GAINSCO showed well in recent testing at IMS and the Brickyard Grand Prix would be the ideal race for the No. 99 GAINSCO “Red Dragon” team to continue to get its 2012 racing season back on track. The team earned a season-best runner-up result for the second time this year one race ago in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen but even that needed finish was tempered by a near victory. Gurney and Fogarty settled for second after leading a combined 55 race laps.
“Watkins Glen was a heartbreaker from my perspective but we can take comfort again in the fact that we were competitive throughout the race and ended on the podium at the end of six hours,” Gurney said. “We’ve been knocking on the door for so many races this year that it is only a matter of time before we break through to get a win or some wins.”
Along with GAINSCO and Fogarty, Gurney is an Indy favorite not only for his on-track performance but also for the famous family name his father Dan Gurney in part established in the Indianapolis 500. When Alex Gurney takes to the wheel of the No. 99 in Friday afternoon’s race, it will mark the first time in 42 years that a driver named Gurney will compete in a race at IMS. Dan Gurney retired in 1970 after finishing third in the Indianapolis 500, after back-to-back second-place finishes in 1968 and 1969, but later came back to win the race as an owner with his All American Racers (AAR) team, in addition to three wins in total with his famous Eagle races cars in ‘68, 1973 and the 1975 AAR victory.
“Finally getting to race at Indy, especially with so much of my own family history there, will be a dream come true,” Gurney said.
Fogarty also comes from a California-based racing family and is well familiar with the legend of both the Indianapolis 500 and the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
“The history at Indianapolis is almost as old as racing in America,” Fogarty said. “The place is gigantic and the enthusiasm surrounding the place is just as big. Our tests had a lot of buzz so actually racing at Indy will be incredible.”
GAINSCO’s podium in the Sahlen’s was the team’s first in more than three months after a second-place finish at Barber Motorsports Park in late March was followed by a tough-luck stretch that saw the team fail to finish three of the last five races before The Glen. That race was immediately followed by testing at IMS, a critical two-day session considering the Brickyard Grand Prix itself is only a one-day event.
The primary purpose of the test was to put the Continental Tires produced specifically for the Indy race through some full-stint sessions. The IMS track surface is known for being hard on tires but the special DPI (Daytona Prototype Indy) tires Continental has provided performed well, particularly after the non-stop practice sessions put a lot of rubber down on the race track over the two days. This time around, teams will practice, qualify and race all in one day on Friday.
“The tires performed quite well at our most recent Indy test,” Gurney said. “Although, because of the nature of the race weekend being a one day event, we are going to have to make a few educated guesses as far as how we will use the tires.”
Gurney sees some similarities between the IMS road course and the similar infield configuration used at another famous American speedway.
“The Indy track, being a ‘roval,’ is a bit like Daytona as far as setting up the car,” Gurney said. “It actually has some very nice mid-speed corners that are very unique.”
GAINSCO has reluctantly all but conceded the 2012 GRAND-AM Rolex Series Championship after a tough season so far, but the No. 99 team traditionally comes on strong in the final half of each year’s racing season. Indy will be followed by a return to Watkins Glen for the traditional August NASCAR short course race, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and the season-ending race at Lime Rock Park. GAINSCO has won at least once at the first three tracks and has been competitive at Lime Rock Park where Daytona Prototypes have been competing only since 2010.
“We’ve had a little time off since our June stretch run so this does feel a little like a new start again for these last five races,” Gurney said. “We should be able to contend for the win at all these remaining events.”
Source: GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing