Grand Am Road Racing Media Conference
Topics: Grand Am Road Racing
September 16, 2009
THE MEDIATOR: Thank you very much. Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to this week's NASCAR Grand Am teleconference, as we look forward to Saturday's Utah 250 as Miller Motorsports Park near Salt Lake City. With only two races remaining in the 2009 Rolex Series season, the championship is heating up with six drivers within five points.
Joining us today are SunTrust Racing's Max Angelelli and Brian Frisselle. They've won two of the last four races to tie for second in the championship. And will have an encore silver paint scheme this weekend for the No. 10 Ford Dallara.
Max, does this feel like 2007 all over again, with SunTrust, GAINSCO and Ganassi all coming to Salt Lake City with the championship on the line?
MAX ANGELELLI: Yeah, looks pretty much the same. Although the outcome will be different. If you remember in 2007, we were virtually champion, but then the fire burned the car down to the ground and we lost the championship.
THE MEDIATOR: Yeah, I remember that too well.
Brian, in the past, this race had an endurance format of up to nine hours. How does the 2 hour 45 minute sprint format affect the way both you and the team approach the race?
BRIAN FRISSELLE: Well, just affects strategy a little bit. I mean, the intensity of the 9-hour race -- it was a 9-hour sprint race in many ways. I don't think anyone was saving their car or saving themselves. They were really pushing hard the entire time.
But with this race being shorter, the strategy changes. That last pit stop comes a lot sooner, and we have to position Max at the end, and hopefully in first.
THE MEDIATOR: Thank you very much. Now we'll go to media questions for Max and Brian.
Q. My first question is kind of going off what J.J. started with. Do you guys feel like you have any luck going on with the silver paint scheme? You seem to have climbed back into the points chase with it?
MAX ANGELELLI: Yeah. It looks like there was our best set-up, probably. It's good. We almost had the car to win races. We always fight for the win. We've got just an unbelievable unluck in the beginning of the year, incredible. So this is why we are fighting for the championship and not leading the championship.
Q. Do you feel like you have some momentum going on your side now with two recent victories?
MAX ANGELELLI: All three cars are on the momentum, actually. Because if you look at the results, we are all back together in the last four races we were all fighting for the lead. So, yeah, we have the momentum, but they also have the momentum as well.
Q. How does the track at Salt Lake City suit the Dallara, like the characteristics of it?
MAX ANGELELLI: Well, I'm answering because I raced with a lot last year while Brian was with (indiscernible) last year. The car suits our car -- the track suits our car pretty good. Probably not in terms of fast lap time, and I mean in qualifying.
But for the race, the way our car works, we can save the tires, and we can have a much faster pace for the race.
Q. They announced the 2010 schedule today. Can you give me your thoughts on that?
BRIAN FRISSELLE: Well, I actually haven't seen the schedule myself, but I've heard there's some new races. You know, I think it's exciting. Anyway we can expand Grand Am and bring it to new communities around the country is a bonus, because Grand Am's got a great product. It's really starting to come into its own.
It's something that I think as fans come out and they watch and they see it, they'll immediately like it. It's great racing, fast cars, and there is nothing not to like about it.
Q. You think that's important to go to new venues every year?
BRIAN FRISSELLE: I don't know about every year. That can be sometimes hard on teams, especially teams that aren't able to test as much. But I think it is important to expand the product and to go to new places. Once we get some solid races in and kind of get our identity as a series and where we want to be racing every year and historical events and stuff like that, I think we've just got to keep on searching for more racetracks.
Q. Since I'm the guy from Daytona, can you talk about the Rolex 24 and its place in the series?
BRIAN FRISSELLE: Well, it's the marquis event for all the Grand Am Series and for all drivers and teams. It's the one event, beyond the championship, it's the one thing that I want to win the most. My teammate's been able to win it, my team owner and my team, but not myself.
So that's one of the main reasons I really wanted to join the SunTrust team. I felt it gave me the best chance to win that race and win the championship. I mean, it's an amazing endurance event that every driver wishes that they could say they've won.
Q. My question is with all of the various what-ifs and possibilities, how do you go about balancing your race strategies and plans so not to be overcome or overwhelmed with detail and sort of let the race get out of hand?
BRIAN FRISSELLE: Well, I think the team how we normally approach it, we approach the weekend trying to win the race. If we do that, then we'll be good in the points and the championship will look very good for us.
So I don't think much changes. We've been trying to win every race this year, and nothing's going to change in the final two races. We'll be looking for the win. We've had good strategy all year. We'll continue to do that. We've got great guys calling our strategy. And just be looking to do more of the same. Some of it is luck, and hopefully it will roll our way.
Q. Did you guys sense your team stepping up lately, or was it just routine hard work?
MAX ANGELELLI: As I said before, we were leading races, we were fighting for the win. But it just got really unlucky with the yellow flags that. That sometimes works in your favor, other times works against you. What happened at the beginning of the season, the couple of times we really lose an easy win because of that.
So we always had a good car, fast car. The team has always been good. So it's just kind of putting everything together and have a nice, sweet run during the race, and this is why we won lately.
Q. And Brian also?
BRIAN FRISSELLE: I would say the same. The team you look back, we had good races going. Laguna Seca, our car was probably the fastest car on the track. Both Max and I set the fast lap race during it. We just got a little unlucky with the yellows. On a track like that, you need track position. There are other races like mid-Ohio we felt we should have won.
But that's racing. Lately, things have been going our way for the most part. We've had some -- I made a big drive there at Barber. But the team's strong. They've been strong all year.
I think Max and I have improved as a pairing. Just understanding the needs of the car and working together. Driver pairing, you know, it gets stronger with time. I feel like as the year has gone on, our pairing has only gotten stronger.
Q. This might be off subject but has to do with what you guys do. Athletes you guys sustain hundreds of horsepower for hours. What does horsepower mean to both of you?
BRIAN FRISSELLE: Well, to me horsepower means speed. The more that they'll give us, the better. Everybody wants the most horsepower. I would love to see Grand Am even allow more horsepower in these engines. But, to us, it's everything.
THE MEDIATOR: You had been in the battle for the championship right through the victory at Daytona. But then you had the back-to-back 14th place finish. Brian just mentioned that a moment ago, then 12th at Watkins Glen. How important was the victory at Montreal to get back into the championship race?
MAX ANGELELLI: Well, it was everything. This year, especially this year, has been really a different championship. Because normally in the past when you miss a race or let's say when you have a bad result, you kind of really are behind, big time. But this year because it's so competitive, we were not the only one to mark that point. But the 01 did it a couple of times, the 99 did it as well.
So with a win in Montreal, everything got back together. And now you have cars that are fighting for the championship, but each one of them had bad results during the year. That never happened in the past if you look at the results, the championship points and everything.
So in one way it really helped that the other guys bad races, and the win in Montreal really like changed the whole outcome of the championship for us.
THE MEDIATOR: Thank you very much. We'd like to thank Brian and Max for joining us today.
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