Gurney battles to seventh at Laguna Seca in damaged GAINSCO Riley MONTEREY, Calif. (May 6, 2006) -- A tricky and slippery Laguna Seca circuit did the GAINSCO team no favors on Saturday, but even with a broken rear spoiler, Alex Gurney never gave...
Gurney battles to seventh at Laguna Seca in damaged GAINSCO Riley
MONTEREY, Calif. (May 6, 2006) -- A tricky and slippery Laguna Seca circuit did the GAINSCO team no favors on Saturday, but even with a broken rear spoiler, Alex Gurney never gave up and manhandled the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Pontiac Riley to a 7th place finish in the day's 30-minute qualifying sprint race for Sunday's Road & Track 250 at the fabled 2.23-mile Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
On the very first lap, contact with the No. 10 SunTrust machine, driven by Max Angelelli, damaged the car's right rear bodywork, and for the rest of the race Gurney was forced to wrestle a recalcitrant and unwieldy racecar. "The car felt like it was going to spin in every corner," he said over the radio after the checkers fell -- but Alex kept the 99 pointed in the right direction and ended up only losing one spot from his 6th-place starting position.
"Every lap was a challenge because the car was extremely loose," Gurney said. "I'm happy that I was able to hang on and get the points -- we're thinking about the points race all the time now and that finish was very important. I was definitely happy to see the checkers."
The GAINSCO team moved up two places in the chase for the championship, to 13th overall, and team owner Bob Stallings is hopeful that in tomorrow's two-hour, 45-minute feature event, Alex and starting co-driver Jon Fogarty can bring the No. 99 home in position to vault back into the Top 10.
"Alex ran an absolutely brilliant drive, and if the car hadn't been damaged I'm quite sure he'd have been running right at the front with the leaders -- well, except for the Porsche," Stallings said. "We almost prefer starting seventh instead of sixth, because it means we'll be on the inside going into Turn 2, and in my racing experience when you're on the outside of Turn 2 you get into trouble. That's what we want to avoid, because we're really interested in picking up points and getting the GAINSCO team back up into the top-10 as we head to Phoenix for the GAINSCO Grand Prix, and the second half of the season."
Fogarty, who will start the No. 99 machine on Sunday, expressed cautious optimism for the race weekend. "It's going to be a tough fight because it's so difficult to overtake here, but we'll keep pushing and we know that we have a car that can run up front," Fogarty said. "We just need to run a clean race and get a solid top-5 finish."
Alex and Jon will take to the legendary Northern California circuit for Rolex Series final practice at 9:30 a.m. Pacific time. The Road & Track 250, scheduled for 112 laps or two hours and 45 minutes, will roll off the grid at high noon Sunday, and will be broadcast live on SPEED Channel starting at 3 p.m. Eastern time. Live race updates from the team are available at http://GAINSCOracing.blogspot.com, and Internet radio coverage and live timing and scoring are available at Grand-Am.com.