NO. 99 GAINSCO "RED DRAGON" SURVIVES RACE OF HARD KNOCKS AT LIME ROCK PARK LAKEVILLE, Conn. (May 31, 2010) -- Another GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series race full of on-track contact incidents and miscues and drive-through penalties in the pits...
NO. 99 GAINSCO "RED DRAGON" SURVIVES RACE OF HARD KNOCKS AT LIME ROCK PARK
LAKEVILLE, Conn. (May 31, 2010) -- Another GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series race full of on-track contact incidents and miscues and drive-through penalties in the pits saw GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing, and drivers Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty, persevere for another hard-fought finish in Monday's Memorial Day Weekend Classic at Lime Rock Park. Gurney and Fogarty both ran as high as second in the 2-3/4-hour timed race and finished in sixth place despite numerous contact incidents, an early-race penalty and a stalled engine during the team's final pit stop of the day.
"I thought the car was actually quite good and we were running second when things weren't going wrong," said Gurney, who drove GAINSCO's No. 99 "Red Dragon" in the final 90 minutes of the race. "We had a problem when we came in the pits for the last time and the engine died just as I was rolling into the stop. We just couldn't get it restarted, so we lost a bunch of positions."
Gurney, who dropped to eighth after the stall, repeatedly climbed back up in the running order after dealing with several more setbacks in the race's final hour.
"After one of the restarts I had a good run on Buddy Rice and David Donohue and was able to pass them both on the front straight, but I think it was Buddy that then ran into my right rear," Gurney said. "Then they told me I had some contact with Tracy Krohn, which I didn't notice, and that took the rear spoiler off, or at least half of it. That made it really, really difficult to drive. The last two corners are big aerodynamic corners and I was wicked loose in those. I lost a lot speed and faded pretty quickly. We finished but it was a tough day and not really what we were looking for."
Starting driver Fogarty took the green flag in the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Chevrolet Riley from third on the grid and the encountered the first of the team's major issues just two corners later. He had the inside line going through Lime Rock's famous Turn 1 and 2 "Big Bend" only to find fourth-place starting Memo Rojas making a rare outside challenge in his No. 01 TELMEX/Chip Ganassi Racing BMW Riley.
"He was alongside of me in the middle of Turn 1 but as we started to accelerate off the corner I was accelerating more quickly and he tried to hang on the outside," Fogarty said. "I think the edge of the road probably caught him by surprise, to a certain extent, but we are talking Big Bend here. It's a decreasing radius turn. You are going quick and then the corner exit comes up right away. You're in the middle of one radius and suddenly it tightens and there's the edge of the road. I think he probably got caught out a little bit by that and I certainly wasn't going to give him any room."
Rojas went off course and Fogarty and the No. 99 were assessed and quickly served a drive-through penalty for what GRAND-AM ruled as "avoidable contact."
"He had an opportunity to back out of it but the contact between us was completely benign," Fogarty said. "It's what the terrain off the track did to their car that caused their day to end. I am racing out there, and I am going to race hard, especially against them. We can't let that car get in front of us; they are just too hard to get past. I am sure he's pretty upset because his race ended in Turn 1, and that's unfortunate. My intent was to keep him behind me and not to see his car destroyed."
Fogarty quickly recovered from the penalty, worked his way up to second, and was officially credited with leading one lap during pits stops, before handing the No. 99 over to Gurney.
"Alex did a good job hanging on to a damaged car there at the end after getting the spoiler torn off," Fogarty said. "He was doing everything he could. We're not that happy about the day, but I guess there are some positives in that when the car was intact and working it was pretty competitive. That's going to be what we look forward to building on come next weekend."
Next up for the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series and GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing is this Saturday's Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen.
One of the biggest crowds to ever see a GRAND-AM Rolex Series race turned out for the Memorial Day Weekend Classic. "There's a great tradition of racing here at Lime Rock on Memorial Day and it was good to be a part of it," Fogarty said. "The crowd was great and I hope we put on a good show for them. If we can do this every year it would be fantastic."
Gurney also enjoyed the Lime Rock Memorial Day experience. "It's obviously beautiful here with all of the greenery and the atmosphere and it's just awesome that all of these fans showed up," Gurney said. "We hope we can make it a nice tradition here from now on."