Date: March 28, 2008
Event: Gainsco Grand Prix of Miami
Series: Daytona Prototype division of the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series
Location: Homestead (Fla.) Miami Speedway (2.3-mile, 11-turn road course)
Pole Winner: David Donohue of Brumos Racing (1:13.022 at 113.390 mph)
The historic Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series race debut of the all-new No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Dallara prototype of Wayne Taylor Racing will start from the front row after qualifying Friday afternoon for Saturday’s Gainsco Grand Prix of Miami at Homestead (Fla.) Miami Speedway.
Michael Valiante, who will start Saturday’s 250-mile (or 2-hour, 45-minute) race from second on the grid and will share the driving duties with veteran Max Angelelli, clocked a fast lap of 1 minute, 13.305 seconds (112.953 mph) around the 2.3-mile, 11-turn Homestead road circuit during today’s 15-minute qualifying session, a mark eclipsed only by the pole-qualifying effort of 1:13.022 (113.390 mph) by David Donohue in the Brumos Porsche. A total of 45 cars will roll off the starting grid, including 19 Daytona Prototype-class entries. In addition to the all-new chassis from legendary manufacturer Dallara Automobili Spa of Parma, Italy, the SunTrust Racing team is also debuting a bold, new orange- and tangerine-colored paint scheme based on SunTrust’s corporate logo and signature sunrays.
“This is really something,” said Valiante, who made his first start with the SunTrust team at the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona where, with Angelelli, Wayne Taylor and Ricky Taylor, he helped bring home a top-five finish in the team’s last of 53 races campaigning a Riley chassis. “Definitely, any time you switch to a new car, it’s a huge challenge, especially when you show up for your first race with maybe 100 laps on the car. The team has done a phenomenal job, working almost 24-hour days, sometimes, just to make this race and to make this happen. A lot of resources have gone into this from a lot of different places, and it’s just an example of why this SunTrust Racing organization is as successful as it is. The race will be a bit of an unknown because we haven’t run the car that long at one time. Coming into this weekend, we haven’t been focusing on speed as much as we have focused on reliability and a lot of those little things that can pop up that we may not find until we run the car for an hour, or an hour and 45 minutes. The engineers and the mechanics have been working hard to isolate those problems before they come up. That will be our biggest challenge tomorrow. It’s a new car and we’re still very much learning about what it can do for us. So far, so good.”
“I’ll tell you the truth – I never had a doubt that we could get this kind of a result,” said Angelelli, who won the 2005 Homestead race with Wayne Taylor en route to that year’s Rolex Series championship and finished second here last year after starting from the pole co-driving with Jan Magnussen. “I’ll admit that today’s result matched my expectations, exactly. For tomorrow, as usual, we will run the race flat out. What should we do differently other than what we’ve always done? We need to win, so we need to run flat out. We’ll get an indication of how strong this new car is tomorrow afternoon. I can’t wait.”
“We’re pretty happy to be on the front row, although the pole would have been a lot better,” Wayne Taylor said. “But given the short amount of time we’ve had to build this car and everything, I think it’s a pretty good result. Michael has done a great job, as has Max, and Dallara, of course. More importantly, every one of the guys on this team has been working day and night to get this car ready. Not only is it a brand new car, but this is a whole new design. I’m really happy, especially for all of our partners – SunTrust, Toshiba, Miracle Sealants, Pontiac. Everyone takes ownership in this. We only come here to win races and to try to win championships. We have to just continue to do that tomorrow. We have to think that way.”
The top-five in qualifying were the following teams:
1. Brumos Racing (No. 58 Porsche Riley) with David Donohue and Darren Law (1:13.022 at 113.390 mph)
2. SunTrust Racing (No. 10 Pontiac Dallara) with Michael Valiante and Max Angelelli (1:13.305 at 112.953 mph)
3. Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates (No. 01 Lexus Riley) with Memo Rojas and Scott Pruett (1:13.399 at 112.808 mph)
4. AIM Autosport (No. 61 Ford Riley) with Mark Wilkins and Brian Frisselle (1:13.614 at 112.479 mph)
5. Bob Stallings/Riley-Matthews (No. 99 Pontiac Riley) with Jon Fogarty and Alex Gurney (1:13.625 at 112.462 mph)
Final practice is set for 10 a.m. EDT Saturday. Race time is 3 p.m. with SPEED-TV’s same-day delayed broadcast beginning at 6 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.