The Wayne Taylor Racing team enjoyed a solid start to the Grand Am season after picking up a double top-five finish from he season opening Rolex 24 at Daytona.
The #9 Toshiba Pontiac Riley of Penske-Taylor Racing took the final place on the podium thanks to Helio Castroneves, Kurt Busch and Ryan Briscoe, while the #10 Suntrust Racing car driven by regular-season co-drivers Max Angelelli and Michael Valiante and father and son pairing Wayne and Ricky Taylor battled to a hard earned fifth place.
“Having not one, but two cars in the top-five is most certainly the result of all these guys' hard work,” team boss Wayne Taylor said. “I have never seen a group of guys pull together and put something together at this level in such a short period of time and do the job that they've done. Racing is tough. Going 24 hours makes it tougher. Little things go wrong and little things happen, as they did for both of us. But these guys fought and soldiered on. This top-five finish for both cars, with one on the podium, is a huge result.
“It was a roller-coaster race, really. Both the #9 and the #10, whenever they were out on the track, were always running among the fastest lap times. So we both had winning cars, no question. We just had some little problems, which you have.
“But I'm very proud of everybody – SunTrust, for allowing me the opportunity to continue living this unbelievable dream, and to allow me to have my son drive with me; Toshiba, for coming on board to help make the Penske-Taylor program a reality; Pontiac, for stepping up to our two-car effort; and Miracle Sealants, our new partner, which has just come on board.”
Starting from the fourth position on the grid, Angelelli made short work of moving the #10 SunTrust car toward the front when the race kicked off, running second behind the front-row-starting #6 Michael Shank Racing Ford Riley of AJ Allmendinger by the end of the opening lap.
Angelelli led on two occasions during the opening hours of the race before handing the car over to Ricky Taylor, who was making his Rolex Series career debut alongside his father. The younger Taylor joined the race in 13th position at the 1-hour, 50-minute mark, and over the course of an error-free stint, was able to work his way into the lead by the time he pitted at the 3-hour, 20-minute mark to hand the car over to Valiante.
Valiante kept the SunTrust car at the front during his opening stint before handing it over to Wayne Taylor shortly after the five-hour mark. However, as he was attempting to leave the pit lane, Taylor radioed that the car had lost all power and would not restart. Although the engine fired back into life as the team got it back to the garage, he slipped four laps off the pace.
By the twelve-hour mark, the team had worked their way back into the top-ten, making up a lap in the process, and were about to gain back another lap when the second major setback occurred – a loss of brakes costing the team another six laps.
The third major set-back came when a blown radiator dropped the car a total of 14 laps off the pace and out of contention.