DETROIT – With 22 titles won by its major professional sports teams – 11 Stanley Cups by its National Hockey League Red Wings, four pre-Super-Bowl-era National Football League titles by its Lions, four World Series trophies for its Major League Baseball Tigers, and three National Basketball Association titles by its Pistons – Detroit is certainly no stranger to championships.
A year ago this weekend, another championship was born on the downtown streets of Belle Isle Park when Jordan Taylor and Max “The Ax” Angelelli stormed their way to victory from pole to checkered flag en route to the final GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series driver championship.
This weekend, Taylor and his older brother Ricky Taylor look to make it back-to-back wins and championships when they return to the 2.35-mile, 13-turn temporary circuit in their No. 10 Konica Minolta Chevrolet Corvette Dallara Daytona Prototype for Wayne Taylor Racing during Saturday’s Chevrolet Sports Car Classic. It’ll be round five of the 2014 Tudor United SportsCar Championship and part of the annual Verizon IndyCar Series weekend festivities on historic Belle Isle.
Last year, Jordan Taylor qualified for his first Daytona Prototype-class pole and joined Angelelli in leading 45 of 61 race laps around the Belle Isle circuit in scoring the team’s second of five victories in 2013 and made Taylor a perfect two-for-two in Detroit. It came a year after Taylor and Paul Edwards co-drove to the GT-class victory at Belle Isle in the No. 88 Autohaus Motorsports Camaro GT.R
In 2012, Ricky Taylor and Angelelli had an equally dominant No. 10 WTR Corvette DP at Belle Isle. Angelelli handed the car over to Taylor in second place during the race’s opening pit stop, and the young Taylor made short work of passing veteran Scott Pruett for the race lead a short time later. After the team’s final pit stop of the day, Taylor was headed back on track in the race lead when an unfortunate encounter with the concrete barrier exiting pit road brought an unexpected end to their day. Still, Taylor and Angelelli led 13 of the opening 39 laps of the race that day and, as can be expected, that turn of events will only help further motivate the team to successfully defend its 2013 race win on the streets of Belle Isle.
Practice for Saturday’s Chevrolet Sports Car Classic begins at 9:35 a.m. EDT Friday with Prototype-class qualifying set for 5:45 p.m. Saturday’s one-hour, 40-minute race takes the green flag at 12:10 p.m. with delayed television coverage provided by FOX Sports 1 beginning at 1:30 p.m. A live online video stream will be carried by IMSA.com with a prerace show beginning at 11:30 a.m. IMSA.com will also stream qualifying live beginning at 5:25 p.m. Friday. The Motor Racing Network’s live radio broadcast will be available in its entirety on IMSA.com and MRNRadio.com, as well as select radio networks beginning at noon. Live timing and scoring during all on-track sessions is available at IMSA.com and the IMSA smartphone app.
JORDAN TAYLOR, driver, No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Chevrolet Corvette Dallara Daytona Prototype:
You’re two-for-two at Detroit with a pair of victories the past two seasons. Are you ready to try to make it three in a row?
“I think both years I won the race, it was won in the pits. We came in last year in second and left in first. In 2012, we were out front, I passed for the lead at one point, but we definitely needed and got a good last pit stop that kept us in the lead. We weren’t the fastest car that year, but we did start on the pole last year and backed it up with the race win. Track position is very important on a street course like Detroit, and both years my team was fantastic in the pits. They definitely set the tone both years. The speed differential between our two classes this year is going to be larger with GTDs. And this year there are more of them. It’s all going to come down to who can capitalize on the traffic and the opportunistic moves that will have to be made. When we start lapping the GTD cars, that’s when the race will get interesting. We haven’t seen them since Sebring, and on a street track it will be a lot different. At Long Beach, we had just a small advantage in traffic with the GTLM cars, so this weekend we definitely will have to be careful. There are a lot of professional drivers in the GTD class, but also a lot of gentleman drivers with not a lot of experience like we saw at Sebring and Daytona. So we’ll just have to be more cautious. We had a really good car at Long Beach, so we’ll use the improvements we found to our advantage this weekend. I think we’re in good shape.”
You’ll be headed to Le Mans right after the race for Sunday’s test in France with the factory Chevrolet Corvette C7 team. Is that as grueling as it sounds?
“It’ll be the third year in a row I’ve done it this way. The checkered flag drops in Detroit, and three hours later I’m on a plane to Paris. We land Sunday morning, take the train to Le Mans, arrive around lunchtime, and hopefully get four hours of testing in before it’s all over. I think we have a better shot at winning than last year. We struggled with outright pace last year. The C7 is much improved. Race weekend, you never know what to expect. Last year, we had rain on and off all 24 hours. We have a great team with Corvette Racing, which has won the race multiple times. I can’t be in better position going into it this year.”
You announced today that you’ll be cutting off the mullet and raising funds for charity. What are your thoughts about that?
“It’s been a long time coming. I’ve been growing it out since January 2013 and I’m definitely getting tired of it. I talked with Sarah Gurtis at Camp Boggy Creek, and Dan Binks, my Corvette crew chief, about how we can benefit their charities. I’m going to cut it off at the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen and hope to raise at least $10,000 before then by raffling off a once-in-a-lifetime experience for a lucky fan that weekend. I got some great help from the folks at Continental Tire and Watkins Glen with some really great prizes that will help us raise a lot of money. Someone will win a ride in a two-seater Daytona Prototype, pit tours and race tickets. Whoever wins it gets a once-in-a-lifetime experience, that’s for sure. Raising money for two great charities is what this is all about.”
RICKY TAYLOR, driver, No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Chevrolet Corvette Dallara Daytona Prototype:
What are your expectations for this weekend on the streets of Belle Isle?
“We’re going to be very strong there, I think. The LMP2 cars are going to be similar to Laguna where they will be pretty strong. As for the DPs, the 5 (Action Express Corvette DP) and the 90 (Spirit of Daytona Corvette DP) always run well there. But I think everyone will have their eyes on us as we had an exceptional weekend there last year, and we were the car to beat the year before. That’s always a good feeling, I guess. It’ll be a very short race, once again, that’ll make it pretty intense like Long Beach was. We might have an advantage as we’re used to racing with this combination of classes – the Daytona Prototypes and the GT Daytona cars. There is a pretty significant speed differential between these two classes, so it’ll be like the old GRAND-AM days.”
What is it about the Detroit circuit that seems to agree with your Corvette DP so well?
“I honestly don’t know what it is about the characteristics of that track that suits us so well. One thing I might put my finger on is that Brian (Pillar) our engineer has made excellent changes to our setup each of the last two years. There was a time each of the last two years there that our car was just not working well, but both years his adjustments were our savior and made it into a race-winning car, or potential race-winning car.”
Talk about leaving right after Saturday’s race for testing in France for the 24 Hours of Le Mans with the No. 50 Larbre Competition LMP2-class team.
“Le Mans is such a big race and it deserves 100 percent of your attention when you have the opportunity to do it. It’ll be difficult for Jordan and I with the races surrounding it to give it 100 percent. I’ve never driven an LMP2 car, but I think it’ll be more of what I’m used to than the GT car I drove at Le Mans last year. We head straight to the airport after Saturday’s race and fly all night to get to Paris. With the jet lag, it will be difficult, but I’m sure there will be a lot of adrenaline flowing once we get there and get strapped into the racecar. I’ll be trying to learn the car as quickly as I can. Luckily, I know the track. It’ll be a mad dash to get there, but fortunately I’ll be able to stay there through race weekend as my team plans on having a lot of bonding-type activity.”
WAYNE TAYLOR, owner, No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Chevrolet Corvette Dallara Daytona Prototype:
Your overall thoughts as the team heads back to Detroit as the defending race-winner?
“It’s a great event in every way, and it’s a very important event for Chevrolet. Because of that, the pressure has always been on to do well there. We already have a number of second-place finishes this year, so hopefully we can finally get our first win of the year. We had a spectacular weekend at Detroit last year. It was Jordan’s first pole and first win with us and it put us in position to win the championship. It’ll be a whole, new ballgame there this year, however. The LMP2 cars have an advantage over us, it appears. They were clearly faster than all of us at Laguna Seca and I still think they might have a slight advantage at Detroit. Otherwise, the Corvettes have been very good there the last two years. All in all, we love coming to Detroit. Each year, it seems the event gets better and better. We’re ready to rock and roll.”
– TSC –
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- Tom Jensen
NASCAR Editor at FOXSports.com & RACER Magazine