On a weekend that saw the #10 SunTrust Pontiac Dallara team of Wayne Taylor Racing rebound from a horrendous crash in Mexico City to win the pole and lead the opening laps of the Bosch Engineering 250 at Virginia International Raceway, the problems continued for the team with another incident in the fourth round of the Grand Am season.

For the third time in as many races, the #10, with Michael Valiante behind the wheel, was hit from behind and sent off the track. This time, the culprit was the eventual race-winning #01 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates entry and the handiwork of driver Memo Rojas.

On the 29th lap, Rojas made an aggressive attempt to take second place away from Valiante at the end of the long backstraight entering a right-left sequence of turns known as 'Oak Tree'.

"Rojas tried to pass on the outside, and I was on the inside," said Valiante. "We went into the second corner and he wasn't past. He just kept his foot in it, and I was right there. I tried to give him room. He hit me once. I slid wide but I saved it. He hit me again and I saved that, too. Then he hit me a third time and spun me out. I came in right away and wasn't sure how badly it was damaged. It was fine before that. Our biggest problem was keeping the tyres on it. I think we had a podium car."

After a lengthy attempt to get the SunTrust car back on track from the slick, grassy infield, Valiante pitted to turn the car over to co-driver Max Angelelli. He resumed one lap down in 17th position but by lap 67, he worked his way up to ninth and appeared content to bring home the team's first top-ten finish since placing fifth at the season-opening Rolex 24 at Daytona.

However, just four laps from the finish, Angelelli felt something give way in the rear of the car and coasted into the pits where the team found a left-rear suspension piece had broken, the precise point of impact where Rojas had smacked Valiante for a third time back on lap 29.

"Once again, we have been taken out from behind," Angelelli said. "I really have nothing else to say. This has to stop."

Team boss Wayne Taylor admitted he was disappointed to see his car taken out of contention for the third straight race, especially when Valiante and Angelelli had been well placed for a strong run.

"I'm disgusted to be taken out three races in a row," he said. "Irrespective of who's right or wrong, the facts are that we got taken out three races in a row, from the back all three times. We had, yet again, another good car - definitely a car that could have won the race. We had the pole. Michael led.

"We had everything, all the support from everybody - SunTrust, Toshiba, Pontiac, everybody. It totally could have been avoided today. We seem to come out on the short end of the stick because the car that put us out today went on to win the race. That's not right."

 

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