Mid-Ohio: SunTrust Racing qualifying report
SunTrust Racing: Second with Ricky Taylor (1:17.530 at 104.847 mph) The No. 10 SunTrust Ford Dallara of Wayne Taylor Racing will start Saturday's GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series EMCO Gears Classic from the outside of the front row after a ...
SunTrust Racing: Second with Ricky Taylor (1:17.530 at 104.847 mph)
The No. 10 SunTrust Ford Dallara of Wayne Taylor Racing will start Saturday's GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series EMCO Gears Classic from the outside of the front row after a thrilling qualifying session Friday afternoon at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington.
Ricky Taylor, the 20-year-old co-driver to veteran Max Angelelli in the No. 10 SunTrust Ford Dallara of Wayne Taylor Racing, had the pole in his grasp until the very last moments of today's 15-minute qualifying session. Memo Rojas, co-driver with Scott Pruett in the No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates BMW Riley, beat Taylor's track-record lap by a mere seven-thousandths of a second to earn his second pole of the season, his team's third, and the sixth pole of his career. Taylor's lap around the 2.258-mile, 13-turn road circuit located right between Columbus and Cleveland clocked in at 1 minute, 17.530 seconds (104.847 mph) to equal SunTrust's best qualifying effort in seven events since joining the Rolex Series in 2004. Rojas, who also won the pole and co-drove with Pruett to one of his four victories already this season at Virginia International Raceway in Alton on April 24, turned a fast qualifying lap of 1:17.523 (104.857 mph).
"Looking back at last year's qualifying, everybody does their lap times right at the end, and I could feel the car really starting to come in," said Taylor, who scored his first career pole April 9 at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala., and whose 19-year-old brother Jordan Taylor scored the GT-class pole today for the third time this season in the No. 30 Racers Edge Mazda. "That last lap, they were telling me on the radio that Rojas just got me by seven-thousandths of a second. I think I pushed just a little too hard and I made a little mistake in the next-to-last corner. Otherwise, I think I had a chance to beat him. But there is no such thing as a perfect lap, and when you need to find just a little more speed, it's especially tough at a place like Mid-Ohio because these Daytona Prototypes are so competitive and, really, any car can be on the pole any given weekend. Still, the SunTrust team has given me a great car every time, and I'm just looking forward to the race. This is one of those tracks where either the inside or the outside can work out at the start. You can get a good run around the outside and be on the inside for turn two, so I don't mind starting on the outside."
Taylor and Rojas were the fastest two cars in the session by far. The next-closest competitor -- the No. 61 AIM Autosport Ford Riley of Burt Frisselle and Mark Wilkins, clocked the third-fastest lap four-tenths of a second behind Taylor at 1:17.911 (104.334 mph). A total of 28 car-and-driver combinations will take the green flag for Saturday's 2-hour, 45-minute race.
"You always want the pole, but Ricky did a great job, and the team did a great job, as usual," said team owner Wayne Taylor, who qualified the SunTrust car second on the grid at Mid-Ohio in its first visit here back in 2004. "Ricky was quick, basically, out of the box today. We've had a good car. Man, I wanted P1! But this equals the best qualifying result we've ever had here, and it's the result of all the work the guys have been putting in, nonstop, for so very long, and it's really starting to pay off. Ricky's really taken to these tight, technical types of tracks, like we saw at Barber. I think he's gotten to that level now where he can compete against the best every single weekend. His confidence is really showing. I'm hopeful we can keep our string of strong results going tomorrow."