Birmingham: Blackhawk Racing race report

Consistency pays off for GAINSCO team at Barber Park as Gurney, Fogarty score fourth-straight top-5 finish LEEDS, Ala. (July 30, 2006) -- The Porsche 250 presented by Bradley Arant was another near thing for the GAINSCO/Blackhawk team, as ...

Consistency pays off for GAINSCO team at Barber Park as Gurney, Fogarty score fourth-straight top-5 finish

LEEDS, Ala. (July 30, 2006) -- The Porsche 250 presented by Bradley Arant was another near thing for the GAINSCO/Blackhawk team, as Alex Gurney led 18 laps and Jon Fogarty set the fastest lap of the race en route to a fourth-place finish for the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Pontiac Riley at Barber Motorsports Park. The solid result for Gurney and Fogarty was their eighth consecutive top-10 finish, dating back to the qualifying race at Laguna Seca in May. The 99 has also finished in the top-5 at the last four races. Both drivers put in flawless drives and had a late-race caution not drained precious minutes from the clock, Fogarty could very well have challenged for the victory -- as he turned the race's fastest lap, a 1:22.679 at an average speed of 100.146 mph, just one lap from the checkered flag.

"I just didn't have enough time there at the end to catch up to the 23 car," Fogarty said. "I was pushing really hard and the laptimes show that -- we definitely had the pace to run the leaders down. We would have loved to get our first win here, but the consistency we're showing is great and tells us that the fundamentals are there. Alex did a great job during his stint and we're running up front all the time. We'll get that first win."

The setup woes that dogged the GAINSCO team all weekend seemed to dissipate, as Gurney reported that when he got a good run going, the car just started to handle better and better, allowing him to charge to the front after starting fourth. Gurney led 18 circuits of the 2.3 mile course before pitting to turn the car over to Fogarty. "It seemed to me that everyone else was falling off more in the longer runs and while we'd go a bit loose, the 99 Pontiac was always very manageable," Gurney said. "I was able to get around a lot of cars and turn very consistent laps."

The SPEED cameras showed Alex pulling off a daring "split-the-middle" move on the 23 and 60 cars early on, but Gurney was even more pleased about a spectacular pass on the 01 and 19. "I'm so stoked about that move -- going into Turn One, Luis Diaz and Memo Gidley got bottled up inside behind a GT and I just blew right past them both on the outside. It was two-for-one," Alex said with a grin. The second pit stop almost went badly, as Gurney lost radio communication with engineer Kyle Brannan. It took frantic pit-board waving and black flags, but Alex got the word in the nick of time and brought the 99 in.

For team owner Bob Stallings, the only thing he can hope for every week is to have a car that's capable of winning the race, and once again his GAINSCO team came through. "The team continues to perform extremely well but we just didn't get the breaks this week. We had the fastest car and the fastest driver on the track at the end of the race and if that last yellow hadn't have come out, things may well have been different," Stallings said. "There's three races left and we believe we can win at least one of them. At the end of the day, the GAINSCO Boys did everything they had to do to win this race, and they did it all well."

The GAINSCO team will return to action in two weeks at Watkins Glen International in upstate New York, for the Crown Royal 200 racing in support of NASCAR's NEXTEL Cup Series. Practice begins at 11 a.m. Eastern time on Thursday, August 10, with qualifying set for 4:30 p.m. The 82-lap, 200-mile or two-hour sprint race goes green on Friday, August 11 at 6:30 p.m. The race will be aired on a same-day tape-delayed basis on SPEED Channel at 9 p.m. Eastern time.

-www.GAINSCOracing.com

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Memo Gidley , Jon Fogarty , Luis Diaz , Bob Stallings