GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing's No. 99 "Red Dragon" tops Friday afternoon practice at the Roar Before The Rolex 24 At Daytona DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 8, 2009) -- Alex Gurney topped the afternoon times sheets at Daytona International Speedway ...
GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing's No. 99 "Red Dragon" tops Friday afternoon practice at the Roar Before The Rolex 24 At Daytona
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 8, 2009) -- Alex Gurney topped the afternoon times sheets at Daytona International Speedway Friday in the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Chevy Riley to cap a productive opening day of practice for the team at the Roar Before The Rolex 24 At Daytona. Gurney's top lap time of 1:41.761 (125.942 mph) out paced the rest of the Daytona Prototype field as teams and drivers persevered through unseasonably cold temperatures and sporadic sprinkles all afternoon.
"I think it was a good day," said Gurney, the 2007 Rolex 24 At Daytona pole winner. "I did get to run quite a bit in the wet there in the afternoon session, but it was kind of in between conditions really, so that was good practice. This is what we love to do, I am stoked to be here and it is nice to be on top for at least a session. This is certainly a better car than what we had last year at the 24."
Although the team lost some time in Friday morning's opening practice session due to some minor mechanical issues, GAINSCO and its drivers still managed to complete a routine but thorough schedule of pre-Rolex 24 preparations.
"We did a lot of work for the 24," Gurney said. "We got a lot of the stuff we are going to use in the race, like all of the brakes, set for that weekend. So that was mainly what we worked on today. We didn't really run a time in the morning but in the afternoon we seemed to be pretty good."
Gurney and Jimmy Vasser handled the driving duties for the team on Friday with GAINSCO's other lead driver Jon Fogarty slated to take his first laps of the season tomorrow. Vasser has not raced since last year's Rolex 24 At Daytona but had no trouble getting up to speed when he took the wheel in afternoon practice.
"The car felt great right away," said Vasser, who is making his fifth consecutive Rolex 24 start with GAINSCO. "Alex did the lion's share of the early running, bedding in a lot of brakes and working the transmission for the weekend, but the team made sure that I had more than my fair share of laps to kind of knock the rust off. The car was great and the Red Dragon feels a lot better than it did last time and I think that they have made a lot of improvements on the car."
The two-time reigning GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series Champions, GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing is looking for its first Rolex 24 At Daytona victory with the proven and returning driver line up of Gurney, Fogarty, Vasser and four-time reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion Jimmie Johnson. The teammates finished second in their first Rolex 24 together with GAINSCO in 2008 and backed it up with a seventh-place finish last January in the 2009 edition of America's premier endurance race. Johnson is not testing this weekend and will join the team on the opening day of the Rolex 24 on Thursday, Jan. 28.
GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing was the first team to file official entries for both this weekend's test and the 48th Rolex 24 At Daytona.