GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing ready to roll for the 50th Anniversary Rolex 24 At Daytona after solid Rolex Roar test
GAINSCO Auto Insurance Corvette Daytona Prototype ranks fourth in three-day run
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (January 8, 2011) — GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing is as ready for the Rolex 24 At Daytona as it can be after a safe and successful Roar Before the Rolex 24 At Daytona test session this weekend at Daytona International Speedway (DIS). Alex Gurney, Jon Fogarty and Memo Gidley all drove the team’s brand new No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Corvette Daytona Prototype in the three-day DIS test, January 6 – 8.
Since the latest version of the No. 99 GAINSCO “Red Dragon” is less than a month old, the team maximized track time and learned as much as they possibly could about its new car in the productive test on the legendary 3.56-mile DIS road course. With no additional practice sessions scheduled before the 50th Anniversary Rolex 24 At Daytona, January 26 – 29, GAINSCO and its drivers will quickly shift their focus to pre-race preparation, planning and strategy.
“We ran the whole time without any show stoppers,” Gurney said. “We got through a lot of laps, so we have a lot of information to draw on. We are still learning about how the tires work with this car, and that is kind of our one question mark at this point. We did get to do a full fuel run, the whole stint, so I think we got a lot accomplished. The car is pretty quick so we feel pretty good about it.”
The three-day Rolex Roar was the longest test GAINSCO has had so far with its new Corvette Daytona Prototype after a pair of two-day sessions – including one in Texas and another the week of Christmas at Daytona – late last year.
“The team has done a tremendous job,” Fogarty said. “They worked through the holidays and we threw a lot of issues at them that you need to sort out for a 24-hour race, and they did a good job. We still have a few lingering ones, and the more we run, the more stuff seems to come up. Our engineer said we are playing the game ‘Whac-A-Mole’ a little bit. You get one down and another one pops back up. There is a little bit of that going on, but we are definitely pleased with the progress that the guys have made. We found some good pace and we are definitely getting a handle on it. I am encouraged that we used almost all of the track time this weekend, but it’s never enough when you are working with a new car.”
Although GAINSCO will be contesting its seventh consecutive Rolex 24, and sixth straight with Gurney and Fogarty as lead drivers, a new addition to the team this year is recently signed driver Gidley. The veteran road racer has winning Daytona Prototype experience but will be making his first start with GAINSCO later this month.
“I feel good,” Gidley said. “Everything is going really smoothly it seems. Still some issues to work out, I would say, but the consistency, and how the car feels over the course of a long run, is good. It’s good on old tires and mechanically we have not had any real problems through the test. We’ve just run laps and kind of stuck to our plan. I am super optimistic. For me, it is the best shot I have yet at the Rolex 24 with GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing.”
Overall speed and lap times were a secondary concern for GAINSCO at the Rolex Roar as the team and drivers did what they could, when they could, to discover and determine the ideal race setup in preparation for the Rolex 24. Team owner Bob Stallings was pleased with his new car’s performance and overall progress at the Rolex Roar.
“I feel really good about it,” Stallings said. “The car is way beyond where I thought it would be at this point. I really thought it was going to take up until the last practice right before the race to have a general idea where we were, or a sense of comfort, but the drivers are pretty happy and the car is certainly drivable. It’s obviously not perfect, they are never perfect, but all in all, it is pretty doggone good. We’re encouraged.”
Despite the emphasis on development, setup and consistency this weekend, GAINSCO was still happy with its relative speed in comparison to the rest of the field. The No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Corvette Daytona Prototype ended up fourth overall for the weekend based on its Sunday morning lap time of 1:41.541 (126.215 mph).
With on-track testing over, GAINSCO’s drivers will now shift to personal preparation and fitness to get ready for the Rolex 24 At Daytona. “Leading up to this race I just really try to ramp it up, especially at first, I just go overboard with training,” Gidley said. “As we start getting toward the race week I start tapering it back a little bit, stock up on sleep, and just start getting prepared. Just being prepared puts me in a nice calm state of mind. It’s exciting for me because I can just focus on one thing, which is to be prepared and help win the Rolex 24 for GAINSCO.” Always in top shape, Fogarty just plans to rest up and stay healthy. “I am just going to kind of take it easy, store up on rest, and not wear myself down between now and then. It is hard to do with two little kids back home, and all that stuff, but I am fortunate that I have a little time off here with the family before the race.”