Grand AM » 8 May 2006
SunTrust shine at Laguna Seca.
After struggling in the early rounds of the 2006 Rolex Series, defending champion Max Angelelli and the #10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley team returned to their winning ways in Sunday's Road & Track 250 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
Co-driving with Jan Magnussen - who led 18 laps during his stint in the cockpit - Angelelli claimed the lead from David Donohue's #58 Red Bull Brumos Racing Porsche with 21 laps remaining, and then held off several late challenges from Alex Gurney in the #99 GAINSCO/Blackhawk Racing Riley-Pontiac to win by 2.798secs.
It was Angelelli's first victory since the Crown Royal 250 at Watkins Glen last September, and Magnussen's first overall triumph in Rolex Series competition since a 200-mile race at the same venue in 2004. It was also the first overall victory of the season for Pontiac, which has won the last two Daytona Prototype engine manufacturer championships.
"Obviously, I'm very happy," Angelelli said, "I thought this team had everything in place to be a top-three team, and to win here is good. The team did a good job in the pits and in the race strategy."
For Magnussen, the victory comes in just his second Daytona Prototype start of the season, and only his third class appearance since 2004. As he did for the Crown Royal Grand American Challenge of Long Beach last month, the Dane drove in place of owner and reigning co-champion Wayne Taylor.
"I'm so happy," Magnussen said, "The car was great from the beginning, and the race strategy worked out well for us. I had a good time out there. It was fun. Our car was great and we were able to push hard the whole time. Obviously, I've got to thank Wayne and the SunTrust team for the opportunity. Everybody did a great job."
Gurney and new co-driver Jon Fogarty came home second in the #99 machine, the performance a Rolex Series best for Fogarty in just his second start with GAINSCO/Blackhawk Racing. The runner-up result tied Gurney's best performance in the series, matching a second-place run in the CompUSA 200 at The Glen last August. The performance was all the more impressive given the fact that Fogarty and Gurney had to overcome damaged bodywork from an incident with a GT car early in the race.
"Obviously, we would have liked to have won, but this feels great," Gurney admitted, "Everything worked well today. We were able to get through traffic and overcame the incident with the GT car. Overall, it was a good day."
"It feels great," Fogarty agreed, "Laguna's a home track for me, and I had a lot of family and friends here. Unfortunately, a GT car got in the back of us and kind of messed up the balance, but it didn't disrupt it too bad. It's great to be on the podium here."
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