SunTrust Racing takes pole just 18 days after fire destroys team's primary car, equipment
Max Angelelli ran a record lap in qualifying Friday at Watkins Glen International to capture the pole position for Saturday's Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16, only 18 days after a transporter fire destroyed its primary race car and equipment.
Angelelli broke his own track record with a lap of 1:42.888 (118.964 mph) in the No. 10 SunTrust Racing Pontiac Riley in the abbreviated session, cut short from 15 minutes to five minutes. The race will take the green flag at 11:11 a.m. Saturday, with SPEED televising the event live from 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. to the checkered flag.
For Angelelli, it was a moral victory for entire team, which lost its Dallara racing car, equipment and spares May 19 in a transporter fire while returning from the most recent Daytona Prototype race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Angelelli and Michael Valiante are racing the team's Pontiac Riley, which it last used in a fifth-place finish in the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona.
Team owner Wayne Taylor acknowledged the assistance of rival teams, including TELMEX Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, who loaned a hauler, equipment and spares. It was the second pole of the season for the team, which also won the pole at Virginia International Raceway with Valiante at the wheel.
Second in the abbreviated Daytona Prototype session was Brian Frisselle, with a lap of 1:43.005 (118.829 mph), in the No. 61 AIM Autosport Exchange Traded Gold Ford Riley.
The session was shortened when the No. 76 Krohn Racing Pontiac Lola of Ricardo Zonta hit the tire barrier. Several Daytona Prototype contenders, including defending event winner and 2007 champion Alex Gurney, current point leader Scott Pruett and Daytona Rolex 24 pole winner Oswaldo Negri had yet to post a lap at speed.
Third fastest was Memo Gidley, followed by David Donohue and Ian James.
Jeff Segal earns first career Rolex Series GT pole
In GT qualifying, Jeff Segal became the seventh different class pole winner in as many events in 2008. He ran a lap of 1:52.329 (108.966 mph), in the No. 69 SpeedSource FXDD Mazda RX-8 he co-drives with Emil Assentato and Nick Longhi.
The top seven drivers broke Paul Edwards' year-old track record of 1:53.823, 107.535 mph. Edwards was second with a lap of 1:52.850 (108.463 mph) in the No. 07 Banner Racing Pontiac GXP.R he co-drives with Kelly Collins.
Rounding out the top five were Wolf Henzler, Sylvain Tremblay and Diego Alessi.
FAST FACTS (POST-QUALIFYING, PRE-RACE)
- This is the first pole position of the season for Max Angelelli (1:42.888; 118.964 mph) and the second for the No. 10 SunTrust Racing machine. Angelelli broke his own track record, set four years ago at 1:43.602.
- The team's other pole position came at Virginia International Raceway, with Angelelli's co-driver Michael Valiante scoring the pole. Valiante earned the pole in the team's Pontiac Dallara, which was destroyed in a highway fire returning from last month's RumBum.com 250 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
- Brian Frisselle's (1:43.005; 118.829 mph) outside front row starting spot marks the No. 61 AIM Autosport Exchange Traded Gold Ford Riley's third front row start of the season. Frisselle previously sat second in qualifying for the Mexico City 250, while co-driver Mark Wilkins was credited with the second starting position at VIR.
- This is Pontiac's second Daytona Prototype pole position of the season, tying the manufacturer with Porsche for most Daytona Prototype poles this season. Lexus and Ford each have one pole this season.
- Memo Gidley in the No. 77 Kodak Ford Dallara was third quickest in qualifying (1:43.055; 118.772 mph) and final driver to eclipse the previous track record. This marks the best starting position of the season for Gidley and his co-driver, Brad Jaeger. Ford's third car in the top five, the
No. 6 Michael Shank Racing Ford Riley, was driven by Ian James to fifth.
- David Donohue, the only driver this season with two Daytona Prototype pole positions, was fourth fastest (1:43.750; 117.976 mph).
- The last team to win a Daytona Prototype race from the pole was the No. 99 Pontiac Riley (Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty) in August 2007 (Infineon Raceway). This season, the top starting position to win a race was third (TELMEX Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates).
- This is Jeff Segal's first career Rolex Series GT pole (1:52.329; 108.966 mph) and the first for the No. 69 SpeedSource FXDD Mazda RX-8 this season. The team's sister car, the No. 70 Mazda RX-8, has started from the pole twice this season, both qualified by different drivers.
- Segal is the seventh driver this season to capture a Rolex Series GT pole. Teammate Sylvain Tremblay (Rolex 24 At Daytona), Kelly Collins (GAINSCO Grand Prix of Miami), Pierre Kaffer (Mexico City 250), Dominik Farnbacher (VIR), Nick Ham (Laguna Seca) and Tim Lewis Jr. (Lime Rock) have also won pole positions.
- This is Mazda's third Rolex Series GT pole of the season, the most of any brand this season. Pontiac and Porsche each have two pole positions in 2008.
- This is the first front row start of the season for Paul Edwards in the No. 07 Banner Racing Banner Engineering Pontiac GXP.R, though his co-driver Kelly Collins has scored a pole this season. Edwards took the Pontiac GXP.R to second (1:52.850; 108.463 mph).
POST QUALIFYING QUOTES
Max Angelelli (No. 10 SunTrust Racing Pontiac Riley): "My first thought is about the team and about all of our guys. I quite frankly didn't do much. All of the guys did everything. We lost everything just 18 days ago. Look at what they did in that time. They put everything together. I want to thank all of the people outside the team who did so much to help us like Ganassi and Penske and all of our technical partners. This is amazing and this is what they deserve. I want to give them a good race tomorrow. We were all screaming. We were all so happy. The entire SunTrust Racing team, I believe, is the best in the paddock.
Brian Frisselle (No. 61 AIM Autosport Exchange Traded Gold Ford Riley): "It's too bad that the session didn't run full, because some guys didn't get their fast laps in. I felt we had a car to go for the pole straight-up. It was a good qualifying session for us, because we were able to get a quick time on our first rolling lap. I think we've got a good chance in the race. We've had good chances all year; we just haven't sealed the deal. Now, it's time to finish the job."
Jeff Segal (No. 69 SpeedSource FXDD Mazda RX-8): "The key was having a good car. The guys have been working hard all year to get the No. 69 car up to the front. We've shown flashes of brilliance here and there, but the car has been good from the time we've unloaded it this year. I'm just clicking off and feeling comfortable. The team has put a good car under me. I think we're in great shape for the race."
Paul Edwards (No. 07 Banner Racing Banner Engineering Pontiac GXP.R): "We made big, bold changes just before qualifying. They changed the springs, the wing and the shocks. I felt good driving it, even on the absolute edge. Another key was going out second. I was able to have a perfectly clear track and get the most out of the tires."