Grand AM » 05 July 2007
SunTrust chasing Daytona triumph.
Even though the chase for the 2007 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series championship is only halfway over, there's a certain sense of urgency in the minds of Max Angelelli and the No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley team of Wayne Taylor Racing as they come to Daytona .
After three front-row qualifying efforts and five podium finishes through the season's first seven events – including their first victory in April at Alton, for the newly formed Wayne Taylor Racing organisation – Angelelli & Company are off to a solid start that is comparable to their 2005 Rolex Series championship run that concluded with five victories and 10 podium finishes in 14 events.
While that 2005 championship run by Angelelli and co-driver and now-team-owner Wayne Taylor may be difficult to duplicate for any team in any series, the 2007 edition of SunTrust Racing is far ahead of where it was a year ago after an uncharacteristically rough start that saw the team post finishes of 29th, 9th, 11th and 8th at the first four events.
All of that in mind, sitting in second place in the 2007 team championship, 16 points behind the No. 01 Telmex Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates entry of Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas, the entire SunTrust Racing camp feels the overwhelming need to not only continue its blistering pace of podium finishes but to string together a number of race wins to vault itself back atop the championship standings, where it was after its dominating victory at Virginia International Raceway (VIR) by an 11-point margin.
Thursday's Brumos Porsche 250 marks a welcome return to the friendly confines of Daytona and its 3.56-mile road circuit, where the SunTrust team has scored wins in the 2005 Rolex 24 At Daytona and the 2004 Paul Revere 250, in addition to a runner-up finish in the 2005 Brumos Porsche 250 and a third-place finish at this year's Rolex 24.
Angelelli will be joined for the third race in a row by co-driver Jonathan Cochet of France, a longtime sports car racing veteran and former Formula 1 test driver who, oddly enough, will be racing at Daytona for the first time in his career.
“I'm always very happy to go back to Daytona,” he said. “It's a track that I always enjoy. It's a place to go where you can race really, really hard. As we begin the second half of the season, it is time to start turning things around because I cannot hide the fact that we have been struggling to get the results we really need to keep pace in the championship the last three weekends.
“It's been tough. We need to try and regroup and try to understand what the problems are. As soon as we figure that out, I'm sure we can attack the problem and solve it and be competitive again.
“Unfortunately, our struggles are happening during the worst part of the season. We have three races in a row and we have no time to go testing to try to figure it all out. We'll need to do it during the race weekends. Somehow, we'll need to find the time and get it all sorted out. We have a very good team and it is just a matter of time before we start to get the kind of results we know we are capable of.”
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