New Jersey Motorsports Park
GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing qualifies third for American Red Cross 250 at New Jersey Motorsports Park
Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty set to defend 2010 N.J. win in No. 99 “Red Dragon”
GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing, and driver Jon Fogarty, qualified third Saturday for tomorrow’s American Red Cross 250 on Thunderbolt Raceway at New Jersey Motorsports Park (NJMP) where Fogarty and teammate Alex Gurney are ready to defend last year’s victory at NJMP in the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Chevrolet Riley. The American Red Cross 250 is a 2-3/4-hour timed sprint race.
After turning the fastest lap time in Friday practice, GAINSCO expected to challenge for the pole in Saturday’s qualifying session, but a firmer focus on winning tomorrow’s race may have sacrificed the top spot. Fogarty will grid on the inside of the second row tomorrow after his fast lap of 1:15.995 (106.586 mph) that he posted early in the 15-minute session.
“In the big picture, it’s not very important at all, but we still like to be up front,” Fogarty said. “I think I probably could have been slightly more aggressive the first half of my first flying lap, but we made a lot of changes on the car going into qualifying and I had to feel it out a little bit. That might have been the difference.”
With record heat and brutally high humidity, race planning, preparation and tire management have been a priority so far this weekend for GAINSCO.
“The changes that we made put us in a better direction for the race,” Fogarty said. “That’s what we are concerned about right now, we are starting toward the front and on the inside, and tomorrow’s going to be a grueling day. We just have to have a car that will go he distance. Qualifying is going to be a whole different story than the race. Ultimately, the car probably wasn’t ideal for qualifying, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.”
The American Red Cross 250 will likely be won by the team and drivers that have best prepared for the long-haul nature of a race in extremely hot conditions. Temperatures hit the high 90s again today and more of the same is expected Sunday.
“Tomorrow’s going to be gnarly for sure,” Gurney said. “It is definitely really slippery, and in the second half of a stint we have seen a huge drop off from everybody, even guys spinning, because they get loose. We are thinking more about the second half of a stint and we made a step in the right direction there.”
A repeat Sunday would make it two 2011 wins in a row for GAINSCO and give them a pair of consecutive back-to-back track victories. The No. 99 squad won the most recent GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series race two weeks ago at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca after also winning there in 2009, the last time the series raced on the California circuit.
A win this weekend would also give GAINSCO its first consecutive victories in a season since 2007’s record-setting championship run. GAINSCO did it twice that year, winning three-in-a-row at Watkins Glen, Mid-Ohio and Daytona in the summer before back-to-back victories later in the season on the Watkins Glen NASCAR circuit and at Infineon Raceway.
The No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Chevrolet Riley is third in the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series Daytona Prototype team and driver championships. GAINSCO has 220 points, 14 behind the No. 10 SunTrust Chevrolet Dallara and 40 markers behind the leading No. 01 TELMEX/Chip Ganassi Racing BMW Riley.
By: bob stallings racing