GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing, Gurney and Fogarty, third in New Jersey Motorsports Park American Red Cross 250
Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty both lead in No. 99 GAINSCO “Red Dragon” Chevrolet
GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing ran in the lead pack all day, and drivers Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty combined to lead 39 of the American Red Cross 250’s 117 race laps Sunday at New Jersey Motorsports Park where the team finished third to score its fourth consecutive top-three podium finish in the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Chevrolet Riley.
Although GAINSCO hasn’t finished out of the top-three in the second half of the 2011 GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series season, the No. 99 team still left New Jersey disappointed with the day’s results after building a huge lead at one stage in the middle of the race. A full-course caution period just after the team’s final pit stop, however, didn’t fall in GAINSCO’s favor and ultimately sealed the win for Scott Pruett and the No 01 TELMEX/Chip Ganassi Racing team.
“It’s pretty disappointing, actually, for us,” Gurney said. “With well under an hour to go we had a pretty big lead, 13 seconds or something like that, and we got that yellow. I was behind Scott at the end there and he was able to pull away on pretty old tires. I had a lot of rubber pickup, very little help in traffic – I really struggled with traffic today – and it seemed like I came up on the GT leaders at exactly the wrong time a few times. It just didn’t work through the traffic very well, and for me, the car didn’t hang in there at the end of a stint, it faded. Anyway, we got a podium on a really hot day, and the heat ended up not being too much of a factor, so If feel good about that.”
Fogarty started the race from third on the grid and ended up driving the opening 90 minutes of the timed 2-3/4-hour race.
“It was an interesting race, for sure,” Fogarty said. “I got shuffled back to fourth in my first stint, then found my way into the lead and was able to open up a gap in my second stint. It was a totally different strategy that we were doing relative to the 01 guys, they got a yellow at the end that allowed them to stay out and stretch it on fuel and make just two stops. Everybody else in the field stopped one more time than they did and that’s hard to overcome. A good effort all around and to get on the podium is good. We wanted to win but we came out of here, everybody is OK, and we survived the heat.”
The record heat and unbearable humidity that has plagued the Eastern United States all week didn’t spare New Jersey this weekend. Although the drivers had no issues at the wheel of the No. 99 GAINSCO “Red Dragon” during the race, Fogarty gave some credit to his teammates.
“I think the whole weekend the crew guys had to put out the greatest effort,” Fogarty said. “Friday was, I think, the hottest weather I have ever been in, Saturday was brutal and today was brutal as well. Those guys are in a garage, but it is still hot under there, so our crew guys really had their work cut out for them this weekend to just stay upright. Hats off to them.”
Fogarty led 22 laps, circuits 41 through 62, and pitted the No. 99 for his second and final stop in the lead. Gurney took the wheel, returned to the race in sixth, but quickly cycled back to the front and opened up to the biggest leads of the race when he set the pace for 17 circuits, laps 78 to 94.
“It seemed like we were good at the beginning, but for me, it just faded both times at the end in both stints I did,” Gurney said. “It just wasn’t fast enough at the end of both stints.”
GAINSCO has made huge gains in its performance since testing mid-season at Watkins Glen International in early June. The next race on the schedule will be held on the NASCAR short course at The Glen next month.
“The performance of the car was pretty good,” Fogarty said. “We did tune on it during the race and were able to make it a little bit better, but we still have work to do. We need to be fast all of the time, not just part of the time. There is always more that you can do. We will get on with it and do better next time.”
The No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Chevrolet Riley team remains third in the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series Daytona Prototype Team and Driver Championships with 250 points. They trail the No. 10 SunTrust Chevrolet Dallara team and drivers by 16 points while the No. 01, Pruett, and teammate Memo Rojas, lead the championships with 295 points.
By: bob stallings racing