Pontiac Daytona Prototype Fastest In First Practice

01.09.2006: Pontiac Daytona Prototype Fastest In First Practice

Max Angelelli Posts Fastest Time In First Day of Practice at new Miller Motorsports Park; Andy Lally Second Fastest in GT Class

Max Angelelli in the No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley posted the fastest lap time today in the first day of Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series practice at Miller Motorsports Park for the nine-hour Discount Tire Sunchaser season finale. His fast lap of 2:38.561 with an average speed of 101.851 mph came in the first session of the day but he was also fastest in the final session, which lasted into the night - no small feat considering there are no lights or reflective curbs yet installed at the facility.

"I've liked this track since the very first lap I did," said Angelelli. "I have tested here before and it's a very good track. A lot of turns and it's tough at night, but it's fun. I think we need to be P1 tomorrow and Saturday; we need to win this race."

The No. 10 car, which Angelelli will share with Wayne Taylor and Ryan Hunter-Reay, wasn't the only fast Pontiac out there: Andy Wallace ran second-fastest in the second session and sixth-fastest overall in his No. 4 Howard-Boss Motorsports Pontiac Crawford. Wallace finished second in the previous Rolex Series race at Infineon Raceway driving with Butch Leitzinger, who left Miller after the first practice session to take part in other events held at Mosport near Toronto.

"Despite the fact that it's four-and-a-half miles in length, I still haven't had a clear lap on new tires so I'm pretty confident we can go faster than we did," said Wallace. "I've been here once before with Butch - it's a really, really nice track. I have to congratulate the guy who built it. You can build a brand-new circuit in 2006 and not fill it with second-gear corners everywhere. You've got some proper corners. Third-, fourth-, fifth-gear corners and the like. One of the kinks at the end of the second straight is an 145-mph corner, which is brilliant. Everybody likes that. You can have a few slower ones but you need fast ones too. It's all incorporated in this track so I like it.

"They haven't done anything at all for the dark, however," Wallace continued. "There's no lights - which would be fine if they painted the curbs or the walls, but they haven't yet. You can't see a damn thing. I think it could be dangerous. I think they should start the race a bit earlier or cut it off before the official finish."

Two other Pontiac-powered Daytona Prototypes posted practice times in the top 10; the No. 11 CITGO Racing by SAMAX Pontiac Riley of Milka Duno, Marc Goossens and Stefan Johansson were seventh and the No. 99 GAINSCO/Blackhawk Racing Pontiac Riley of Jon Fogarty, Alex Gurney and Jimmy Vasser were ninth-fastest.

Pontiac also had a good first showing at Miller in the GT class; Andy Lally posted the second fastest GT time of 2:55.836 at 91.845 mph. Lally, who shares the #65 TRG/F1 Air GTO.R with Marc Bunting and Spencer Pumpelly, was bested only by Wolf Henzler who posted the best GT lap of 2:54.738 (92.422 mph).

"Tonight was a lot of work - even though the car was quick it was scary out there," said Lally after the final practice that went into the night. "It was good learning for when it all hits the fan on Saturday night, though. It's like a rally out there in the dark. There's gravel and asphalt and water from antifreeze; all sorts of terrain with no lights. But our Pontiac GTO.R headlights are pretty good - maybe the best out there."

Lally's teammate Paul Edwards, who shares the No. 64 TRG/iRise GTO.R with Kelly Collins and Kris Wilson posted the third-fastest time of the day. He shared Lally's sentiments on driving on a dark circuit.

"You've got night blindness coming from the front and the back of you," said Edwards. "The shift lights are super-bright, especially the red one that tells you to shift. You blink red after you see it and it comes on just before some of the fast kinks so it blinds you when you are turning. Then you have a DP blinding you on the exit. I'm glad this isn't 24 hours. The dust is bad too."

The 15th and final leg of the 2006 Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series season, the Discount Tire Sunchaser, is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 2 at 12 p.m. MDT. Parts of the race will be broadcast live on SPEED TV: the first part will be shown at 2:00 p.m. EDT and the conclusion at 6:00 p.m. EDT.

- Steve Smith -

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01.09.2006 / MaP

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