Sunday
Apr292007

GRAND AM NEWS: Angelelli and Magnussen Take Over Daytona Prototype Points Lead with Win in VIR 400

Photo by John Thawley ALTON, Va. (April 29, 2007) – Continuing a run of top finishes that stretches back for nearly a full year, No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley co-drivers Max Angelelli and Jan Magnussen took over the 2007 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve Daytona Prototype points lead with their first victory of the season in the VIR 400 at Virginia International Raceway.

Angelelli, the 2005 Daytona Prototype co-champion, took the lead from 2004 Daytona Prototype co-champion Max Papis in Turn 1 with 25 laps remaining and was never seriously challenged over the closing laps en route to a 3.567-second victory over Papis and his No. 75 Krohn Racing Pontiac Riley co-driver Colin Braun. The victory by Angelelli and Magnussen, coupled with an eighth-place performance by No. 01 TELMEX Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley teammates Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas, vaulted the No. 10 teammates to an 11-point lead, 127-116, over Pruett with four of 14 races now in the books.

“It’s a fantastic feeling,” Angelelli said. “We’ve been always good at this track, but this year is different, with so many different people involved. Up until this morning, we had a terrible car, and luckily we turned everything around and had a good race.”

Angelelli—who led the final 25 laps—and Magnussen combined to lead 27 laps on their way to their first win since last May at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. It was the 10th overall victory of Angelelli’s career and the fourth for Magnussen, but it was the first triumph for Wayne Taylor Racing, which formed at the conclusion of the 2006 season. As Magnussen will not compete in the upcoming U.S. Sports Car Invitational Delivered by Luggage Express at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on May 20, Angelelli effectively takes over sole possession of the Daytona Prototype points lead. Angelelli and Magnussen have finished inside the top five in their last 11 races as co-drivers.

“I’d like to say how happy I am for the whole team,” Magnussen said. “It’s been hard work to set up the team for Wayne and Max, and everybody involved, so to get this win was great. We had a shot at getting a win earlier this year, and have been fighting for it every time, so to get it here was good. I have to say that after yesterday in qualifying I didn’t think we were going to have a race-winning car. We had some problems all through practice and qualifying, which we sorted out during qualifying this morning luckily. The warm-up was great, and in the race we had a great race car.”

Papis and Braun picked up their second runner-up trophy in three races with their second-place performance today. The duo also finished second in the Mexico City 400k last month. After starting from the pole position, Braun led all drivers with 34 laps led, while Papis headed the field for six laps before giving way to Angelelli. The result moved the No. 75 co-drivers just behind Pruett in the championship standings. With 107 points, they trail Pruett by nine points and are 20 in arrears of Angelelli and Magnussen.

“It feels great,” Braun said. “The whole team did a great job this weekend. We started with a car that wasn’t great, but Max went out there and made it a great car. We focused on a car that wasn’t so hard on the tires and would be quick at the end, and I think we did that job pretty well. Nothing big happened during the first stint. I just went out and cruised and tried to save the tires and fuel. I came in and handed it over to Max, and I think he did a great job. It’s so tough, it’s so tight, and it’s such close racing that we have. I think we’re going to go to the next one and be even stronger. We’re going to go testing, and hopefully come out the next time and challenge for the win.”

“I got the lead car from Colin, and we knew it was going to be a short stint and I had to be as fast as possible,” Papis added. “It was good for the first couple of laps and after that, it became difficult to keep up the pace. We were quite loose, and it was quite difficult to hold the car, especially turning in. We were struggling a little bit, and I was trying to hold my pace the best I could. When I saw Angelelli try to make his move, I tried to make it a little more difficult, but I knew once he found his way through, it would be difficult to match his pace. I tried to keep pressure on him. Hats off to them; I think the No. 10 car was a little bit better today. Colin did an awesome job and the entire team did an awesome job. It’s hard to finish second, but finishing second behind these great drivers, it makes for a pretty good day.”

Capping an emotional weekend following the death of Brumos Racing President and CEO Bob Snodgrass on Tuesday evening, No. 58 Red Bull/Brumos Racing Porsche Riley co-drivers Darren Law and David Donohue finished third when the No. 11 South Coast Fish Company/CITGO Pontiac Riley being driven by Ryan Dalziel sputtered on the final lap. It was the first podium result for Brumos Racing since the No. 58 team of Donohue and Mike Borkowski finished third in the 2003 Rolex Series season finale at Daytona International Speedway.

“It’s been a tough weekend for everybody,” Law said. “We’re really proud of the team. They’ve done a great job. We were up late last night working on the car. I’ve already said that it’s great to have a podium, but it’s even more special this weekend because of what’s happened to Bob. There were a lot of happy people today.”

“As far as on-track today, my racing was truly boring,” Donohue contributed. “I was going after the No. 11 car the entire time, and he ran out of gas on the last lap, which is how we got third place. I mean, I really didn’t have much for him. He could get me off the corners and I could get him off braking, and we were about even at different places on the track. I was trying to maximize where we were strong and get a run on him under braking, but we just had to come from too far back. As Darren said, we’re all overjoyed. Those guys were up until two or three in the morning fixing the car, and to give us a podium car is pretty nice. That kind of effort isn’t unique to this weekend. The guys have been putting that kind of effort in for the last four years, and it’s nice to see them rewarded with a podium, especially since Bob passed.”

Despite running out of fuel on the final lap, Dalziel and his No. 11 co-driver, Jean-Francois Dumoulin, wound up fourth. It was Dalziel’s second top-four result in two 2007 Rolex Series starts following a second-place run in the Rolex 24 At Daytona to open the season. The performance also moved the No. 11 SAMAX team to third in the team championship, despite the fact that full-time driver Patrick Carpentier sat out the VIR 400 due to a family emergency and Milka Duno has moved to the Indy Racing League IndyCar Series.

No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Pontiac Riley co-drivers Jon Fogarty and Alex Gurney battled their way back to a fifth-place result. After starting second, Fogarty took the lead from Braun on the second lap and led through Lap 7, just after making contact with the No. 05 Luggage Express Team Sigalsport BMW Riley of Matthew Alhadeff. Fogarty later damaged the right front bodywork and headlight with a slight off-course excursion and a trip into the tire barrier at Turn 11.

It was also an eventful day for Rojas and Pruett. Rojas emerged from the first round of pit stops under full-course caution with the lead on Lap 8, but lost the lead two laps later and spun off-course in Turn 1shortly thereafter. He turned the car over to Pruett, who also spun in Turn 4 on Lap 24 and battled back to finish eighth. Nevertheless, it is the first time this season that Pruett has not held at least a share of the Daytona Prototype points lead.

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