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Wayne Taylor Racing takes control of 24 Hours

January 26, 2014
Associated Press

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Wayne Taylor is inching closer to a third Rolex 24 at Daytona victory, and this one has been his most stressful yet.

Wayne Taylor Racing had victory within reach with just under two hours remaining Sunday in the prestigious twice-around-the-clock endurance race. It would be the third win for Taylor, co-owner of the team, who ended his four-year retirement for the opportunity to join a four-driver lineup that included both of his sons.

The 58-year-old drove one stint Saturday and left the bulk of the on-track work to co-owner Max Angelelli and sons Ricky and Jordan. The foursome had the No. 10 Corvette in the top three as the race neared its conclusion.

Wayne Taylor won his first Rolex 24 in 1996 while driving for Riley & Scott — a win that his sons celebrated in Victory Lane with their father. He teamed with Angelelli to win the 2005 race, and fielded the car last year that Angelelli and Jordan Taylor drove to a second-place finish.

But when son, Ricky, returned to the team this season, he was briefly lured out of retirement for the chance to join the Ricky, 24, and Jordan, 22, in what he considered a once-in-a-lifetime chance.

"It has been so cool. I left the pit box when he got in the car. I was watching on TV — I couldn't believe what I was seeing," Ricky Taylor said. "Now that his run is done and my run is done, we can go relax together and let the other two do the job and the pit crew do the job. It has been very special."

The team planned to have Angelelli and Jordan Taylor, who teamed to win last year's Grand-AM driver championship, close out the race.

"This is a great weekend. Wayne did really well if you saw him," Angelelli said. "He did very few laps in practice. He got in the car and did very well. I'm very happy for them. And Ricky and Jordan — everyone knows they have won man races. So we are a very strong team."

Attrition hurt several top teams as Chip Ganassi Racing's No. 02 Ford was felled by a flat rear tire while Scott Dixon was running second with about six hours remaining. Michael Shank Racing's 2012 winning team twice went to the garage with gearbox problems.

It was a heartbreaking mechanical failure for Shank, who got everything he needed from the new Ford EcoBoost engine, only to be sabotaged by a broken part.

"It was a lot of effort from Ford and Roush Yates to have this EcoBoost motor ready for the race," Shank said. "We've had no issues with it. But we did lose first gear earlier this morning. We were able to replace the (gear) stack and get back out there, but there ended up being residual in there and we had to bring the car in to replace the box before it blew up.

"We could have parked it, but we wanted to do the job and finish strong — we had to for all the people in Detroit who are behind this."

Also, Joao Barbosa of Action Express Racing was black-flagged while running second for avoidable contact.

Barbosa thought it was the wrong call because he couldn't avoid hitting a GT car as they battled through the Bus Stop of the course.

"I thought he had given me some room, but he didn't see me and we hit side-by-side," Barbosa said. "When we race hard, we have to do quick decisions very quickly. But the race director didn't agree with my decisions, and it is unfortunate that we got a really harsh penalty on my view."

IMSA and GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing on Sunday said Memo Gidley has a broken back that will require surgery. The injury was suffered in a terrifying accident in the early stages of the race.

Gidley and Matteo Malucelli were both held overnight at Halifax Health following the two-car accident. Gidley will remain there until doctors repair an "unstable fracture" in his back.

Gidley had surgery on his left arm and leg late Saturday.

Gidley was driving the pole-winning car. He had to be cut out of the No. 99 Corvette, which crumpled like an accordion when he plowed into the back of Malucelli's Ferrari — possibly because Gidley likely didn't see Malucelli with the combination of a lapped car in front of him and the glare of the setting sun blinded his view.

"Visited with memo this morning. He's one tough guy, long recovery but he's gonna pull through and we're extremely happy about that," co-driver Alex Gurney, who won the pole in the GAINSCO car, posted Sunday on Twitter.



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