Max Angelelli and Ricky Taylor were back in familiar territory Friday after a highly eventful inaugural Brickyard Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway ended with the No. 10 SunTrust Corvette Dallara DP of Wayne Taylor Racing driving duo’s first podium finish in their last five GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series events.
Ah, the sweet smell of post-race champagne was most welcome by the SunTrust team after ending a totally uncharacteristic string of four consecutive DNFs (did not finish) with a resounding third-place finish in the first Rolex Series event ever held at the world’s most tradition-rich racing facility.
The single-day event began with the veteran Angelelli qualifying the SunTrust Corvette – which featured a one-off blue-and-white paint scheme for the occasion – on the front row for the fourth time this season. He maintained his position at the front of the field in wet conditions courtesy of a brief but potent rain shower that passed through just prior to the start of the race, and he led 10 laps before turning things over to the 22-year-old Taylor with an hour and 10 minutes remaining in today’s three-hour event.
Taylor then bided his time before creeping his way back toward the front of the field – passing NASCAR regular Juan Pablo Montoya for third place with 22 minutes to go, then putting a stellar move on Ryan Dalziel one lap later for second place.
Then, on the day’s final restart with less than eight minutes remaining, Taylor made an all-out attempt to catch race leader Sebastien Bourdais. But he got into some wet pavement just off the racing line along the way, which allowed two-time-defending series champion Scott Pruett get by to snatch away second place.
Taylor held onto the final podium spot – the SunTrust team’s third of the season to go with back-to-back wins at Homestead-Miami Speedway and New Jersey Motorsports Park in Millville in April and May, respectively – while Bourdais, driving the powerful No. 2 Starworks Motorsport Ford Riley, went on to his first career Rolex Series win and Pruett finished second in the No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates BMW Riley.
“It was great to finally come to Indy and actually get to race here,” Taylor said. “It was just a great day with the whole atmosphere. The feeling of racing at Indy is really special for me. The race was very rough. We didn’t have very much for the 2 car there, at the end, at least under green-flag conditions. We’re not really in the championship right now so, on the restart, being here at Indy for the first race with the Corvette celebrating its 60th anniversary, I just had to go for it and just pushed a little too hard. I got into the water there and slid a little bit off track. Otherwise, it was a great day. I’m really happy to finally have a podium result after the bad races we’ve been having.”
Angelelli clocked the race’s fastest lap until Bourdais finally laid down a faster one just seven laps from the finish in what emerged as the car to beat on this day. And he had the unenviable task of racing in conditions that flip-flopped from full wet at the start to full dry by the 30-minute mark, then back to full wet at the one-hour mark, then back to full dry by the time he stopped at the one-hour, 50-minute mark to hand the SunTrust car over to Taylor. All the while, the veteran Italian didn’t put a wheel off.
“It was very crazy,” Angelelli said. “It was very exciting for me as a driver inside, driving the car. It was beautiful because of so many changes (in the conditions). I really enjoyed today here in Indy. The rain, the sun and then back to rain – I really enjoyed it. It was a positive race for our Corvette. It was fast, it was very consistent, and I’m very happy with the result.”
With the podium finish, the SunTrust team remained 35 points behind the first-place Ganassi Racing duo of Pruett and Memo Rojas in the Rolex Series standings with four races left on the schedule.
“This is all thanks to an incredible relationship we have with all of our partners,” team owner Wayne Taylor said. “All the guys on this team and both our drivers, everybody was just so good today. There was so much going on, so many different times today. I was very happy to get our SunTrust Corvette in a position to win and to end up on the podium. I think we finally got whatever it was off our back. I think Max had one of the best performances I’ve ever seen him have. Ricky is back. His confidence is right back where it needs to be. We got on the podium and I look forward to going to the next one.”
After taking next weekend off, the Rolex Series rejoins the NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series competitors at the annual Continental Tire 200 Saturday, Aug. 11, at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International. The two-hour sprint race on The Glen’s 2.45-mile, 11-turn NASCAR short circuit gets underway at 6 p.m. EDT with live television provided by SPEED. Live radio coverage by the Motor Racing Network (MRN) and SiriusXM Channel 117 begins with pre-race coverage at 5:45 p.m.