Virginia International Raceway
GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing and Jon Fogarty qualify second in “Red Dragon” for Bosch Engineering 250 at VIR Third-straight front-row start for Fogarty and GAINSCO Auto Insurance Chevy Riley
DANVILLE, Va. (May 13, 2011) — GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing and driver Jon Fogarty earned the team’s third-consecutive front-row starting position Friday at Virginia International Raceway (VIR) with a second-place qualifying effort for Saturday’s Bosch Engineering 250 in the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Chevrolet Riley. Fogarty, co-driver Alex Gurney and GAINSCO will be looking for their second career VIR victory and first of the 2011 season in tomorrow’s 2-3/4-hour timed sprint that starts at 3 p.m. local time.
... it’s just a lot of variables that can throw things a bunch of different ways ...
Fogarty, who qualified second last month at Barber Motorsports Park and on the pole for March’s Grand Prix of Miami, sealed the team’s third-straight front row berth of the 2011 season with a lap time of 1:45.138 (111.967 mph) around the 3.27-mile VIR road course.
“I feel pretty good about starting where we are,” Fogarty said. “We are very close to the front and I think we didn’t get 100%. You never want to say that, because that’s what a race team is supposed to do every time you go out, but we are still working on the difference between what we need to qualify and what we need to race. We’re learning every session.”
GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series teams are once again working through setup scenarios for the new Continental tires which are in use for the first time this season. Another twist is the threat of rain for tomorrow’s race. Friday saw cloudy skies and frequent misty and sometimes light rain conditions.
“I think it’s, at least for us, it’s a big unknown at this point,” Gurney said. “Jon did a good job in qualifying but we are still playing the tire game and trying to figure that out, and also looking at the weather. So it’s just a lot of variables that can throw things a bunch of different ways, so we are really trying to focus and make sure that we are on top of everything.”
GAINSCO’s best educated guess at a qualifying setup paid off on Friday.
“We had to make some guess work for qualifying and it turned out pretty well,” Fogarty said. “I think I know what we can do to go quicker in qualifying but that’s a moot point at this stage because now we have go to go racing, and really with these tires that’s a whole different story. So we are going to go and put our thinking caps on and try to come up with a setup that’s going to be good over the long run.”
A plus for GAINSCO is that the team’s Chevrolet engine is on the pace at VIR.
“The Chevys are really good,” Fogarty said. “For sure, ECR and Chevy have given us a powerplant capable of pull, capable of winning. We have got power to match and we are just going to try and come up with something that allows us to put all of that power to the ground through these Continentals. That’s really going to be the key.”
Another key factor may be how well the No. 99 GAINSCO “Red Dragon” performs in the rain, but a wet race doesn’t worry either driver.
“I think Jon and I have always loved the rain, so it might actually be good at this point,” Gurney said.
Continental’s rain tires get high marks from the GAINSCO team.
“The Continental rain tires are quite good,” Fogarty said. “VIR has some hair-raising puddles that are in some of the faster sections of the track, but it will be the same for everybody. We will have to just wait and see, but I think we will be in good shape wet or dry.”
GAINSCO, Gurney and Fogarty co-drove to their only VIR victory in 2009 to start a four-race winning run to the team’s second GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series Daytona Prototype Championships. The No. 99 team also finished second one race ago at Barber which helped make up for disappointing 12th and eighth-place results in the year’s opening races at Daytona and Miami, respectively. They have moved into the top-five in the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series Daytona Prototype Team Championship standings for the first time this season with 74 points, just two points out of fourth place and within six points of second place. Another top-three run in tomorrow’s race would provide another needed boost in the championship chase.
This weekend’s Bosch Engineering 250 takes place a full month after the last round at Barber. “I got to do a little motorcycle riding with my Dad as well as peak in on the neat things that always seem to be going on at his company,” said Gurney, in reference to his father, Dan Gurney, and his famous AAR (All American Racers) shop in Southern California. “I also had some good family time. My little four-year-old Natalie is doing great, she likes to tell me all about the planets, and she informed me that her favorite planet is 'Earth.' My one-year-old Savannah is just impossibly cute and she enjoys smashing things. It’s been so much fun to see her grow by the day.”… Fogarty also packed in some quality household and family time during that last big gap between races before the summer stretch. “I have had a bit to do around my property, as is always the case come spring,” Fogarty said. “Fired up the irrigation system, brush clearing and the like, ripping up some landscaping and putting in a garden. The weather in Oregon has been favorable for some longer bike rides as the snow is melting off a lot of the trails. But we had snow one morning this week, so as usual we are having a very sporadic spring. We also took the kids to the Portland Zoo. I am excited to get things under way with more frequent races, but this year seems to be going from 0 to 100% in no time flat. I was home 25 of the last 30 days, and starting on the 11th of April I will be away from home 25 of 30 days. The rest of the year will be fairly normal racing wise, but the schedule is always full with a family.”