GAINSCO, Alex Gurney, Jon Fogarty determined to put run of bad luck behind them
ELKHART LAKE, Wis. (June 20, 2012) – GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing, and drivers Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty, roll into Road America this weekend determined to put an end to a season-long run of bad luck and start a 2012 win streak in the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Corvette Daytona Prototype in Saturday’s GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series 250 Driven by VISIT FLORIDA. Round seven of 13 races on the 2012 schedule.
GAINSCO, Gurney and Fogarty, the 2007 and 2009 GRAND-AM Rolex Series Daytona Prototype Champions, have encountered a string of mechanical woes and competition-related issues that have kept them out of the win column so far this season. The most recent heartbreaker came two weeks ago at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course where an issue while leading knocked GAINSCO from winning contention for the second race in a row. The No. 99 GAINSCO “Red Dragon” was the class of the field in both qualifying and the race but an early power steering problem – related to a faulty Electronic Control Unit (ECU) – dropped them to a seventh-place finish in a race they seemed likely to win.
“The ‘Red Dragon’ was unbelievable at Mid-Ohio, so fast and consistent,” Gurney said. “What a horrible shame that we had that steering issue. This has definitely been our toughest season yet, just so disappointing when you know the car is capable of winning. We just have to keep at it, stay on top of any potential reliability issues and the wins will come.”
Further proof of GAINSCO’s pace and performance this year is Fogarty’s back-to-back poles at Mid-Ohio and one race prior in Detroit. GAINSCO was also leading the Motown race when a questionable “pit closed” call, and numerous on-track contact incidents with a competitor, led to a fourth- place result. A bright spot this season has been a second-place finish in Round 2 at Barber Motorsports Park but mechanical problems also emerged at the Rolex 24 At Daytona and the Grand Prix of Miami. Gurney was also taken out by rival Scott Pruett while battling for the lead in last month’s race at New Jersey Motorsports Park.
“Honestly, the luck – or lack of it – this year has gotten to the point that I don't even think about it,” Fogarty said. “When so many things beyond your control bite you, you just figure it is fate. So we all just look forward, recognize how incredibly good the 99 has been, and keep at it. The tide will turn and we will have the results. The entire GAINSCO team has been doing a great job and it is a shame that the results are what they are, but we won’t let the past deter us. We will continue to put our best foot forward and fight for wins.”
Fogarty’s pole lap at Mid-Ohio was nearly a half-second ahead of the nearest competitor while Gurney also lit up with a fastest race lap almost a second quicker than the next quickest car. That type of performance has put GAINSCO on the brink of victory this season but it could be a little harder to maintain that edge this weekend after some recent Daytona Prototype rule changes.
“With the recent RPM allowances for the Ford and BMW, Road America will be a much tougher test for the Corvettes, and particularly so for the race,” Gurney said. “You definitely need the straight-line speed there so we'll see how it goes, but we're confident that we can get the car handling very well.”
The GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing crew, led by Engineer John Ward, Crew Chief Link Smith and Team Manager Terry Wilbert, has done a great job getting the most out of team’s new Corvette Daytona Prototype this year.
“The team has been maximizing our package and Mid-Ohio is a track where our car is at an advantage,” Fogarty said. “Road America is quite a different place with far more fast straightaways. I have always said the more time we spend braking and turning the better we are. That is not exactly what Road America is about, but we know what we need to do with the car to maximize its strengths. If we get it right we will be competitive, but in GRAND-AM it is never easy.”
Saturday’s Road America race is the third of four races in June and kicks off the second back-to-back weekend stretch of the month. Mid-Ohio followed Detroit by one week while the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen at Watkins Glen International is on the schedule next weekend.
“Both Elkhart and Watkins Glen are fantastic, classic road courses,” Gurney said. “Both are probably a little more dependent on power and straight-line speed than the last few events but they both have some long and very challenging fast corners as well.”
After the tight and challenging Detroit event on the Belle Isle Grand Prix circuit, the consecutive run of races at Mid-Ohio, Road America and The Glen brings GAINSCO to a trio of favorite tracks.
“We are really fortunate to visit the best road courses in North America, and in addition to Mid-Ohio, Elkhart Lake and The Glen long course in particular rank at the top,” Fogarty said. “Elkhart is just a classic road course – at four-plus miles a lap it is almost a journey – and the there are several really long straights where the cars really get to scream. Both tracks lean toward horsepower over handling, but it is a good balance really, not like Daytona or Homestead. I really like both tracks and they are both great drivers’ circuits that take advantage of the countryside. I would not say they are totally different in any way, but Elkhart is more like long straights separated by distinct corners while The Glen is slightly more technical with some rhythm sections.”
The No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Corvette Daytona Prototype currently ranks seventh in the GRAND-Am Rolex Series Daytona Prototype Team championship with 146 points. Gurney and Fogarty have the same points total in the Daytona Prototype Driver championship but rank a couple of spots lower in that crowded title chase.