Grand Am-Max The Axe Cuts Down The Field
LEEDS, AL- Max “The Axe” Angelelli drove a masterful final hour in his #10 Velocity Worldwide Corvette Daytona Prototype to hold off a hard charging but underpowered Alex Gurney in the #99 GAINSCO Red Dragon Corvette to secure his 22nd career win in Grand Am’s top series. On the GT side of things, Robin Liddell in the #57 Stevenson Auto Group Camaro outpaced a tightly contested battle with Alessandro Balzan in the #63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458.
On a remarkably beautiful day in the Appalachian Foothills of North Central Alabama, the stars of the Grand Am Rolex Series took to the scenic 2.3 mile Grand Prix course at Barber Motorsports Park. On the DP side of things, Jon Fogarty started on pole in the GAINSCO Red Dragon with Ricky Taylor in P2, piloting the #90 Spirit of Daytona Corvette. Starting on the front row of the GT Class grid were John Edwards in P1 for Stevenson Motorsports in the #57 Camaro GT.R. Next to him was Boris Said in the #31 Marsh Racing Corvette.
In the Daytona Prototype class, Jon Fogarty attempted to play a game of hide-and-seek as he shot off to lead the first 13 laps, only to lose the lead on Lap 14 to Ricky Taylor on pit stops as the caution came out for the only time all day on Lap 13. The #93 Turner Motorsports GT Class BMW of Michael Marshall and Gunter Schaldach went off into the gravel. After six laps under yellow, racing was back on with Taylor pulling away from the field. Some swapping of the lead occurred, seeing Burt Frisselle, Jordan Taylor, Alex Gurney, Gustavo Yacaman and Stephane Sarrazin take turns in the lead before Max Angelelli finally took control for the final time on Lap 52. Alex Gurney would make a valiant charge at Angelelli, but the GAINSCO Red Dragon was running low on fuel, so Gurney couldn’t quite mount a charge to take the win.
Over on the GT Grid, John Edwards quickly took the lead, leading until the caution for the #93 Turner Motorsports BMW on Lap 13. Boris Said grabbed the top spot for the next 25 laps, making quite the strong showing until the team had to make the required driver change. Jeff Westphal and Dion von Moltke would each take turns at the front until Robin Liddell finally took control on Lap 52. Liddell put in a masterful drive over the final minutes of the event to hold off Alessandro Balzan in the #63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari by .733 seconds.
Post Race Quotes
“For me, from my side it was kind of easy because I only had to maintain the gap, looking after the tires, so I was really babysitting the tires all along. And the car was great. Jordan (Taylor) allowed me to have such a race, an easy race, because he put the car in such a good position ahead of the 99, and that really helped. And on top of that, the team really made a good call, and I’ve thought about it. I was the one pushing the team for only a one-stop race, but as usual they didn’t listen to me. So, we won the race.” Max Angelelli, No. 10 Velocity Worldwide Corvette DP
“A couple of times I could get close – depending on traffic. We were pretty good, so I can’t complain. It’s a good points day. I ran out of fuel towards the end, so I backed off and cruised around the last two or three laps.” Alex Gurney, No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Corvette DP
“I was under a lot of pressure today, because the Ferrari was a wee bit faster. Really, the key was the second pit stop, and getting back out ahead of the Ferrari. From there, I managed to hang on. The track is really improved. The fall-off on the tires is really reduced than it was here before.” John Edwards, No. 57 Stevenson Auto Group Chevrolet Camaro
“My first five laps were quite difficult – never having driven a dry lap at Barber before today’s race. To get to one second of the fast drivers is not that difficult – to cut down that last second is very hard. I spent a bit of time following behind Robin [Liddell] and learning his lines. Then I started learning lines that would work better with the Ferrari. I could really understand the track during the last 20 minutes. We have a fast car, and I’m very happy with the team. We’re going to go after the victory at Road Atlanta.” Alessandro Balzan, No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458.
The next Grand Am Rolex Series event is April 18-20 at Road Atlanta in Brasselton, GA.