TEAM NEWS: SunTrust Racing Friday report

Photo by John Thawley For the second race in a row, the SunTrust Racing driving duo of Max Angelelli and Jonathan Cochet will start Saturday's Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series EMCO Gears Classic from the outside of the second row after practice and qualifying Friday at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio.

Cochet, the French veteran sports car racer and former Formula 1 test driver who first joined the SunTrust team for a podium finish two weeks ago at Watkins Glen, N.Y., drove the No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley of Wayne Taylor Racing to a fast lap of 1 minute, 19.191 seconds (an average of 102.648 mph) around the scenic 2.258-mile Mid-Ohio circuit, good for fourth-fastest among 19 car-and-driver combinations set to start Saturday's late-afternoon, 400-kilometer all-Daytona Prototype sprint race. The qualifying result did not come without its share of drama for the team, as Thursday's promotor's test day here ended with the Angelelli and the SunTrust car getting caught up in a six-car accident brought on by a sudden burst of rain. The team worked until nearly midnight Thursday to rebuild the rear end of the car as it was significantly damaged in the crash. Angelelli and the other five drivers were unhurt.

The No. 99 Gainsco/Bob Stallings Racing Pontiac Riley of Jon Fogarty and Alex Gurney, winner of the Watkins Glen round two weeks ago, continued its torrid qualifying pace by capturing the pole for the fourth time and a front-row starting spot for the seventh time in seven events this season. The No. 39 Cheever Racing Porsche Fabcar of Christian Fittipaldi and Harrison Brix, which also suffered considerable damage in Thursday's multi-car crash, grabbed the outside-front-row starting spot, while the No. 58 Red Bull/Brumos Porsche Riley of Darren Law and David Donohue qualified third. The No. 01 Telmex Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Lexus Riley of series points leader Scott Pruett and co-driver Memo Rojas rounded out the top five, one spot behind the SunTrust team. Pruett currently holds a seven-point lead over Angelelli at the top of the driver standings, while Ganassi holds a 12-point advantage over SunTrust in the team championship.

"Everything is more comfortable this weekend," said Cochet, who will start Saturday's race as required of the qualifying driver and then hand the SunTrust car over to Angelelli for the mandatory driver change. "I didn't have to learn the car and the circuit here (like at Watkins Glen). With Max, we worked quite well yesterday and today. The team did a good job rebuilding the car very nicely after we had a (crash) yesterday. I was able to make some really good lap times in practice and qualifying today. It will be cool to start the race. It's like qualifying, where you have to be fast. To start the race, you have to be fast and not make any mistakes. What I want is to give the car to Max in a good position and in good condition, too. He will finish the race and push hard to the end."

"I am very happy," Angelelli said. "Jonathan delivered fantastic results. We are on the second row and under the circumstances, we couldn't have asked for more than that. We have a good car for the race. We had fewer problems than the last three (race) weekends in practice and qualifying, except for the crash (in testing) that we had yesterday. So I think we will be just fine for the race. I'm looking forward to it."

"I thought the team did an amazing job getting us back," Taylor said. "It was a very tough situation, but this team is a championship team. They got the car back in order. I was very impressed with Jonathan. It's hard to come into a series with a team as competitive as this one. It's so competitive, and for him to put us on the second row was very impressive. I was very happy. Now, we need to win the race."

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