GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing, Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty looking for third win at Mid-Ohio and in 2011
GAINSCO “Red Dragon” brings maximum momentum to Ohio after Montreal win
LEXINGTON, Ohio (September 14, 2011) — GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing, and drivers Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty, will shoot for their third victory of 2011 and third career win at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Chevrolet Riley at this weekend’s season-ending GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series EMCO Gears Classic at Mid-Ohio, September 16–17. The featured 2-3/4-hour timed EMCO Gears Classic sprint race can be seen live on SPEED this Saturday, September 17, at 3 p.m. ET/Noon PT.
GAINSCO, Gurney and Fogarty scored back-to-back victories at Mid-Ohio in 2007 and 2008, and have a pair of GRAND-AM Rolex Series victories to their credit this season, including the most recent series race last month in Montreal. Fogarty won the pole for that event in the No. 99 GAINSCO “Red Dragon” and then joined Gurney in co-driving to a convincing win in the two-hour sprint race on Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. GAINSCO scored its first victory of the season in July at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and brings the momentum of both victories – and a third-place finish in between at New Jersey Motorsports Park later in July – to one of the team’s best tracks on the GRAND-AM Road Racing circuit at Mid-Ohio.
My motivation for winning this last event in a convincing fashion is that I want momentum going into 2012.
“We are closing strong yet again this season,” Gurney said. “Montreal was very exciting for us as we again made some big strides with our car and the team executed beautifully. We are definitely on a high heading to Mid-Ohio and it is certainly our intention to win. We have everything we need to make it happen.”
A win this weekend would give GAINSCO victories in a full one-quarter of this year’s 12-event race schedule, but that achievement alone is not the primary focus heading to Ohio.
“I have not really thought of it as winning a quarter of this year’s races,” said Fogarty, a two-time Mid-Ohio pole winner in 2007 and 2009. “My motivation for winning this last event in a convincing fashion is that I want momentum going into 2012. Our performance in the first half of the year was forgettable. I would like to put everyone on notice that the 99 team is back on its game and that we are serious about not only now, but the future as well.”
The future for GAINSCO includes the all-new DPG3 generation Riley Daytona Prototype chassis that teams will take delivery of later this year. It will be the first major change in chassis equipment for GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing since entering the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series early in the 2005 season. This weekend’s finale at Mid-Ohio also marks GAINSCO’s final run in its soon-to-be-retired Riley XX, one of just two such race cars the team has used for more than six full seasons of racing.
“The Riley has been a fabulous chassis for us from the moment we entered the series,” Gurney said. “With 15 race wins and two championships for a small team like ours, we owe a lot of that to Riley. I can’t wait to get into the 2012 car!”
The final race of 2011 is the next order of business for GAINSCO, however, and some improved performance in the team’s current Riley Chevrolet package since a mid-season test at Watkins Glen should continue to produce results at Mid-Ohio.
“We have had good pace the second half of the season,” Fogarty said.” Having capitalized on that in Montreal with a race win is a great way to head into the final event of the year at Mid-Ohio. Our basic package since The Glen test is an improvement across the board, so we will be better at Mid-Ohio now than if we had raced there at the start of the season. Having said that, it is a tricky place to get right, so many corners and any imbalance really adds up. The track changes a lot over a weekend, and we are racing at a cooler time of the year, so all of that combined will challenge us for sure. Even so, the GAINSCO team will be able to overcome those things and put out a good race car.”
Gurney also finds Mid-Ohio challenging but not insurmountable.
“I think we’ll need every piece of information that we’ve gathered over the season to put the best car on track on Mid-Ohio,” Gurney said. “Practice time will be limited and the surface there can be a little unpredictable, so we’ll need to make quick judgments to get the most out of the car.”
The quick-to-change nature of Mid-Ohio is another challenging characteristic of the classic Buckeye road course.
“Probably the changing course conditions, and the strategy, bring the biggest challenges at Mid-Ohio,” Fogarty said. “It is a tough place to overtake, so you need a car that will be able to run up front from the drop of the green, and then make sure it stays there through the pit sequences. Much the same as most tracks, but with the limited overtaking areas, even the fastest car is not a sure winner if you have to battle from the back. We also must not second-guess ourselves if the car changes session to session, as we could chase the track down a path we may not want to be on.”
The No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Chevrolet Riley team solidified its third-place ranking in the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series Team Championship standings with the Montreal victory. The No. 99 team heads to Mid-Ohio with 304 points and a 12-point margin over the fourth-ranked No. 5 Action Express Porsche Riley.
A two-day event, the EMCO Gears Classic schedule includes practice and qualifying on Friday. Race day Saturday starts with a morning warm-up final practice at 8:40 a.m., the last on-track activity for the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series until that afternoon’s race at 3 p.m.