Jordan Taylor and Max Angelelli pulled a switch on the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series field Saturday night and won the inaugural SFP Grand Prix at Kansas Speedway.
By RANDY COVITZ
The Kansas City Star
Taylor, in his first season driving in the Daytona Prototype class, usually qualifies and opens the race for the Wayne Taylor Racing team, and Angelelli, an 11-year veteran, brings it home.
But Saturday, they changed roles, and Taylor took the lead from Will Nonnamaker with 38 minutes remaining in the 2 hour, 45 minute race and held off five-time champion Scott Pruetts BMW by 0.568 seconds in an entertaining race in front of an estimated 10,000 watching under the lights on the new 2.37-mile road course.
We were both strong in all the races, and thought wed give it a try, said Taylor, 22. We were further back in the points and werent focusing on the championship. It was more of a learning experience, trying to get me to finish races going into next year.
And it turned out, we had a perfect race, and I was in the lead. Max (finished) two wins this season. It wasnt like we switched because he wasnt performing. It was just a switch looking to the future.
Taylor and Angelellis third win of the season and Angelellis 24th of his career vaulted them into first place in the DP standings, two points ahead of Christian Fittipaldi, who drives with several teammates, and three points ahead of Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty with two races to go.
Leh Keen and Alessandro Balzan, in a Ferrari, nosed out Patrick Lindsey/Patrick Long, in a Porsche, and won the Grand Touring class which ran simultaneously with the Daytona Prototypes. It was Keens 10th career win, Balzans first.
Meanwhile, John Edwards fell short in his bid to win two races Saturday. After Edwards kept hard-charging Matt Plumb off his rear bumper and won the Grand Sport class in the Grand-Am Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge road race in the afternoon, he and teammate Robin Liddell finished fourth in a Camaro in the nightcaps Grand Touring class.
Getting paid twice is nice, said Edwards, who teamed with Matt Bell for the victory in the afternoon race, but in reality, were all racers, and we want to race as much as we can.
Last weekend, Edwards raced three times twice Saturday and once Sunday at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis., where the Grand-Am series ran simultaneously with its future partner, the American Le Mans Series.
Three is a little too much on a weekend, Edwards said. But it was something I wanted to do once because the series were together.
In Saturdays first race, Bell had the car in second place at the time of a green-flag driver change an hour into the race. Edwards passed Jade Buford and held on to the lead for the final 90 minutes, beating Plumbs Porsche to the finish by 0.425 seconds.
The car was great, Edwards said. I didnt think this was going to be one of our tracks, but that didnt stop us from really focusing on the setup and trying to make the car as good as we can make it. We probably werent as fast as (Plumb), but Matt was faster than Nick Longhi and did a good job to get by him.
The victory was the second of the season for Stevenson Motorsports teammates Edwards and Bell, who moved to within 51 points of the GS defending champions and series leaders, Plumb and Longhi, with two events to go.
Plumb and Longhi could have clinched the series championship for Rum Bum Racing on Saturday, but they were content with maintaining a comfortable lead over their rivals.
It wouldve been great, but honestly, in order to clinch it, Stevenson wouldve had to have some misfortune, Plumb said, and thats not necessarily how we want to win this thing. Our job was to finish as high up as we possibly could, and it just so happened they finished one higher. But were psyched. Were happy about it and we come away with a boatload of points. And we have a great shot of clinching it next time.
Edwards had little time to celebrate. It was time to get ready to race again.
Sometimes it can hinder you a little bit if you wear yourself out in (the first) race and theres a short gap until the next one, Edwards said. But ultimately I know more about the track throughout the day, and I think its a big help. Thats part of the reason I start the other race, because thats a shorter stint.
Twenty-eight seconds after Edwards won the GS race, Taylor Hacquard, running second to Michael Valiante in the ST class, was declared the winner after Valiante was penalized for manipulating the restart.
It was the first time Hacquard, teaming with Derek Jones in a Mazda, ever finished second but won a race.
I never had a race where I finished second either, he said. Its been three full seasons in Grand-Am, and weve been so close so many times before. Weve been within laps of winning a race but an inch of bad luck here and there blowing a tire, so it feels great to be in the top three across the finish line. It feels like a big accomplishment.
To reach Randy Covitz, call 816-234-4796 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.