Promising test paves way for GAINSCO/Blackhawk Racing's Laguna Seca debut Three-day shakedown of team's Pontiac Riley Daytona Prototype yields atmosphere of cautious confidence for Gurney, Stallings heading into first Rolex Series...
Promising test paves way for GAINSCO/Blackhawk Racing's Laguna Seca debut
Three-day shakedown of team's Pontiac Riley Daytona Prototype yields atmosphere of cautious confidence for Gurney, Stallings heading into first Rolex Series race
Rocklin, Calif. (April 27, 2005) After spending the better part of a week putting the #99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Pontiac Riley to the test, GAINSCO/Blackhawk Racing owner and driver Bob Stallings and co-driver Alex Gurney are set to take on the challenge of the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series beginning Friday at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey.
There, the team will compete in the Road & Track 250, a grueling 112-lap, 250-mile test of endurance at the fabled 2.23-mile road course nestled in the rolling coastal hills of Northern California. The event will be the first-ever visit to the circuit for the Rolex Sports Car Series -- which suits the team nicely, as the playing field will be something closer to level. Every one of the 24 Daytona Prototype teams entered will be chasing a setup on a track they've never driven -- and Alex and Bob both have turned many laps at the circuit in CART and SCCA Formula Atlantic competition. "Our first race will very much be a learning experience for us on so many levels but we still hope to mix it up with the big boys," Gurney said. "Bring on Laguna!"
The team's three-day shakedown test at Putnam Park Road Course outside Indianapolis two weeks ago was a success by every measure, despite the inclement weather which limited track time for two days. Gurney and Stallings both turned competitive lap times and, most importantly, both got familiar with the handling quirks of the Daytona Prototype as opposed to the Formula Atlantics with which they are intimately familiar.
"Our car really does handle well and is easy to drive at speed right out of the box," Stallings said. "I'll still require more time in the car to be as comfortable as I am in my Atlantic but I'm confident that seat time will make it happen."
The team test not only helped prepare the car and drivers for competition, but also brought the team together for the first time. Stallings said he was impressed with the chemistry already developing among the 10-man crew, helmed by team manager Mark Lubin.
"I can't say enough about each member of our team. They each bring their own special value, experience and enthusiasm to the party," Stallings said. "There is no question that this group of guys is capable of producing a high level of achievement. Time will tell whether or not we take advantage of the unique situation we all are in."
Alex echoed those sentiments, saying the way the team came up to speed so quickly was thoroughly impressive. "They really made a big effort because there was so much ground to cover in such a short span of time. We picked the car up from Riley's shops on Monday and were out running by the end of Tuesday!"
Bob, Alex and the team will be looking for a competitive learning experience at Laguna Seca, giving the team a solid foundation to build upon for the remainder of the 2005 Rolex Sports Car Series season.
"The bar has been set pretty high this year -- it will certainly not be easy to win," Stallings said. "It is possible to do well, but it will take focus and a strong and determined will to win."
GAINSCO/Blackhawk Racing's Daytona Prototype odyssey will begin Friday at 10:30 a.m. Pacific time, when the #99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance/Wells Fargo Pontiac Riley rolls out of the pit lane in Grand American competition for the very first time.
Fans can watch the team's Rolex Sports Car Series debut at the Road & Track 250 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, live on SPEED Channel, May 1 at 3 p.m. Eastern time. Tickets to the event can be purchased by calling 1-(800) 327-SECA or by visiting the track Web site at www.laguna-seca.com.
Blackhawk Motorsports has been committed to excellence in road racing since its formation in 2001. The team will debut the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance/Wells Fargo Pontiac Riley in the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca April 29-May 1. Owner/driver Bob Stallings has captured multiple race wins and the 2004 SCCA Formula Atlantic National Championship, while co-driver Alex Gurney the son of road racing great Dan Gurney is a veteran of Toyota Atlantic and British Formula 3 competition. The team is supported by GAINSCO Auto Insurance and Wells Fargo Private Banking, and proudly partners with Pontiac, Riley Technologies, BBS Wheels, Sparco and Ringers Gloves. For more information, visit the team's Web site at www.GAINSCORacing.com.
The primary sponsor of the No. 99 Blackhawk Motorsports Daytona Prototype is GAINSCO Auto Insurance, a Dallas, Texas-based auto insurer which distributes policies through a network of independent agents in Florida, Texas, Arizona, Nevada, and California. GAINSCO Auto Insurance is a growing company in the automobile insurance industry and plans to use the racing program as a central feature of its "Are You Driven?" marketing theme that is intended to build brand awareness and advance its distribution strategies.