Brilliant Strategy Salvages Fourth at Brickyard

First-Lap Incident Ends Hopes of Victory at Indy for Ricky & Jordan Taylor,
Who Go into Fuel-Saving Mode To Save Five Precious Points in the Standings

Date: July 25, 2014
Event: Brickyard Grand Prix (Round 8 of 11)
Series: Prototype division of the Tudor United SportsCar Championship
Location: Indianapolis Motor Speedway (2.439-mile, 14-turn road course)
Start/Finish: 7th / 4th (Running, completed 108 of 108 laps)
Point Standing: 2nd (247 points, two out of first)
Winner: Christian Fittipaldi and Joao Barbosa of Action Express Racing (Corvette DP)

Call it the kiss of death – relatively speaking – for the eventual fourth-place-finishing No. 10 Konica Minolta Chevrolet Corvette Dallara Daytona Prototype for Wayne Taylor Racing in Friday’s Tudor United SportsCar Championship Brickyard Grand Prix on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. Before the field made it to the very first turn of the two-hour, 45-minute race, brothers Ricky and Jordan Taylor already had to kiss goodbye their chances of kissing the venerable “Yard of Bricks” on this day.

As the field took the green flag and headed down the long front straight toward the hard, right-hand turn one of the 2.439-mile, 14-turn road circuit, starting driver Jordan Taylor was abruptly shoved to the right and into the concrete barrier at the pit lane exit by young Sage Karam, driver of the No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Ford Riley. The impact to the No. 10 Konica Minolta Corvette DP completely detached its rear air diffuser – a hugely important component of the racecar’s aerodynamic system that was dangling by nothing more than bungee cords and was rendered essentially ineffective for the remainder of the race.

And there went any hopes and dreams by the No. 10 team of celebrating victory, Indy-style, and left today’s brick-kissing to the No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP duo of Christian Fittipaldi and Joao Barbosa, who also turned their five-point deficit to the Taylor brothers atop the championship entering the weekend into a two-point lead with three races remaining.

Things actually could have been much worse for the brothers Taylor and the No. 10 Corvette DP brigade as brilliant strategy saw Jordan Taylor save enough fuel during his one-hour, 55-minute stint to enable the team to cover the two-hour, 45-minute race distance on just two pit stops. With the rear-end damage to the car, it would have been futile for Taylor to try and keep pace with the lead pack, thus the team instructed him to cruise around in eighth place in fuel-saving mode. He was the last Prototype-class competitor to make a second pit stop, when he turned the car over to his brother for the final run to the finish with less than 50 minutes remaining.

Ricky Taylor resumed in eighth place and held that position, like his brother, until six of the seven cars ahead of him began to pit, one-by-one, for a final splash of fuel with 13 minutes remaining. Two of those six competitors – Scott Pruett in the No. 01 Ganassi Racing entry and Richard Westbrook in the No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Corvette DP, managed to hold their positions in front of Taylor after their fuel stops. But Ryan Dalziel and Johannes van Overbeek in the Nos. 1 and 2 Extreme Speed Motorsports LMP2 entries, respectively, Gustavo Yacaman in the No. 42 OAK Racing LMP2 entry, and Oswaldo Negri in the No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Ford also were ahead of Taylor but all rejoined the race behind him after their fuel stops. Eventual winner Joao Barbosa never needed a third stop, either, despite making his last fuel stop several laps before the No. 10 team.

That enabled the Ricky Taylor – over the final 13 minutes – to gain four precious positions in today’s final order of finish and five precious points in the championship with only Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, and the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta remaining on the schedule.

“We were done at the beginning of the race after the crash in turn one,” said Jordan Taylor, who qualified seventh here yesterday after earning the pole here last year en route to the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series championship. “From there, it was a matter of survival and trying to get as many points as possible. We saved fuel in the middle stint to make it to the end from our last stop. I think that’s what really saved our race, strategy-wise because, with all that damage, we just didn’t have the pace. Ricky was able to hold of Dalziel at the end, which was close. But it was about as good as it could have possibly been, I guess, after what happened on lap one. We got driven into the wall, exactly the same as we were at Mosport (Canadian Tire Motorsport Park two weekends ago) and there was no call made. It’s frustrating to race like this because we’re being put in the dangerous position of leaving it up to the drivers. And we all know drivers aren’t very smart. (Laughs.)”

“Jordan did a great job during his stint to save all that fuel,” said Ricky Taylor, who co-drove the No. 10 Corvette DP to a third-place finish alongside Max “The Ax” Angelelli in the inaugural Brickyard Grand Prix in 2012. “The guys did a great strategy and that was what really saved our day. It was unfortunate that there was no call made on that incident on the first lap because I think that kind of a move warrants at least some sort of penalty for doing that, otherwise we’re just going to get pushed around all year for being Mr. Nice Guy. If there’s nothing that’s going to be done after those incidents, then we’re going to have to fight back. That definitely cost us our day. We don’t even know what we had because we had so much damage to the rear of the car. We might have even had a winning car, we’ll never know. It was internal damage that you can’t see at first glance, but it was very significant.”

“This one was all about the team, plain and simple,” said team owner Wayne Taylor. “Every single thing that went wrong, they fixed and they had an answer to it. To get our car smashed up and put in this condition, yet again – yet again, our car gets smashed into and nothing happens – this fourth place is down to all the guys. The team just did fantastic. We lost our lead in the points but we leave here only down by two with three races to go. This really could have been a monumental disaster. If we have one of our worst days of the season and still bring home a fourth-place finish, that really says something. Hats off to everyone who is part of this organization.”

The Tudor United SportsCar Championship takes next weekend off before resuming the 2014 campaign with the Continental Tire Road Showcase at Road America Sunday, Aug. 10. Race time is 1:15 p.m. EDT with FOX Sports 1 providing a delayed television broadcast of the two-hour, 45-minute event beginning at 6:30 p.m.