Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty rally No. 99 GAINSCO “Red Dragon” to needed finish
DETROIT (June 2, 2012) — GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing, and drivers Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty, overcame more than one contact incident and a controversial call to score a much-needed fourth-place finish in the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Corvette Daytona Prototype in Saturday’s Chevrolet Detroit GRAND-AM 200 at the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix.
The finish was GAINSCO’s first in the last three races and second best result in 2012’s first five events, behind only a runner-up placing at Barber Motorsports Park in March. Fogarty also led the opening laps of the race after winning a record-extending 20th career Daytona Prototype pole position in Friday qualifying.
A win on Chevrolet’s home turf was the goal this weekend, however, and the No. 99 GAINSCO “Red Dragon” seemed to be the car to beat after also topping Friday’s practice sessions. Fogarty pitted while leading the race but Gurney returned to the track in fourth after the team lost a few seconds dealing with a broken door latch in the driver change. From there, GAINSCO’s race seemed to unravel.
“The race was disappointing on a lot levels,” said Gurney, who took over from Fogarty 30 minutes into the two-hour sprint. “On the first stop we had the latch on the door break so Jon couldn't get out of the car, that cost us a few seconds on the driver change, and that was enough to drop us from first to fourth and into a lot of battles with the guys in traffic. Then on the next stop, the officials came on the radio and said the pits were closed, we were the only ones that followed those directions and we didn’t pit, we kept going straight through the pit lane. Everyone else did their pit stops despite that call and that put us further back.”
Fogarty led the race in each of the 19 laps he drove and at times built a lead of more than six seconds over the nearest competitor.
“I am disappointed we didn't win, we had the car today, but we had a lot go wrong,” Fogarty said. “Things were going good and then the race control mix-up really hurt us, and we couldn't seem to get things going our way. The confusion from race control about the pits being open was not a deathblow, it just added to what was already becoming a difficult day. We really wanted to win, that would have been the best thing for us.”
The final fireworks of the day came from another Daytona Prototype driver.
“I had an incident with Oswaldo Negri and he drove me into the wall,” Gurney said. “That was as dirty as a move as I have seen. He came and talked to me after and said that he didn't see me, but I am not convinced, it is frustrating. We managed to salvage things at the end by going to new tires and gaining a few positions, but a very rough day.”
The call to run a new set of tires for the race’s final 12 minutes helped seal the fourth-place finish. Gurney passed for several positions in the final dash to the checkered flag and GAINSCO earned a much-needed boost in its championship points total.
“If you had told me that we could come here and advance our position in the championship by three points, I would have said I would take that,” said Team Owner Bob Stallings. “We did, we advanced our position, we did not fall behind. We are mad about what happened but we will actually be fine. We can't get distracted or bothered by this. We need to wipe it out of our minds, we have back-to-back races coming up, and we need to keep our focus.”
Gurney and Fogarty, and the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Corvette Daytona Prototype, now rank seventh in the respective GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series Driver and Team Championships with 122 points, just 22 points shy of the leaders.
“We actually gained on the championship leaders,” Fogarty said. “It was a good recovery. I am glad we are racing again in six days. We are going to a bunch of great tracks that we like and ones where we have won this month.”