Alex Gurney And Lowe's/Gainsco/Bob Stallings Racing Qualify 11th For The Rolex 24 At Daytona Reigning Champions Persevere Through Handling Problems And Shift Focus To Race DAYTONA BEACH , Fla. (January 24, 2008) -- Reigning Grand-Am Rolex...
Alex Gurney And Lowe's/Gainsco/Bob Stallings Racing Qualify 11th For The Rolex 24 At Daytona
Reigning Champions Persevere Through Handling Problems And Shift Focus To Race
DAYTONA BEACH , Fla. (January 24, 2008) -- Reigning Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Champions Lowe's/GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing qualified 11th Thursday for this weekend's 46th Annual Rolex 24 At Daytona with 2007 Daytona Prototype Co-Champion Alex Gurney lapping the 3.56-mile Daytona International Speedway road course at an average speed of 125.450 mph (1:42.160 seconds).
After qualifying on the front row for every 2007 race -- including last year's Rolex 24 and 10 poles in total -- the qualifying effort was a disappointment, but sheer speed is rarely a factor in the Rolex 24. With qualifying behind them, the team has shifted its focus to Saturday's Rolex 24 and began installing the race engine and gearbox in the No. 99 Lowe's/GAINSCO Auto Insurance Pontiac Riley late Thursday afternoon.
"We have been chasing what we think are brake problems since the November test," Gurney said. "It could be a combination of still just not quite getting used to the new Pirelli tires but we haven't got to the bottom of it. I had a few clear laps but that was all I could manage. We still have a mountain to climb speed wise but that may play into our hands with this race."
The team will skip Thursday's night practice -- in addition to the engine and gearbox change, a light rain began to fall -- but Jon Fogarty, who joined Gurney in winning the 2007 Rolex Series title, was fastest in the evening run during Daytona Test Days earlier this month.
"You never want to qualify any where other than on pole, and that's because we are all racers at heart, but it really doesn't mean much and we are working for a race, we're not working for pole for qualifying for the 24," Fogarty said. "We are doing a lot of things outside of just making the car qo quick to prepare ourselves, and we are going to focus on the race. If we wanted to go for ultimate lap time, we know how to get the car there, but ultimately we are going to focus on a car that is good for the race."
Fogarty was first out in the No. 99 in Thursday's opening practice session while the other team drivers on the Lowe's/GAINSCO all-star lineup, Jimmie Johnson and Jimmy Vasser, also turned in ample practice laps Thursday.
While Alex Gurney and his teammates were on track Thursday, his father Dan Gurney and brother Justin Gurney were traveling to Daytona. The elder Gurney, who won the first major sports car race at Daytona in 1962, will be honored as the Grand Marshal for the 46th Annual Rolex 24 At Daytona. Among his duties will be presenting the winners' Rolex watches in victory lane on Sunday, and it goes without saying who Dan Gurney will likely be pulling for. Justin Gurney, Alex's older brother, is part of the management team of Dan Gurney's famous All American Racers (AAR) in Southern California-- Among the scheduled events for the Gurneys is a stop tomorrow afternoon at the Daytona International Speedway/ISC Archives that house volumes of racing memorabilia and history-- Schedule permitting, Alex Gurney may also give his father a lap or two around the historic DIS road course in the all-new Pontiac G8 Grand-Am Pace Car that Alex Gurney and Fogarty will officially unveil at Noon tomorrow.