MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND CLASSIC FIRST DAYTONA PROTOTYPE RACE ON CONNECTICUT COURSE LAKEVILLE, Conn. (May 26, 2010) -- Reigning two-time GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series Champions GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing, and drivers Alex Gurney and Jon...
MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND CLASSIC FIRST DAYTONA PROTOTYPE RACE ON CONNECTICUT COURSE
LAKEVILLE, Conn. (May 26, 2010) -- Reigning two-time GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series Champions GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing, and drivers Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty, will take part in the first-ever Daytona Prototype race at Connecticut's Lime Rock Park this holiday Monday when the Memorial Day Weekend Classic debuts on the 1.50-mile configuration of the classic Connecticut road course. The race can be seen live on SPEED at 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT this Monday, May 31.
The 2-3/4-hour sprint, which also features the Rolex Series GT class, marks the first time GRAND-AM Road Racing's premier Daytona Prototype division has raced on Memorial Day weekend, generally regarded as the biggest weekend of auto racing in the United States each year. Although Gurney and Fogarty have raced in support-series competition on Memorial Day weekend in the past, this Monday's race marks the first time the pair of California natives will step into the national motorsports spotlight in a headline event during the May holiday weekend.
"Of course it's great to be racing on Memorial Day, but any day you go racing is a great day," said Fogarty, who has ALMS and Barber Dodge Pro Series experience at Lime Rock. "I think a lot of race fans have blocked off this weekend and have plans to watch as much racing as possible, and the addition of GRAND-AM to that program is great as we always have a good show. Crowds are great and Lime Rock always has them, so I am excited. I imagine we will have quite a few spectators who have never been to a live GRAND-AM Daytona Prototype event. The racing will be great and that is what road racing sports car fans want to see."
The Lime Rock Memorial Day race kicks off a tight stretch of two races in six days that will bring the 2010 GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series season to the halfway point of the 12-race schedule. Following Monday's race, the series moves to Watkins Glen, N.Y., for the Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen on Saturday, June 5. The No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Chevrolet Riley team is currently fifth in the team championship with 97 points after an up-and-down start to the season, but a pair of strong results next week could put the "Red Dragon" back in the thick of the title chases.
"Lime Rock will be a new track for the Daytona Prototypes and I think it could be a very good one for the GAINSCO team," said Gurney, who joined Fogarty in the No. 99 during GRAND-AM's open test at Lime Rock last month. "We had a pretty short test due to the weather but we were able to find an interesting direction with the setup that I think will pay off come race day. I'm optimistic that we can turn this season around and hopefully get back to fighting for wins."
Gurney and Fogarty came home fifth one race ago in the Bosch Engineering 250 at Virginia International Raceway (VIR) in what was just the team's second finish in the year's first four races. GAINSCO finished third in March's Grand Prix of Miami but that result came in between a pair of engine failures in the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona in January and two races ago at Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama. Despite the early season disappointments, Fogarty agreed that April's Lime Rock test was productive.
"Rain and cold weather cost us some track time at the test but we did find something I think will produce quick times," Fogarty said. "It will be tough with the race being a one day-event. If what we think we took away from the test is not the ticket, we will not have much time to adjust. I had not been to Lime Rock since 2005, and it was in a different car on the old surface with a slightly different configuration, so getting some laps to get comfortable was important. The essence of the track is there and the biggest change I noticed was how much better the front straight was as the front tires no longer come off the ground from all the bumps. The downhill final corner is still as fast as ever and a serious corner for sure."
Although the GRAND-AM Rolex Series has conducted one-day events the past few seasons, the experience does not make the task at Lime Rock any easier.
"Having our entire event on one day will be a big challenge," Gurney said. "We have to really take care of the car during the day because any big misstep could mean missing qualifying or the race. With the long time off, we're definitely itching to get back at it!"
With the last Rolex Series race at VIR on April 24, it will be almost five weeks since the Daytona Prototype and GT teams have been in action. And while the 2010 schedule will reach its halfway point next week at Watkins Glen a month earlier than in recent seasons, this year still seems to be dragging on a little for the GAINSCO team.
"The season seems to be going by very slowly," Fogarty said. "The time between races feels long, I imagine because I am so anxious to get back into the fight and get some points back. When you're behind and there is work to be done, it is frustrating to have to sit and wait. If we can get good results in these back-to-back events, it will be very helpful points-wise and in building momentum into the second half of the season."