ALEX GURNEY, JON FOGARTY AND GAINSCO TEAM LOOK FOR SECOND BRUMOS PORSCHE 250 WIN DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 2, 2009) -- The second half of the 2009 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series season begins this Fourth of July with the Brumos Porsche 250 At...
ALEX GURNEY, JON FOGARTY AND GAINSCO TEAM LOOK FOR SECOND BRUMOS PORSCHE 250 WIN
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 2, 2009) -- The second half of the 2009 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series season begins this Fourth of July with the Brumos Porsche 250 At Daytona where GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing, and drivers Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty will launch a full-on offensive in pursuit of the team's second Rolex Series Championship. Saturday's 70-lap/250-mile sprint, which will be run in the grueling heat and humidity of a typical Florida summer afternoon, can be seen live on SPEED at 2 p.m. ET.
Second in the championship standings after two victories in the year's first six races, GAINSCO is in its best mid-season points position in team history, but is still looking for better performance in the final half.
"We're at the halfway point in our championship and in second place," Gurney said. "We've had a few slip-ups in these last two events, but we've still been very competitive at every event. Everyone on the team knows exactly what to do at this point because we have been here before. We are all as focused as ever because we really want to win this championship."
GAINSCO, Gurney and Fogarty scored a convincing win in 2007's Brumos Porsche 250 in the midst of a dominating run to that season's Rolex Series Driver and Team Championships. The team won half of that season's 14 races and learned that a near-perfect performance is needed in each and every race to win titles.
"The consistency has not been there the first half," Fogarty said. "We have been up and down and that can't happen in a championship run. Consistency is no longer enough; we will have to win. We have done it before and I know the GAINSCO team can do it again. We are champions for a reason and we are going to remind everyone as to why that is so."
GAINSCO won two of 2009's first four races with convincing performances in the Bosch Engineering 250 at Virginia International Raceway in April and the Verizon Festival of Speed presented by SPEEDCOM at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in May. A bizarre DNF (Did Not Finish) and an extra pit stop in the last two races, however, cost GAINSCO the championship lead. In early June, after being spun off track in the Sahlen's Six Hours of the Glen, the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Pontiac Riley was forced to retire after track safety crews inadvertently damaged the undercarriage. Then two weeks ago, GAINSCO managed a third-place finish in the EMCO Gears Classic at Mid-Ohio, but an extra pit stop kept the team from challenging for victory.
"The Glen was just horrible," said Fogarty, who watched from the pits as Gurney was spun out of fifth place. "The fact that the field was so large really hurt our ability to gain points in the face of a DNF. We now find ourselves in a deficit and for the second half we are going to have to perform in every way."
A series-leading third win Saturday for GAINSCO would be the ideal start to the season's second half and avenge the narrowest of losses in last year's Brumos Porsche 250. Gurney was leading at the 2008 event as the checkered flag waved, only to be out-horsepowered by rival Scott Pruett's No. 01 TELMEX/Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley at the line. The margin of victory was a then Grand-Am record .081 seconds, but the finish was not in the order GAINSCO wanted.
"I think what happened to us last year at the finish is less likely," Fogarty said. "The distance that the Lexus closed in the span of the banking was enormous. I still think the other engines will be gaining once everyone is wide open on the banking, but I don't think it will be as obscene as last year. Just a tiny bit was all we needed last year and I believe we have made up more than a tiny bit."
A refurbished race car and some Grand-Am rules adjustments after the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona in January have made GAINSCO's Pontiac Riley more competitive with the rest of the Daytona Prototype field. That could bode well for an improved performance in this year's Brumos Porsche 250.
"We nearly won with a package that is not nearly as good as what we have now," Fogarty said. "So, from that perspective, I will say our prospects look very good, but I still expect the competition to be fierce."
Regardless of the result, Gurney knows that the Daytona spotlight will shine even larger than it usually does as the Grand-Am Rolex Series will race on the same day as the powerhouse NASCAR Sprint Cup Series for the first time.
"The fan turnout should be huge, and if we can put on our usual show, I think they will be dazzled," Gurney said.