The No. 10 SunTrust Ford Dallara of Wayne Taylor Racing will start Saturday's Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Porsche 250 from the pole after Ricky Taylor took the top spot in qualifying Friday at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala.
Taylor, the 20-year-old son of three-time sports car racing champion and SunTrust team owner Wayne Taylor, blistered the track record with a lap of 1m19.624sec (103.988mph) around the 2.3-mile, 17-turn road course to become the second-youngest Daytona Prototype-class pole winner in Rolex Series history. It was only the second-ever qualifying effort for Taylor in the SunTrust Racing Ford, and it was the second pole in three races this season and 15th all-time for the SunTrust team. Taylor will be making his 23rd career Rolex Series start when he leads 29 car-and-driver combinations to the green flag Saturday afternoon.
“I knew what we could do, I just wasn't sure how quick everybody else would go,” said Taylor, who beat by almost a full second the previous pole qualifying record set here in 2008 by Michael Valiante in the No. 10 SunTrust Racing machine (1m20.521sec at 102.830mph). “We improved the car a lot since yesterday and I think we've now got a really good car. I'm really happy. It's the best team in the paddock. I know they give me the equipment to do it every weekend. Hopefully, there are more of these to come.”
Taylor, new full-time co-driver this season to veteran Max Angelelli, especially appreciates the chance start on the pole Saturday as it comes at the highly technical Barber Motorsports Park layout, which snakes back and forth through 17 turns and numerous elevation changes. Colin Braun is the youngest pole qualifier in Rolex Series history, having clocked the fastest lap in the No. 75 Krohn Racing entry – coincidentally, here at Barber in 2006 – at the age of 17. Braun went on to win the race that year.
“I think of all the tracks, this is one of the most important to start on the pole,” said Taylor, a sophomore mechanical engineering major at the University of Central Florida. “I've never started on the pole in Grand-Am, so that'll be a little bit of a learning thing. I've done it before in other series, so I'll go based on that.”
Antonio Garcia, in the No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Porsche Coyote, earned the outside-front-row starting spot while the No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates BMW Riley and No. 99 Gainsco/Bob Stallings Racing Chevrolet Riley will start in third and fourth, respectively. Jonathan Bomarito and Sylvain Tremblay claimed the GT class pole in the Speed Source Mazda RX-8. Ironically, Bomarito's late pole-winning lap denied a Taylor family sweep of the Barber's pole, as Ricky's younger brother Jordan was bumped back to second in the final moments of the session.
"I knew what time I needed for the pole when I started my final lap, so I knew I just had to stay clean in the final two corners," said Bomarito, who opened his rookie Grand-Am season with a victory in the Rolex 24 At Daytona. "I'm really excited about winning my first pole. I love qualifying. Now, we've got to adjust our mindset to get ready for the race."
The Grand-Am race from Barber airs live on SPEED Saturday beginning at 1:30pm ET.