August 22, 2008

Valiante Earns Third Grand-Am Rolex Series Daytona Prototype Pole
Armed Forces 250 at Infineon Raceway

Date: August 22, 2008
Event: Armed Forces 250 (Round 12 of 14)
Series: Daytona Prototype division of the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series
Location: Infineon Raceway, Sonoma, Calif. (2.52-mile, 12-turn road course)
Pole Winner: Michael Valiante of SunTrust Racing (1:25.957 at 103.447mph)

The No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Dallara of Wayne Taylor Racing (WTR) will start on the pole for a series-high fourth time this season after qualifying Friday at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., for Saturday’s Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Armed Forces 250.

Valiante, co-driving with Max Angelelli in the SunTrust Racing machine, toured the 2.52-mile, 12-turn circuit in 1 minute, 25.957 seconds (103.447 mph) to clinch a front-row starting spot for the fifth time this season. That lap was actually surpassed during the 15-minute qualifying session by the No. 61 AIM Autosport entry of Brian Frisselle and Mark Wilkins, winners of the past two events at Montreal’s Circuit Gilles Villeneuve and Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International. But the No. 61 car was one of two entries that failed to pass post-qualifying inspection Friday and was moved to the back of the field, putting the SunTrust car on the pole. The No. 61 car was judged to be too wide during inspection.

“It was unfortunate for the 61, and I feel bad for their guys,” said Valiante, who qualified on the pole earlier this season at Virginia International Raceway near Alton and at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala., and second at Homestead (Fla.) Miami Speedway to go with Angelelli’s pole position at Watkins Glen in June. “But we’ve been through our fair share of problems not of our own doing this year. So it’s good for the team and it’s a great place to start for the race tomorrow. I feel we have a really consistent car that we can win the race with, and it is certainly worthy of starting from the pole the way things have been going for us in practice and qualifying.”

The four pole positions in 2008 are the most in a single season for the SunTrust team since it joined the Rolex Series in 2004. It had three poles when Angelelli and Wayne Taylor co-drove to the 2005 series championship in the SunTrust Racing machine. The five front-row starting spots this season equals SunTrust’s five front-row starts in 2005 and surpassed only by seven front-row starting spots in 2004.

“I was surprised by how quick we went because it was a lot quicker than we went in practice,” Valiante said. “I think we have a great car for this race because it’s consistent. I think we can win this race.”

“It’s not the most pleasant way to get on the pole, but we honest-to-goodness have a really great race car here this weekend,” Taylor said. “This is the first race this year that I feel this confident. We’ve practiced well. We were wicked fast in qualifying. Both drivers are happy, which is majorly unusual, or rare. I think tomorrow’s when it all counts and I think we’ll have a good race.”

The top-five in qualifying were the following teams:

1. SunTrust Racing (No. 10 Pontiac Dallara) with Michael Valiante and Max Angelelli (1:25.957 at 103.447 mph)
2. Brumos Porsche (No. 58 Porsche Riley) with David Donohue and Darren Law (1:26.344 at 102.983 mph)
3. Gainsco/Bob Stallings Racing (No. 99 Pontiac Riley) with Jon Fogarty and Alex Gurney (1:26.790 at 102.454 mph)
4. Alex Job Racing (No. 23 Porsche Riley) with Bill Auberlen and Joey Hand (1:26.799 at 102.444 mph)
5. Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates (No. 01 Lexus Riley) with Memo Rojas and Scott Pruett (1:26.862 at 102.369 mph)

Race time Saturday is 6 p.m. EDT with SPEED-TV’s next-day delayed broadcast of the 250-mile (or 2-hour, 45-minute) event set for Sunday at noon EDT. Complete results from all on-track sessions, as well as live timing and scoring during the race, can be found at:

SunTrust Banks, Inc., headquartered in Atlanta, is one of the nation's largest banking organizations, serving a broad range of consumer, commercial, corporate and institutional clients. As of March 31, 2008, SunTrust had total assets of $179.0 billion and total deposits of $116.2 billion. The Company operates an extensive branch and ATM network throughout the high-growth Southeast and Mid-Atlantic states and a full array of technology-based, 24-hour delivery channels. The Company also serves customers in selected markets nationally. Its primary businesses include deposit, credit, trust and investment services. Through various subsidiaries the Company provides mortgage banking, insurance, brokerage, investment management, equipment leasing and capital markets services.

Back to 2008 Racing News Index »