GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing and Jon Fogarty qualify on front row for Porsche 250 in No. 99 “Red Dragon” Corvette Daytona Prototype
Second-straight and fifth-career Barber Motorsports Park front-row start for No. 99
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (March 30, 2012) — GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing and driver Jon Fogarty will start on the outside of the front row for tomorrow’s GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series Porsche 250 at Barber Motorsports Park where the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Corvette Daytona Prototype was just a tick off of the winning pole time in Friday qualifying. The Porsche 250, the first GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series sprint race of the season, is scheduled to start at 12:15 p.m. local time this Saturday, March 31, and can been seen in same-day “virtual live” coverage on SPEED at 4 p.m. EDT/1 p.m. PDT.
The outside pole effort is GAINSCO’s fifth career and second-consecutive front-row start at Barber Motorsports Park following another second-place qualifying run by Fogarty last year. Fogarty also won the pole at Barber in 2007 and 2009 while teammate and co-driver Alex Gurney gave GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing its first-ever pole position in just the team’s third career race at Barber back in 2005.
Fogarty twice took the pole position in Friday’s 15-minute qualifying session but each time was just edged by the similar No. 90 Corvette Daytona Prototype of Richard Westbrook. Fogarty’s second flying-lap time of 1:21.494 (101.603 mph) looked good enough for the pole but Westbrook clocked in with a slightly quicker time of 1:21.420 (101.695 mph) just minutes from the end for the No. 90’s second-straight pole at Barber.
Fogarty, the all-time Daytona Prototype career pole winner with 19, was not disappointed with the competitive showing.
“It’s always important to start up front,” Fogarty said. “I always get the opportunity to qualify and want to improve on my record for pole positions, we just missed it by a bit today, but we are really happy with the progress we made relative to the No. 90 car from last year to this year when we were on the front row together. I think we have a much more competitive race car, and to be starting up front here, it’s not an easy place to overtake, is always a good thing.”
Gurney, GAINSCO’s usual closer, will take over from starting driver Fogarty at some point in tomorrow’s race and drive the No. 99 GAINSCO “Red Dragon” to the finish.
“I think we’re in pretty good shape,” Gurney said. “Qualifying was good, I think we improved the car another tiny bit, Jon did an excellent job, but it is tight at the top. There is a gap back to third, so we feel pretty good about it. There are lots of different scenarios that could go on strategy wise, so we are trying hard to cover all of our bases there.”
This year’s rules have also decreased by a few gallons the permitted fuel load GRAND-AM Rolex Series Daytona Prototypes can run.
“It’s a little bit different this year with the smaller fuel cell,” Fogarty said. “We are going to possibly have an extra pit stop, so the strategy is going to be new for us, but we will work through it, keep our head down and not make any mistakes.”
GAINSCO had a good run of success at Barber, including victories in 2007 and 2009, with the now retired Riley Mk XX chassis that has been replaced this year by the new Corvette Daytona Prototype.
“From what we have had in the past, it is a huge improvement,” Fogarty said. “This car is making good downforce, the balance is much nicer, it should be easier on the tires, and we have seen good performance from all of the Corvettes so far this weekend. The GAINSCO car is right up there at the pointy edge of the Corvette field, so we are happy to be in one.”
Although this is the earliest in a year that the Porsche 250 has ever been run, forecasts call for unseasonably warm temperatures in the 80s this weekend. Hotter temperatures will make an already challenging racing surface at Barber that much tougher.
“We just have to execute, make no mistakes and manage our tire wear tomorrow,” Fogarty said. “Kind of all the standard stuff, but it will be a tough race for sure. I expect a lot of competition, it’s not a huge field but everybody is pretty much quality. We are just going to try not to run the tires off of it, execute our pit stops and keep it clean.”