Taylor Gets Sixth Pole In Row
When it comes to qualifying for poles in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series, Ricky Taylor has become automatic.
Taylor’s SunTrust Chevrolet Dallara of Wayne Taylor Racing on Friday won the pole for Saturday night’s Canadian Tire 200 at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International. It was Taylor’s sixth straight pole.
Taylor, the recently turned 22-year-old co-driver to veteran Italian Max Angelelli, earned the pole with a lap of 1 minute, 5.962 seconds (133.713 mph) around the 2.45-mile, 11-turn NASCAR road course. It was fastest among 33 car-and-driver combinations that will take the green flag for Saturday night’s two-hour event.
“It was kind of drizzling earlier and I was saying to the guys that I wouldn’t be too upset if it just started pouring rain right now and we took our qualifying based on points and we started second,” said Taylor, who with Angelelli could manage no better than the ninth-fastest laps in each of today’s two morning practice sessions. “I knew the car would be improved after Max drove it in practice this morning and made some changes. The only different variable in qualifying was the NASCAR rubber. That qualifying was like 10 crashes every lap. It was pretty wild and I just can’t say enough about our Chevy power and our SunTrust team. Awesome.”
Taylor can tie Jon Fogarty’s series qualifying record of seven consecutive poles next week at the Montreal 200 on the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. Fogarty qualified on the pole for seven races in a row and nine altogether during his 2007 Rolex Series championship season alongside Alex Gurney in the No. 99 Gainsco/Bob Stallings Racing Chevrolet Riley.
Memo Rojas grabbed the outside-front-row starting spot in the No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates BMW Riley today while Fogarty qualified third.
“I didn’t think we had it today because all five poles that Ricky’s had to this point, he’d told me at some point in the weekend, ‘Don’t worry, Dad, the car’s good,’” said team owner Wayne Taylor, who co-drove with Angelelli to a pair of victories in late-summer sprint races at Watkins Glen en route to the Rolex Series championship for SunTrust Racing in 2005. “Today, when I asked him, all he could say was, ‘I don’t know, Dad. I’m not sure.’ I knew the guys would put a good set-up on the car and we knew that Ricky would haul it around, and he did. Yet again, the SunTrust team rose to the top. The car was not so good when we rolled it off the truck. Max did a lot of work to make sure the set-up was right, and gave it to Ricky and he did what he had to do.”
In GT, Robin Liddell qualified his No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports Camaro GT.R on the pole of the Grand Touring (GT) class with a lap of 1:14:179 (118.902 mph).
“We had a good pace this morning,” Liddell said. “We were quickest this morning, so I was fairly confident we could get the pole.
“We’re not worried about points, we’re just going for race wins, and, it looks like we’ve got a strong car.”
While the 15-minute DP session went smoothly, a pair of black flags for separateincidents limited GT competitors to only two or three laps.
Liddell posted his best speed early in the session with a lap of 1:14.179 (118.901 mph) in the No. 57 Stevenson Auto Group ChevroletCamaro co-driven by Jan Magnussen, and it stood up for the pole.
J.P. Mauro, running in his first Rolex Series race in the No. 30 Racers Edge Motorsports Mazda RX-8, crashed near the entrance to the Inner Loop to bring out the first black flag. When the green flag waved with five minutes remaining, Logano went to the top with a lap of 1:14.112 (119.009 mph) in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Corvette co-driven by Boris Said.
But when Logano crashed in Turn 5 on the following lap – bringing out a session-ending black flag – his fastest lap was disallowed per Grand-Am rules.
Logano ran a lap of 1:14.541 (118.324 mph),which was second-fastest in the session, but that was negated when the team switched cars.
“My first lap was a wee bit conservative, but it was good enough for the pole at the time,”said Liddell, who has two poles this season in addition to two for teammate Magnussen. “I thought I would go faster after the black flag, but I got held up by another car. I took the pole bydefault, but we’ll take it.”
The top-five in qualifying were the following teams:
1. SunTrust Racing (No. 10 Chevrolet Dallara) with Ricky Taylor and Max Angelelli (1:05.962 at 133.713 mph)
2. Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates (No. 01 BMW Riley) with Memo Rojas and Scott Pruett (1:06.182 at 133.269 mph)
3. Gainsco/Bob Stallings Racing (No. 99 Chevrolet Riley) with Jon Fogarty and Alex Gurney (1:06.307 at 133.018 mph)
4. Spirit of Daytona Racing (No. 90 Chevrolet Coyote) with Paul Edwards and Antonio Garcia (1:06.657 at 132.319 mph)
5. Action Express Racing (No. 5 Porsche Riley) with David Donohue and Darren Law (1:06.744 at 132.147 mph)No Comment