Stallings scores solid qualifying result despite struggles with handling, weight MEXICO CITY, Mexico- A strong effort for Bob Stallings today at Mexico City resulted in his fastest-ever time at the track in qualifying, even as he worked to come...
Stallings scores solid qualifying result despite struggles with handling, weight
MEXICO CITY, Mexico- A strong effort for Bob Stallings today at Mexico City resulted in his fastest-ever time at the track in qualifying, even as he worked to come to grips with his recalcitrant No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Pontiac Riley. On his first lap of the 2.5 mile Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez at speed, Bob clicked off a lap of 1 minute, 25.176 seconds, but that lap burned up his car's Hoosier tires, and he was unable to better the time. Stallings will start the Rolex Sports Car Series Mexico City 250 in 17th position tomorrow before handing the car off to co-driver Alex Gurney - who turned in the second-quickest time in the day's only free practice session for the Rolex Series.
Last year at this track, Stallings qualified the GAINSCO Riley four seconds off the leader's pace - this year, he's just over two seconds back. But that improvement in raw time was overshadowed by the expansion of what Bob called an extremely deep and talented Daytona Prototype field. "The field out here this weekend is very, very deep, and I feel fortunate to have done as well as I did," Stallings said. "The car was outstanding but I overheated the tires and that hurt my chances at going faster. I feel I could have still wrung out a bit more speed, but I'm stoked that my times keep coming down."
Gurney said he, Stallings and team engineer Kyle Brannan had rolled the dice on an experimental setup in qualifying, and the gamble didn't pay off as they had hoped. According to Alex, rapid changes in the track have kept the team guessing.
"We're really chasing the track conditions so much, and that led to trying something that didn't quite work. It's a bit disappointing to be starting so far back but it's a long race and I think we have the speed to bring the GAINSCO machine back into the hunt," Gurney said.
Even more weight rests on Alex's shoulders, thanks to the lead blocks attached to the GAINSCO machine - and the other Pontiac teams - as the result of a Grand-Am mandate. "The weight is really a concern," Stallings said. "Clearly, it's made our car a lot slower out of the corners and as a result we don't have the straightaway speed we used to."
In the race, Alex is hoping for some help from the flagstand, in the form of some caution flags.
"This could be a one-stop race, and if that happens we might be at a disadvantage," Gurney said. "We'll be looking for some help from a couple full-course yellows to make our strategy play. The extra weight really makes itself felt in those long green runs - it's almost like a different car. We'll give it all we've got and I think we can get ourselves into the top-10 at the checkers."