DAYTONA BEACH -- Max Angelelli in his SunTrust Racing Ford will lead the field to the green flag on Saturday for the 48th Annual GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series race.
Angelelli posted the fastest qualifying time during Thursday’s qualifying session by taking his No. 10 SunTrust Racing Ford Dallara through the course in a time of 1:40.681 with the best speed of 127.293mph. This is the first time Angelelli will start from the pole for the Rolex 24 hour race at Daytona International Speedway. Today’s pole was the 11th for SunTrust Racing since it joined the Rolex Series in 2004.
“We wanted this pole. Of course, in racing, you have to make things happen, and we worked hard for this pole, preparing ourselves and the car,” said Angelilli. “There is an advantage starting up front, no matter how long the race is. It was important for all of us. For me, I can’t deny it. It’s important, the Daytona 24-hour, with all the cars, all of whom are racing at a very high level. It’s very competitive, and that makes it that much better for everybody, for SunTrust, for Dallara, for Ford, for everybody.”
The SunTrust Racing team features drivers Max Angelelli, Pedro Lamy, Wayne Taylor and Ricky Taylor.
Starting along side Angelilli during the 24 Hour race is Oswaldo Negri, driver of the No. 60 Ford Riley. Negri’s best lap was 141.100 miles per hour with the best speed of 126.766mph. Negri is teamed with Burt Frisselle, John Pew, and Mark Wilkins. Negri is looking forward to Saturday’s race and is confident in his team’s chances of a solid race.
“I’m very happy with the driver line-up that we have,” said Negri. “Besides getting along really well, all four of us, we are more or less the same size, so you’re not compromising seating comfort in the car. Mark Wilkins won a few races, so he knows how to do it. I think Burt Friselle is the most underrated guy that I know. John Pew, just watch John Pew this year - he’s going make a lot of heads turn.”
In the Michael Shank Racings No. 6 Ford Riley, Michael Valiente posted the third fastest time of the session with a 1:41.110 at 126.753mph.
“I’m not sure if we were quick enough to go for the pole today, but starting from third is fine. I’ll be on the inside for turn one and I prefer that anyway, so I think we will be all set for the race,” said Valiante. “We only made small changes to improve the car, and still have a few things to work on but this car is very good. Both these cars are here to help each other go faster, and today was a good example of that. You want to be in a good position at the start of course but it’s not too important. We started from last place last year, and were in the lead a few hours after the start so we know it’s all about what happens in the race. ”
Micheal Valiante’s co-drivers in the No. 6 Ford Riley are Mark Patterson, A.J. Allmendinger and Brian Frisselle.
“I’m really happy-we wanted to get both cars into the top-five, and we did that. I’m happy for Ozz to be up front and Michael will also be right there at the start,” said team owner Mike Shank. “The day has gone exactly to plan and this weekend is off to a great start. Michael got a little balked on his last go-around, so he wasn’t able to make the most of the lap. But we are very happy to take 2-3 on the grid. It was a great effort from the entire team today, and now we will just focus on our race planning.”
The 48th Annual GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series race begins on Saturday, January 30 at 3:30 p.m. (ET)