GURNEY AND FOGARTY HAVE A WIN AND TWO RUNNER-UP FINISHES IN LAST THREE DIS SUMMER RACES DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 30, 2010) -- Two-time GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series Champions GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing, and drivers Alex Gurney and Jon...
GURNEY AND FOGARTY HAVE A WIN AND TWO RUNNER-UP FINISHES IN LAST THREE DIS SUMMER RACES
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 30, 2010) -- Two-time GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series Champions GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing, and drivers Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty, will be part of the high-speed celebration Saturday at Daytona International Speedway (DIS) where the Brumos Porsche 250 At Daytona will mark the 100th race of the Daytona Prototype era. Round eight of 12 races on the 2010 schedule, the 2-1/2-hour timed sprint on the 3.56-mile Daytona road course is scheduled to start at 11:15 a.m. local time, Saturday, July 3, and can be seen in virtual live coverage that day at 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT.
GAINSCO, Gurney and Fogarty have finished no lower than second in the last three runnings of the Brumos Porsche 250, including a come-from-behind win in 2007 that was part of that season's dominating run to GAINSCO's first GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series Daytona Prototype Team and Driver Championships. GAINSCO, Gurney and Fogarty picked up a second set of season titles last year, and join archrivals TELMEX/Chip Ganassi Racing as the only repeat Daytona Prototype Champions in GRAND-AM Rolex Series history. That is just one standout achievement for GAINSCO and its drivers in Daytona Prototype competition, and the No. 99 "Red Dragon" squad can certainly be counted as one the division's blue chip players as the milestone 100th race approaches.
"I think it's been a great adventure to be a part of most of the first 100 GRAND-AM races," Gurney said. "Just as a fan, I think GRAND-AM has put on some of the best races you could ever hope for, massively entertaining. In this age of aerodynamics, the GRAND-AM formula has managed to strike the right balance where cars can actually pass each other constantly throughout a race. As a competitor, it has been extremely rewarding to road race against some of the best names in the business. Every weekend is its own little war and we love to be in the fight. I look forward to all of our future battles!"
In addition to joining only the Ganassi team and its lead driver Scott Pruett as repeat Daytona Prototype Champions, GAINSCO and its drivers have several Daytona Prototype records to their credit. The list includes 2007's seven race wins and 10 poles, season records in both categories, and an unmatched run of front-row starts in every race that season. Fogarty is also the all-time Daytona Prototype pole winner with 13 top starting spots to his credit.
"It is a great series, very competitive with close racing most years, and all of this with several motor and chassis manufacturers winning races," Fogarty said. "Very few other series around the globe can make that claim and none can when you consider the budget on which we are able to do a full season. I am, of course, grateful to have had the opportunity to move into a top-tier series, as the timing of my open-wheel championships couldn't have been worse in the context of what was going on in open-wheel racing at the time. It's good to be an established part of the series and to hold records, but it still feels very fresh to me and I have a lot more I would like to achieve in GRAND-AM. I am just excited to be striving for these goals with a bunch of like-minded friends on the GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing team."
The immediate goal for GAINSCO this weekend is to score its first win of the 2010 season in the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Chevrolet Riley. The team has endured a variety of setbacks in the year's first seven events, but some recent progress and a new technical partnership on the engine front could combine to make one of GAINSCO's best races even better this weekend.
"The July Daytona race has been an event where we've always had an excellent car," Gurney said. "I had the fastest race lap last year despite not being all that quick down the chute. For whatever reason, it's been easier for us to nail the setup for the heat of this race as opposed to the 24-hour race where the temps are a little cooler. We led on the last lap the last two years, at least briefly, and both times lost out in the final stretches. We're trying hard on our end to be better on that front and we've recently seen some gains, so we're optimistic."
GAINSCO is now running a five-liter Chevrolet V8 prepared by ECR Engines and is looking forward to seeing how the motor performs at Daytona after some initial runs in the last three races on traditional road courses at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Watkins Glen International and Lime Rock Park.
"Personally, I feel like the BMW and the Ford have advanced further than the Chevy in the last year," Fogarty said. "They have the ability within the rules and physically to do so. I believe there is still low-hanging fruit, so to speak, within their specs. Not so for us; our gains are smaller and there are just no big things left to do without a rule change. But that is not to say we are not trying to maximize everything we can within the rules. It looks like some issues have developed for the BMW that should be of help to us, but Ford is always strong and a Porsche V8 won the 24 this year. So, we are surrounded by strong competition, but we don't mind that; in fact, we like it. We go for handling and strategy. Daytona is less of a handling track, but we can play the strategy game and try to maximize our straightaway speed to protect ourselves. I believe that is our play. Of course, straight-up racing hard is always one of our cards as well."
Another certain challenge this weekend will be Florida's trademark summer heat and humidity. Temperatures will be in the low to mid 90s with the heat index soaring well past 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Rain is a 40-50% probability every day.
"The biggest difficulty we'll face this weekend undoubtedly will be the heat and humidity," Gurney said. "We've become accustomed to all-out misery in the car, just swamp-like conditions, and I'm expecting plenty of that this weekend. We just do our best to stay hydrated and fit, and make sure that the cooling we do have doesn't fail."
The No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Chevrolet Riley is currently fifth in the 2010 GRAND-AM Rolex Series Daytona Prototype team championship with 172 points. Since Memorial Day, the team has finished sixth in each of its last three races at Mid-Ohio, The Glen and Lime Rock, in addition to a fifth-place run at Virginia International Raceway (VIR) in April. The best result of the season was third in the Grand Prix of Miami in March, but that result came in between a pair of engine failures in the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona in January and in April's race at Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama. The new ECR Chevrolet engine debuted two races after the Barber event.
- Fogarty put the oppressive heat and humidity drivers will face in Saturday's race into some regionally appropriate perspective. "We have been lucky enough to visit the NASA facility at Cape Kennedy a couple of times here in Florida and I have had a close-up look at the space suits the astronauts wear," Fogarty said. "Let's just say racing in a Daytona Prototype in the summer at Daytona would be worse than wearing one of those space suits on a fishing boat in the Bahamas while fighting a record Marlin on the line for a couple of hours. There is no escape and you cannot take a break, so there is a phobia sensation, almost like a panic, when it gets really brutal. Luckily, racing takes so much concentration that it doesn't allow you to pay too much attention, but that is only until a caution period, of course. It would be like doing strenuous exercise in hot weather in a heavy sweat suit, and then when it is time to take a break, you have to go sit in a sauna."
- GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing supported teammate Jimmie Johnson's bid to win a $100,000 Pepsi Refresh Project grant during the recent Mid-Ohio race weekend and it paid off. Johnson's idea received more fan votes than the causes supported by Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the Be The Match Foundation's Transplant Grants for Kids program was awarded the generous donation. "We would like to thank the GAINSCO/ Bob Stallings Racing team and all of their fans for their support of Jimmie's Pepsi Refresh Project," said Mary Barr, Executive Director of the Jimmie Johnson Foundation. "The votes certainly made a difference. The $100,000 will be used to help kids and their families with the overwhelming cost of a bone marrow transplant through the Be The Match Foundation."
- Gurney is also well on his way to winning a fan-vote-based contest of his own in an online poll currently posted on www.grand-am.com as part of the 100th Daytona Prototype race celebration. The poll asks, "Who do you consider the greatest (Daytona Prototype) driver thus far?" and Gurney is well up front with 56% of the votes cast in his favor as of Wednesday afternoon. None of the other drivers in the poll, which includes Pruett, Max Angelelli, David Donohue and Hurley Haywood, has received more than 16% of the votes.
- Johnson won his first top-tier road race two weeks ago in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Infineon Raceway and was quick to thank Bob Stallings, Gurney, Fogarty, GAINSCO Racing and the No. 99's Chief Race Engineer Kyle Brannan in his victory lane interviews. "It was very awesome of him to mention us," Fogarty said. "I am always at first surprised how quick he is, and then I remember what it is he does, what he has done and what he has accomplished, and I say to myself, 'Well, of course the guy is a bad ass.' Coming and running with us is a testament to his determination of being the best all-around Cup driver, period, end of story. I am sure he would like to be the best GRAND-AM driver if he could fit both series into his schedule. Having a relationship with that kind of driver is a dream. His attitude is like mine and Alex's in GRAND-AM, and that makes him a great fit in the GAINSCO team."
- Gurney was so sure Johnson would win at Infineon that he put his money where his mouth is. "I was so confident that he was due for a road race win that I put a large bet down on him at 15 to 1, which I thought were crazy odds for a guy that always seems to run up front no matter what," Gurney said. "I would say how much I won but it's kind of one of those 'if I told you I would have to kill you' deals, so I won't do that. People would also find out what a compulsive gambler I am, so I'll just leave it at that. It was extremely kind of Jimmie to mention us after his first road course Cup win and he certainly didn't have to do that, but it meant a great deal to all of us on the GAINSCO team. We've definitely learned a lot from him as well."