens very well, and this is a very good quality. It’s the beginning of everything that is good.”
What are your thoughts about racing at Barber this weekend?
“We’re having a good start to the season and are definitely in a better position than we were last year at this time. The strength of the team has grown from the driver point of view and the engineering point of view. I’m looking forward to a racetrack that’s always been good to us. I’d like to finally come out of there with a result I feel we deserve. The last two years, it was only due to driver mistakes that we didn’t come away with a win. This year, we will hopefully be able to complete a strong race and end up on the highest step of the podium.”
What is it about the Barber layout that has enabled the SunTrust Dallara to work so well, there?
“The car is very well-suited to that track. The configuration of the track and the way we can set up the car at that track seems to put us in a position of advantage compared to the other competitors.”
Have you done anything special in the last four off weeks since we last raced at Homestead?
“Not really. I am a very simple guy. Actually, I think it’s special that I never went to Twitter or Facebook in the last four weeks and, the way the world is turning as far as those things go, that is an accomplishment. I got to spend some good, quality time with my family, which I’d rather be doing instead of anything else if I can’t be driving the SunTrust racecar.”
Ricky Taylor, Co-Driver of the No. 10 SunTrust Racing Chevrolet Dallara:
A year ago, you won your first career Rolex Series pole. Any special thoughts as you head back to Barber this weekend?
“It was really a highlight of my career up until that point. Qualifying is the one chance I get to really push and have everything to myself and just go for it. Being on the pole and leading the race was pretty amazing last year, and I don’t feel any differently about it, now. I still want to do that more than anything, and a win to go along with it would be really nice this weekend.”
Despite the great start to the weekend last year, the race didn’t end up on such a great note. Any thoughts on that?
“I think it was a good weekend last year even though the result wasn’t what we wanted. It all came down to how well the track suits our car. The guys did a great job making the car quick last year and made it easy for the drivers. The story about last year’s race was the way the strategy played out. The yellow came out early, all the big teams pitted, all the gentleman drivers stayed out. That left the faster cars out there running behind the slower cars, and with the GT traffic and everything, it’s a particularly difficult track to make passes on. There’s really non-stop action the whole race through. It’s pretty exciting. But, at the same time, you have to be pretty conservative because it’s so easy to touch another car out there with such close racing that goes on. We had a little bit of bad luck at the end of the race, and this year we will just work really hard to keep it clean.”
What have you been up to the last four weeks during this latest lull in the Rolex Series schedule?
“The last four weeks, it’s been nice to have a little streak where I could catch up with school and train and do that sort of stuff. But, I’d definitely rather be racing every weekend. We’re rested, fresh and ready to go. It’s a three-day show for us this weekend, so it’ll be nice to go at it a little slower than usual, have some good time to think about things after our practice sessions, and sleep on stuff before qualifying on Friday morning, and another long sleep before the late-afternoon race Saturday with no morning warm-up.”
Wayne Taylor, Team Owner of the No. 10 SunTrust Racing Chevrolet Dallara:
A year ago, this was the race where Ricky kicked off an amazing three-race streak of personal milestones. Do you have any special thoughts about that as you head back to Barber this weekend?
“Barber made everybody feel like we made the right decision with Ricky, even though I was never questioning his ability. The team gave him a really good car. Max had done such a good job with him, it’s incredible. Everybody was very supportive. Now, we’re looking forward to winning more races and winning championships with Max and Ricky. We didn’t finish this race last year, unfortunately, because of an incident. Now, we’re going there after our best Homestead race in a number of years, we’re second in the championship, which is a much better position than we were in last year, and we’re looking to go to Barber with an even greater level of competitiveness than ever. It’s not going to be easy. The Ganassi team has won all these races the last two seasons because they’ve been the fastest and, obviously, the best team. We finished second in the championship last year and we’re second, again, this year. So we’re fighting to knock them off and we want to be the first to do that. I think they’ve done a great job and, obviously, they’ve had some good luck along the way. Good teams do that. Hopefully, we can start a win streak of our own this weekend at Barber.”