SunTrust Racing staged one of the greatest fightbacks the Grand-Am Rolex Sportscar Series has seen by claiming a podium finish in the EMCO Gears Road Racing Classic at Mid-Ohio just hours after the #10 Riley-Pontiac blazed.

The team's engineers worked through the night to rebuild the car after a ruptured fuel line caught fire during qualifying, but Max Angelelli and Wayne Taylor still had their work cut out as the car had to start the race from 19th on the grid because of an engine change. However, the usual blend of tenacity and focus, plus a modicum of luck, helped put this team into third place by the time the chequer fell.

"This was so incredible," said an elated Taylor after stepping down from the podium, "There is only one team that could do this, and that's these guys. And, as for Max, there are not enough words to describe what he does...."

Five cautions, covering 26 of the 94 laps, helped bring about six different race leaders in the two hour and 45 minute race, but at least one saw the SunTrust car diving for the pits for more than a routine stop. The third caution came out on only the 17th lap, and owner-driver Taylor pitted, having been rear-ended while avoiding a multi-car accident at turn eight. Angelelli took over proceeded to live up to his 'Max the Ax' nickname by cutting his way through the field.

By lap 44, the Italian had risen into the top ten and another pit-stop for fuel and tyres on lap 44 for tires and fuel - again under caution - ensured that the team could finish the race with enough fuel, even under green racing conditions.

Angelelli continued to work his way to fifth overall by lap 66, and clocked the fastest lap of the race on lap 67 as he homed in on the fourth-placed Kodak Doran-Pontiac of Terry Borcheller. Eleven laps later, on lap 91, he passed the #02 New Century/Ganassi Riley for third place, securing a podium for the hard-working SunTrust backroom boys.

"They did a fantastic job - I didn't do much," Angelelli admitted, "Our goal was finishing in front of the #01 and we finished just behind them, so I didn't do anything special. The crew did something special by repairing the car and allowing us to race with a car that was better and faster than yesterday. What can I say? Here's to the guys!"

The third-place finish gave the SunTrust team 30 points towards the 2005 championship, which they continue to lead with 312 to the #01 Ganassi team's 293.

"This was really a huge team effort," said team boss Bill Riley, still able to find plaudits for his men despite also going on for nearly 40 hours without sleep, "It's really more of a team than anything because I don't really feel like I had a lot involved in it. The crew guys just took over doing what we needed to do, and I didn't really have to do anything because they knew what to do.

"Wayne then kept it out of trouble [at the start] and Max took it from a bad track position - because of the small accident that we had - and slowly baled it back up. A lot of the success goes to the real team effort this weekend."

 

Comments

Loading Comments...