LEXINGTON, Ohio – GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing and Jon Fogarty qualified fourth Friday in a tight starting field for tomorrow’s Diamond Cellar Classic at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course where Fogarty and co-driver Alex Gurney will be looking their third career victory at the Buckeye road course in the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance® Corvette Daytona Prototype.
Fogarty, who came into the weekend with four career poles at Mid-Ohio, including the last two races, turned a top lap time of 1:17.288 (105.230 mph) in Friday’s 15 minute session that was stopped once for an off-track competitor. “Not super excited about starting P4, it is not what we are accustomed to, but the session was a little bit fragmented,” Fogarty said. “I think we lost an opportunity on a couple of laps but we will look forward to tomorrow.
The car felt good, and each time I was able to get a lap, the times continued to come down. With a couple more maybe we would have been right there but the car is comfortable.”
The top five qualifiers were all Corvette Daytona Prototypes while Fogarty and the rest of the top four were within a quarter of a second of each other.
Gurney turned some practice laps Friday in the BobStallingsCars.com No. 99 but will not drive the GAINSCO “Red Dragon” again until the closing half of tomorrow’s race. The Diamond Cellar Classic is one of the few events on the 2013 schedule that does not have a race-morning warm-up practice session scheduled.
“I feel pretty good, we don’t have a ton of track time this weekend, so we are kind of done until the race, but we are pretty close,” Gurney said. “We just need to go through the data hard tonight and try and find that last little bit because generally the car feels pretty good.”
GAINSCO, Gurney and Fogarty scored back-to-back race wins at Mid-Ohio in 2007 and 2008 and the “Red Dragon” team still has a series-leading five Daytona Prototype poles on the Buckeye road course. In addition to Fogarty’s four poles, Gurney won the pole with GAINSCO at Mid-Ohio in 2005.
A third win at Mid-Ohio would help GAINSCO’s bid for a third set of GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series Championships to go along with the 2007 and 2009 team and driver titles.
Gurney and Fogarty head into this weekend’s race second in the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series Championships, trailing leaders Jordan Taylor and Max Angelelli by just two points, 148 – 146. The BobStallingsCars.com No. 99 GAINSCO “Red Dragon” also has 146 points in the team standings to rank third behind the Chip Ganassi Racing No. 01 entry’s 147 and Wayne Taylor Racing’s No. 10 of Taylor and Angelelli that leads with 148 points.
A Mid-Ohio win could possibly set off a string of success for GAINSCO. The Diamond Cellar Classic is followed by the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen, another winning and top track for the “Red Dragon” team.
“Mid-Ohio is a great track for us and I am feeling good about our 99 race car and the GAINSCO team,” Fogarty said. “The next few tracks suit us so it’s time to make hay while the sun shines.”
As much as GAINSCO, Gurney and Fogarty love Mid-Ohio, the 2.258-mile road course is still very challenging. “Turn 1 is always a big challenge, very quick and easy to miss your line slightly,” Gurney said. “From Turn 10 to start finish is also tricky because how you approach Turn 10 has a knock-on effect on 11-12-13.”
A completely different track could greet GAINSCO and the competition tomorrow. “Mid-Ohio can change a lot over the course of a weekend but I think we have a good handle on the track,” Fogarty said. “Every team is moving ahead on their particular engine/chassis/body package, as are we. The Riley-bodied cars have done something recently that is getting them additional downforce, so I expect them to show well at Mid-Ohio, but there is more to a race than aero. We will do our best to maximize every element.
Some of the most exciting aspects of GAINSCO’s weekend might take place inside the meeting room of the team transporter. “No part of the track really gives you the fits,” Fogarty said. “The fits will be taking place in the engineering office trying to decide on an aero configuration for the race!”
Bob Stallings Racing