GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing overcomes hot and harried Lime Rock Memorial Day Classic for fourth-place finish
GAINSCO charges back to fourth after late driver change in Memorial Day Classic
LAKEVILLE, Conn. — GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing, and drivers Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty, handled a hot, humid and harried Memorial Day Classic at Lime Rock Park and overcame more than one setback to finish fourth in the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Chevrolet Riley in the holiday Monday sprint race.
After qualifying fifth earlier on Monday, Fogarty quickly moved the No. 99 GAINSCO “Red Dragon” into lead-pack contention in his race-opening driving stint. He ran as high as second before handing the No. 99 “Red Dragon” off to Gurney in a green-flag pit stop at the one-hour mark. The left front tire suffered severe wear during Fogarty’s shift but soon another problem – a bad cool suit hose connector – emerged just seconds into Gurney’s driving stint. He was forced to race in extremely hot and humid conditions with temperatures in mid-80s without the aid of his cool suit.
“I feel better now but I was definitely feeling sick in the car,” Gurney said after the race. “We couldn’t get the cool suit plugged in when I first got in and I drove the first hour or so without it, and by then I was just way overheated. One of the hoses was just on the ground, one of the two, so it took me awhile to get situated. I knew right away we had a problem and you can tell when that thing is working or not.”
Despite the wicked-hot temperatures inside the No. 99 GAINSCO “Red Dragon,” Gurney managed to not only get back a race lap lost during the driver change pit stop but also to lead four laps with just over 50 minutes remaining. The extreme heat ultimately got the better of Gurney and several other drivers, however, and he dashed into the pits while running third with about 30 minutes remaining to hand the No. 99 back to Fogarty.
“We had decent pace and I thought when we were running behind them we were at least as quick as the (race winning) No. 10 car, but they were on a different strategy, so it was hard to tell,” Gurney said. “I had a real hard time in traffic the entire day. In the end we lost one position by me doing that extra pit stop at the end, so not a terrible day.”
Fogarty rejoined the race in fifth and was able to move up one more position before the checkered flag. Gurney was treated for dehydration in the Lime Rock Park medical center and was released soon after the end of the race.
“We had a malfunction with the cool suit connector and that forced another driver change that wasn’t a pit stop we had intended to make,” Fogarty said. “All in all, we still finished fourth, even with that unscheduled stop, and we were in contention for a podium. We lacked a little bit of the pace of the faster cars but we were close. We think we have an idea of how to match them.”
The Memorial Day Classic kicked of a tough stretch of two races in five days for the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series. Teams and drivers are back on track this Friday for practice and qualifying for Saturday’s Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen at Watkins Glen International in New York. Leaving Lime Rock with the No. 99 GAINSCO “Red Dragon” in one piece and relatively ready for The Glen was an achievement in itself.
...we did try a pretty unconventional setup.
“Lime Rock is a tight place, with GT cars and everything, it would be pretty easy to have to come out of here with a lot of unnecessary work for the crew to handle before we run the six hour, but fortunately that’s not the case,” Fogarty said. “We had a trying weekend, but there are positives, the car we raced with was quite good and close to being a race winning car, and I think we have an idea of how to get there.”
Despite being slightly disappointed with the result, the fourth-place was GAINSCO’s second-best finish of the year after posting a second-place finish at Barber Motorsports Park in April.
“The car felt decent, it hung in there, and one of the things we were working on mostly was having a balance over an entire stint,” Gurney said. “I thought we made a little bit of a gain, I think we learned a little something, and we did try a pretty unconventional setup.”
The No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Chevrolet Riley team now ranks sixth in the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series Daytona Prototype Team Championship standings with 123 points.
Next up for GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing and the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series is next Saturday’s Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen. The six-hour endurance race starts at 1 p.m. ET.