Date: Aug. 7, 2008
Event: Crown Royal 200 (Round 11 of 14)
Series: Daytona Prototype division of the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series
Location: Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International (2.45-mile, 11-turn road course)
Pole Winner: Brian Frisselle of AIM Autosport (1:05.243 at 135.187 mph)
SunTrust Racing: Michael Valiante, 3rd (1:06.027 at 133.582 mph)
The No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Dallara of Wayne Taylor Racing (WTR) will start on the inside of the second row in Friday night’s Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Crown Royal 200 at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International after qualifying Thursday afternoon on the 2.45-mile, 11-turn road circuit.
Michael Valiante, co-driving with Max Angelelli in the SunTrust Racing machine, clocked a fast lap of 1 minute, 6.027 seconds (133.582 mph) during the 15-minute qualifying session, good for third on the 20-car all-Daytona Prototype starting grid for Friday night’s main event. It was SunTrust’s sixth top-three qualifying result in 11 Rolex Series events this season.
“We made really good progress considering this is the first time we’ve had the Dallara here,” said Valiante, who co-drove with Angelelli to third place in June’s Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen in a WTR Riley chassis that was temporarily pressed into service after the team’s original Dallara was destroyed in a transporter fire just 19 days prior. “Qualifying went well, I think. Of course, you want to be P1. But I had a pretty good lap. Sitting third is a good place to start here because it gives you an opportunity to lead going into the first corner. The key, now, is to work on the car and have a really good race car so we’re quick for the long runs. I think we’re looking pretty good for tomorrow. The track is basically the least technical track that we go to. It’s pretty much like an oval with almost all right-hand turns. And the times are really close among most of the cars in the field. So it’s going to come down to who makes the least number of mistakes.”
The No. 61 AIM Autosport entry of Brian Frisselle and Mark Wilkins, which scored its first-ever series victory last Friday at Montreal’s Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, blazed to the pole today by more than .4 of a second over the No. 58 Brumos Porsche of David Donohue and Darren Law, which took the outside-front-row starting spot.
“I think that was a solid effort that puts us in a good position for the race tomorrow,” said team owner Wayne Taylor. “We’re the fastest of the Pontiacs, so when you’re comparing apples to apples, we’re the best of the apples. It’s going to be a fast and furious race tomorrow night, and I’m confident because I know we have the best team out there and, for sure, the best two-driver tandem.”
The top-five in qualifying were the following teams:
1. AIM Autosport (No. 61 Ford Riley) with Brian Frisselle and Mark Wilkins (1:05.243 at 135.187 mph)
2. Brumos Porsche (No. 58 Porsche Riley) with David Donohue and Darren Law (1:05.660 at 134.328 mph)
3. SunTrust Racing (No. 10 Pontiac Dallara) with Michael Valiante and Max Angelelli (1:06.027 at 133.582 mph)
4. Gainsco/Bob Stallings Racing (No. 99 Pontiac Riley) with Jon Fogarty and Alex Gurney (1:06.163 at 133.307 mph)
5. Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates (No. 01 Lexus Riley) with Memo Rojas and Scott Pruett (1:06.219 at 133.194 mph)
Race time Friday is 6:30 p.m. EDT with SPEED-TV’s delayed coverage of the 200-mile (or 2-hour) event set for 8 p.m. Complete results from all on-track sessions, as well as live timing and scoring during the race, can be found at www.grand-am.com.