GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing, Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty ready for rebound in Grand Prix of Miami
HOMESTEAD, Fla. (March 2, 2011) -- Ready to rebound after a disappointing result in the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona, GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing, and drivers Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty, are not about to let the toughest track on the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series tour stop them from renewing their 2011 championship pursuit in this weekend's Grand Prix of Miami at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The 2:45-minute timed sprint is the second event on 2011's 12-race schedule and will air live on SPEED this Saturday, March 5, at 12 p.m. ET/9 a.m. PT.
Although Gurney and Fogarty drove the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Chevrolet Riley to a third-place finish last year at Miami and a championship-clinching fourth-place result in 2009, the ultra-tough 2.3-mile Homestead-Miami road course circuit has always been among the team's toughest challenges.
"We want to conquer the place," Fogarty said. "The team is not going to get down just because there is a challenge. It's quite the opposite, I would say. I am ready to put this one to rest."
The configuration used for the Grand Prix of Miami includes all but the first two turns of Homestead's NASCAR oval track along with a tight, tricky infield-road-course section. It's the oval-track sections, however, that put a heavy load on race cars in the steep corners and a premium on horsepower on the straights. Homestead is also notorious for being harsh on tires and typically hot tropical conditions. It all adds up to one of the biggest challenges of the year for the entire GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing team.
"We have some ambitious plans setup-wise that we are going to experiment with, so I am very much looking forward to that," Gurney said. "We are all solely focused on this year's championship so we realize we need to get the best possible result at Homestead. We have also been going to counseling to try to get over our Homestead-phobia, so I think soon it will be our favorite track."
January's season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona moved off to a solid start with Gurney running as high as third in the race's opening stint before unexpected and chronic brake issues emerged and plagued the team to the finish. The GAINSCO "Red Dragon" was also heavily damaged in a brutal bump-and-run by Juan Pablo Montoya, and that repair job alone put the team 20 laps off of the lead pace. Despite the string of setbacks, GAINSCO, Gurney, Fogarty and Rolex 24 teammate Jimmie Johnson stayed focused and recovered to finish 15th overall and 12th in the Daytona Prototype class.
"The Rolex 24 was no good," Fogarty said. "We solved all of the problems of past years only to have new problems crop up. We had great reliability in the motor and drive train department, which is good, and to the bulk of the competition, I felt like we had the best pace in the banking in several years. I am very pleased and encouraged by that, and it should make the remainder of the season less of a challenge than the past few years."
Both Gurney and Fogarty credit their improved Chevrolet Riley race car package to GAINSCO's new relationship with ECR Engines and the return of General Motors to the GRAND-AM paddock.
"With the troubles we ran into at Daytona, I feel like we are more motivated than ever to get back to the front of the field," Gurney said." I think the team has really knuckled down and we've all really tried to understand everything that we could learn from the Daytona 24, and also some of our past issues at Homestead. Also, our relationship with Chevrolet and ECR is better than ever and I think they will be a very big asset to us this year. I am confident that over the next few races, we are going to prove that we can be serious championship contenders for 2011."
GAINSCO, Gurney and Fogarty captured both the 2007 and 2009 GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series Daytona Prototype Championships with GM Pontiac engines. GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing is the only Daytona Prototype team in the Rolex Series that has stayed with GM since entering GRAND-AM competition early in the 2005 season, switching to Chevy power last year.
"Yes, GM is here to win, and our ongoing and lasting relationship with them has made their 'return' relatively seamless," Fogarty said. "I think we can pick up where we left off in 2009 and go win another championship."
With 19 points earned for the 12th-place Rolex 24 finish, GAINSCO is in the game heading to Homestead as far as the season championship is concerned. GAINSCO scored less than that after placing 22nd in the 2007 Rolex 24, but the team still went on to capture that year's GRAND-AM Rolex Sport Car Series Daytona Prototype Championships.
GAINSCO Auto Insurance has a Miami office that always shows up in full force to support their "Red Dragon." GAINSCO and Homestead-Miami Speedway combined to offer a special ticket promotion for the Miami office and more than 70 associates and their friends and families will be heading to the race on Saturday. GAINSCO executives will also host a group of key agent partners from the Southeast region on race day^a The five-week break between the Daytona opener and this weekend's race didn't seem that long to Fogarty. "It went by pretty quickly," said Fogarty, who lives in Bend, Oregon, with his wife Sara and young children William and Allison. "Not too much shaking at home. I have been splitting a lot of firewood, got the wood-burning stove in and keeping the house toasty. Seriously, splitting wood with a splitting maul is quite satisfying, but I am happy to be back at it, even if it is Homestead."