GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing scores first podium finish with new “Red Dragon” Corvette Daytona Prototype at Barber Motorsports Park
Second-straight runner-up placing and fourth-career Barber top-three for No. 99
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (March 31, 2012) — GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing, and drivers Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty, finished second in Saturday’s Porsche 250 at Barber Motorsports Park, the team’s second-consecutive runner-up showing at the track and fourth career top-three podium finish on the scenic 2.3-mile Alabama road course.
The No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Corvette Daytona both started and finished second in the Porsche 250 as the “Red Dragon” was just off the pace of the similar pole and race-winning No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Corvette Daytona Prototype. Fogarty started alongside and trailed the No. 90 for most of his stint before Gurney took over and crossed the finish line 2.326 seconds behind the winners. The finish was the first podium showing for GAINSCO in its new Daytona Prototype in just the team’s second race with the car.
“We knew from last year that the No. 90 had something magic for around here,” Gurney said. “We were wondering if it was going to transfer over to the Corvette and it seems like it did. We feel like we gained on them, at least compared to last year, but they still obviously had the pace. Our car ran pretty good, the tires hung in there OK, but we were definitely trying to take it easy on them because we knew that at the very end of the stint they have a pretty significant fall off. Anyway, a good run for us and a good points day.”
The solid finish at Barber puts GAINSCO back into the early-season championship picture after a distant 13th place finish in January’s season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona.
“It is good to have the Corvettes up on the podium for Chevrolet, it is a big turnaround for the No. 99 GAINSCO car after our result at Daytona, so it is good to be up on the podium for sure,” Fogarty said. “We are going in the right direction for the remainder of this year. We had a clean start from second and were all spread out heading into Turn 1. I tried to hang with the No. 90 car for three quarters of the first lap but soon realized they had really good pace. I also noticed they were starting on fresh sticker tires, and I was starting on qualifiers, so I immediately switched to fuel conservation mode. I figured if we had a yellow and we all had to pit, we could gain an advantage by taking on less fuel. So I was trying to maintain position and save fuel, I handed it over to Alex, he did a great job, and we had our first podium of the year.”
A late caution that created a three-lap dash to the finish opened up the door for a possible race-winning pass, but Gurney never had a realistic chance to get by the No. 90.
“There’s always a chance, but restarts are tricky and anything can happen,” Gurney said. “You can pick up something on your tires, so you need to be careful, and I saw maybe halfway through the first lap that the No. 90 was getting away. From that point on I just tried to bring home second, it was more important at that point.”
In addition to the runner-up showings the last two years, GAINSCO, Gurney and Fogarty won the Porsche 250 in 2007 and 2009.
“We had the second quickest car and we finished second, which means we have to work to make the car a little bit better, and we will win,” Fogarty said. “The team is capable of putting together a car and engineering a car that should be fast. The high downforce circuits are going to be kind of the forte for the new Corvette. Some of the lower downforce stuff, like where we go next at Homestead, might be a little trickier, but we know for the bulk of the tracks we have a good piece. We are looking forward to moving forward.”
The encouraging second-place finish came in the debut weekend for new GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Lead Engineer John Ward.
“It’s a tough deal to come in after the season has started, but he has been excellent,” Gurney said. “The whole time he was really on his game, he pitched right in, everybody is super happy, so we are in good shape.”
An experienced and race-winning engineer, Ward fit right in with the team’s positive approach to racing.
“When everybody’s sole focus is to win, everybody is kind of thinking along the same lines,” Fogarty said. “It’s pretty easy, having John Ward on the team is great, and I look forward to coming up with more goodies for the car, and I know we will.”
Today’s finish has moved the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Corvette Daytona Prototype, and Gurney and Fogarty, back into the top-five in both the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series Team and Driver Championships. The No. 99 and its drivers rank fifth in the respective championships with 50 points, just five points behind rivals Scott Pruett, Memo Rojas and TELMEX/Chip Ganassi Racing, who finished third at Barber, and only 10 points shy of first place.