By DAVE SKRETTA
(KANSAS CITY, Kan., AP) — Jordan Taylor is accustomed to leading off races. Max Angelelli is the guy who finishes.
They figured that they were far enough out of the points race heading into Grand-Am’s debut at Kansas Speedway that they might as well try changing it up — let the veteran Angelelli start and put the 22-year-old son of team owner Wayne Taylor into the car for the finish.
Well, now they have to start worrying about the standings again.
Taylor managed to hold off veteran Scott Pruett over the final 30 minutes Saturday night, crossing the finish line under the lights to not only win the race but also move into the Daytona Prototype points lead with two events left in the 12-race schedule.
“We just felt like we could switch and we were both strong in all the races, so we felt, why not give it a try?” Taylor said. “It just turned out we had a perfect race.”
Taylor wound up winning the 2-hour, 45-minute race by 0.568 seconds over Pruett, who had to overcome a 60-second penalty that teammate Memo Rojas picked up earlier in the race for avoidable contact. It was the third win of the season for Angelelli and Taylor.
“It’s not easy when you have Pruett behind you for over an hour,” Angelelli said.
In the GT class, Alessandro Balzan teamed with Leh Keen for his first win of the season in their Scuderia Corsa Ferrara 458. Joel Miller and Tristan Nunez won their second straight GX race.
“We really worked on the setup of the car, not to be very quick at the beginning, but to keep running, keep running,” said Balzan, who pulled away from second-place Patrick Long for the win. “It was very important for us to win now, in this point of the championship.”
There are just two races left in the Rolex Sports Car Series season — Sept. 8 at Laguna Seca in California, and Sept. 28 at Lime Rock Park in Connecticut.
It was another frustrating weekend for Alex Popow and Ryan Dalziel, the drivers of the No. 2 Starworks with Alex Popow Ford Riley that came into the weekend leading the DP standings.
After mechanical problems last week at Road America doomed them to a 14th-place finish, Popow picked damage to the front of his car early in Saturday night’s race. The team pulled the car behind the wall and managed to get it fixed, but by that point they were close to 20 laps down.
They weren’t the only point leaders to have trouble at Kansas, either.
Andy Lally, who along with teammate John Potter had a seven-point lead in the GT class, came onto pit road about 90 minutes into the race with heavy damage to his Porsche GT3. Fluids spewed out the front of the car from what turned out to be a punctured radiator.
The pit stop came during a caution caused by a spin in the DP class that collected Stephane Sarrazin and Alex Gurney. Sarrazin’s 8 Star Motorosports Corvette went behind the wall for repairs, while Gurney’s Gainsco Corvette wound up losing the driver’s side door — Gurney comically tossed mud out of the car during a pit stop before the door was replaced.
“Sarrazin was coming through the field. It’s racing,” 8 Star’s Enzo Potoliccio said about the wreck. “We knew this would be tough because we knew the Corvettes would have a disadvantage with the down-force here. We’re looking forward to next year and see what happens.”
That’s assuming the race is even on the schedule next year.
The merger between the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series and the American Le Mans Series that was announced earlier this year means that Kansas Speedway’s new road course could be left out of a combined United SportsCar Racing series schedule next season.
Kansas Speedway certainly made a positive first impression.
There was a decent crowd in the main grandstand near Turn 1, where cars exited the main track used twice a year by the Sprint Cup series and headed onto the infield part of the track. Fans lined the fences there, filling a pair of portable grandstands on a picturesque late-summer night.
“They have to make some decisions for 2014 that are some tough decisions,” track president Pat Warren said. “As they try to figure out how they want to grow the series, what they want to do to bring the two series together, we just don’t know where we fit in that picture.”