CHAMPS SHIFT FOCUS TO RACE AFTER FIRST FRONT ROW MISS IN NINE QUALIFYING ATTEMPTS BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (April 9, 2010) -- Defending Porsche 250 race and pole winners GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing and driver Jon Fogarty will start fourth in Saturday's...
CHAMPS SHIFT FOCUS TO RACE AFTER FIRST FRONT ROW MISS IN NINE QUALIFYING ATTEMPTS
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (April 9, 2010) -- Defending Porsche 250 race and pole winners GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing and driver Jon Fogarty will start fourth in Saturday's 2-3/4-hour race at Barber Motorsports Park after a Friday qualifying lap of 1:19.940 (103.578 mph) on the scenic 2.3-mile Alabama road course. GAINSCO, Fogarty and teammate Alex Gurney will be looking for their third victory at Barber in the last four years in tomorrow's race.
Although Fogarty and the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Chevrolet Riley were one of six Daytona Prototype teams to break the existing track record, Friday's session marked the first time the "Red Dragon" qualified off of the front row in a nine-race stretch dating back to last June at the Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen. GAINSCO qualified on the pole six times and second twice in the final eight races of 2009 in a successful run that included five consecutive poles to close out the season. GAINSCO did not attempt to qualify in the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona after a practice accident but came back to keep the front row streak going with Fogarty's second-place qualifying effort one race ago in the Grand Prix of Miami.
"I felt we got the most out of what we had today," Fogarty said. "We didn't really get a good reference in yesterday's session as to what the other teams actual performance level was and made some changes to the car that weren't really in the right direction. We still have a little bit of a gap to both of those other chassis manufacturers and the motor makes on the front row. We are going to improve on our package and that's all we can do. I think we have an idea on how to get a little more out of it."
In a rare front-row shut out for the Riley Daytona Prototype chassis - the first since 2006 - the No. 10 SunTrust Ford Dallara of Ricky Taylor and the No. 90 Porsche Coyote of Antonio Garcia qualified first and second, respectively, for the Porsche 250.
"We have seen the Dallara up front pretty consistently the last couple of years," Fogarty said. "The Coyote has definitely been making some strides too and has set some very fast lap times during races. We are a little bit frozen with the Riley because it has been dominant for so many years. We are kind of stuck back in the past and those guys are moving on into the future."
Sharing the card with the debuting IZOD IndyCar Series, track time is at a precious minimum this weekend at Barber. The GRAND-AM Rolex Series only had a pair of practice sessions yesterday and today before qualifying, and no pre-race warm-up is scheduled. The next time the No. 99 and the rest of the Rolex Series competitors take to the track will be for Saturday's race.
"Unfortunately, we have very little track time this weekend," Gurney said. "We are taking some shots at it but we just didn't quite nail the setup for qualifying. We know we can do everything else right. We can do good pit stops and we have one more chance to make a pretty big change before the race and hopefully get it right. We have won here before so we know how to do it, so we will try and make it happen."
Gurney and Fogarty co-drove the No. 99 GAINSCO Daytona Prototype to victory at Barber from the pole in 2007 and 2009 and were leading when the clutch gave out in 2008. Gurney also won GAINSCO's first ever pole position in the team's third career race at Barber in 2005.
"We will still be on the money for the race and the team always is," Fogarty said. "We have a solid car and we will be in contention for a win come tomorrow."