Rocky Moran, Jr. wrestles GAINSCO machine into eighth on Long Beach grid LONG BEACH, Calif.-- Rocky Moran, Jr. saved the best for last in this afternoon's Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series qualifying session on the streets of Long Beach, ripping...
Rocky Moran, Jr. wrestles GAINSCO machine into eighth on Long Beach grid
LONG BEACH, Calif.-- Rocky Moran, Jr. saved the best for last in this afternoon's Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series qualifying session on the streets of Long Beach, ripping off a 1:21.021 time on his final lap in the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance/King Taco Pontiac Riley, good enough to secure an eighth-place starting position for tomorrow's Crown Royal Grand American Challenge of Long Beach. Moran will team up with Alex Gurney in the 90-minute sprint race.
While the team was hoping for a better starting position, the luck of the draw meant Moran, Jr. qualified in the first of two split groups of Daytona Prototypes. The second group had the benefit of a cleaner track with more rubber, and the cars kept getting faster and faster as the track worked in. Moran, Jr. said the session helped him and Gurney work out some nagging handling issues and is confident that the drop of the green will see him move the GAINSCO machine forward.
"We improved the car over this morning, and that's key to the race," the second-generation driver said. "Qualifying in the first group, we maybe lost a position or two, but there's nothing we can do about that. My job as the driver now is to work with what we've got and move up in the race. I really want to hand the car over to Alex in the top five."
Gurney was clear about his game plan for the race -- run fast and run clean.
"If we stay out of trouble, we're going to be in good shape, and we'll push as hard as we can the whole time. I think we can do that," he said. "We were expecting a lot more yellows this weekend, but everyone's been extremely tame so far. I'm not sure that'll continue tomorrow."
Team owner Bob Stallings took a long view of the race and is aiming to keep the GAINSCO team on a solid points footing.
"We like where we are, even though unfortunately we drew the first qualifying group. I think we'd have been up a few spots if we'd have been in the second," Stallings said. "Rocky's helped us out with getting the car settled down and we're learning a lot about the car and the track with every lap. I've talked to the drivers and I think we're in a very good spot to score a solid finish and stay right there in the points fight."