Wayne Taylor looking for home field advantage
GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series team Wayne Taylor Racing prepared for its ultimate "home game" in 2012 by continuing testing Sept. 8 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the inaugural Super Weekend at the Brickyard.
Ricky Taylor drove the No. 10 SunTrust Racing Dallara/Chevrolet on Wednesday, handing the wheel to Max Angelelli in the rain-shortened session Thursday for Wayne Taylor Racing, which is based just 8 miles north of IMS.
A third day of testing for GRAND-AM drivers and teams has been added from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday due to unseasonably cool, windy and wet conditions today and Wednesday. Daytona Prototypes and GT cars from the Rolex Sports Car Series and Grand Sport and Street Tuner cars from the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge are testing.
GRAND-AM will make its IMS debut Friday, July 27, 2012 as part of the inaugural Super Weekend at the Brickyard. Separate races for the Rolex Sports Car Series and Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge will take place that day on the 13-turn, 2.534-mile Grand Prix course at IMS, with NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and Nationwide Series action also on the oval during the four-day event from July 26-29.
Taylor and 2005 Daytona Prototype champion Angelelli talked about testing and their anticipation for GRAND-AM's first race at IMS.
Q: Conditions over the last two days are probably far different from what we can expect when you race here next July, so how valuable was this experience for you?
RICKY TAYLOR: You still learn a lot. As a driver, you learn a ton just doing laps and working on things, but from a technical standpoint I think the track temperature was below 100, and in the middle of July, it's going to be super-hot and definitely well above 100 degrees track temp. I think from a technical standpoint that you don't really know what that variable is going to change with the car setup and the tire wear and everything, but we'll do as much work as we can and we'll find a direction and have as much information as we possibly can for July.
Q: What was it like for you to drive at IMS?
TAYLOR: It's a lot of fun. It's really special to be here at the Speedway. I'm really excited to come here in July next year. I really enjoy the track, the whole history. You see the bricks and the Pagoda and everything, and it really just sends chills down your spine.
Q: What's it like to run here as an Indianapolis-based team?
TAYLOR: As a sports car driver, you pretty much give up on that dream, and you assume you're never going to have the opportunity to come here. But to have the opportunity in the team's home city is pretty special. It's kind of strange: Everybody kind of gets in their own cars and goes home, and at the racetrack you're not really used to that. But it's really special, and we're really looking forward to the opportunity to race on the NASCAR weekend, and here at the Speedway it's going to be really a cool day.
Q: What are your thoughts on racing with NASCAR during the Super Weekend next year?
TAYLOR: We race with NASCAR on a couple weekends, but nothing like Indy. Indy is the pinnacle of racing in the U.S., for sure, so to be here with Nationwide, with NASCAR and our own Continental series, it's going to be really special. I'm really looking forward to it.
Q: What's it like to race for a team owned by your father?
TAYLOR: It's a lot of pressure. Being such a good team, regardless that my dad owns it, there's that pressure that you're expected to run up front, and they don't expect anything else. So with my dad leading it and I'm the owner's son, it's real easy to say he's only there because of his dad, and I don't want to be looked at that way. I want to earn it, so I just push my hardest every weekend and do my best.
Q: What are your thoughts about your team's performance this season?
TAYLOR: The season is going very well; we're second in points. The car has been super-fast all year. Just a couple little mistakes here and there kept us out of a real hard battle for the championship. We'll go to Mid-Ohio next weekend, and I think the car will be super-fast, as always, and we'll try to have a solid weekend to finish out the year and then start working on 2012.
Q: What was your experience like running at Indy the last two days?
MAX ANGELELLI: I learned that it's a great place to be. It was kind of short because of the rain. I can't wait to go back on track. It's a good place, but the only weird thing is we go in the opposite direction (clockwise) after being here so many years watching the Indy 500, and going in the opposite direction was kind of weird in the beginning, but I got used to it. The track is nice, super-safe, and I think we're going to have a good race.
Q: How did the cold conditions hamper you and your team in your preparations for racing here in July, when it will be much hotter?
ANGELELLI: Yes, it definitely was a limiting factor. We definitely need 20 to 30 more degrees to understand the tires, the car and the capability and the speed and everything. It's too cold, and the rain doesn't help.
Q: What do you like about the course, and what makes it challenging?
ANGELELLI: The thing I like the least is the lack of a braking zone where you can make passes, but that is the only little thing, and we have many positives like very wide banking and a straight line where you can run five-wide, and you can have a nice braking zone going into Turn 1. You have a lot of runoff, so if you're in a fight and you lose the track, you can recover it. You don't just hit the wall and your race is over, so that is very positive. All of those positives will help in having a good race.
Q: How much are you looking forward to the Super Weekend in July?
ANGELELLI: Definitely. I'm sure the people will show up and will be very happy with the entire weekend. They can have corners, they can have ovals, they will have three different types of cars all combined. You go from as low as cars that are already quick to the super-quick, like (Sprint) Cup. It's a wide range for everybody from the sports car fans to the NASCAR fans.