RECORD NINTH WIN SATURDAY MAKES TEAMMATES MOST SUCCESSFUL IN SERIES AFTER JUST 40 STARTS Millville, N.J. (April 29, 2009) -- GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing's Champion drivers Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty head into this weekend's Verizon Wireless...
RECORD NINTH WIN SATURDAY MAKES TEAMMATES MOST SUCCESSFUL IN SERIES AFTER JUST 40 STARTS
Millville, N.J. (April 29, 2009) -- GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing's Champion drivers Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty head into this weekend's Verizon Wireless 250 (live on SPEED Sunday at 1 p.m. ET) at New Jersey Motorsports Park (NJMP) as the most victorious Daytona Prototype driving duo in Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series history after a record-setting win last weekend at the Bosch Engineering 250 at Virginia International Raceway (VIR).
Gurney and Fogarty co-drove last Saturday to their ninth career win at VIR in just their 40th race together in the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Pontiac Riley. The GAINSCO drivers have now won more Rolex Series Daytona Prototype races than any other duo, breaking a three-way tie with the rival pairings of former teammates Scott Pruett and Luis Diaz (Chip Ganassi Racing) and Max Angelelli and Wayne Taylor (SunTrust Racing). Pruett and current teammate Memo Rojas are the next-highest-ranked active duo with seven victories.
"We feel great after our run last weekend," said Fogarty, who scored the milestone win on the same VIR track where he and Gurney debuted as teammates in 2006. "We knew this victory meant something special for all of us in our 40th start but to know we are now the most successful team of Daytona Prototype drivers makes it even better. Now we head to New Jersey looking for number 10 and I know the GAINSCO team can do it."
GAINSCO led and was in contention for the win in last year's inaugural event on Thunderbolt Raceway at NJMP before a late-race bump-and-run by Angelelli knocked Gurney from second to fifth in the closing laps. The competitive showing here last year and last week's strong run have GAINSCO optimistic heading back to the Garden State.
"I am really excited about New Jersey," Gurney said. "I know they made a huge effort to address some issues from last year so I think we can look forward to a great race. Last year it was a wild event and everybody was hitting each other, flying off the track, dirt everywhere, lots of lead changes -- typical Grand-Am fun. We were leading late in the race until I get held up briefly by a car that came out of the pits and pulled directly in front of me. I lost the lead to (eventual winner Oswaldo) Negri right there and was later taken out by Angelelli. It was a real shame, but I know we will have a great car again and be in the fight at the front."
The GAINSCO crew stayed over at VIR to prepare the No. 99 "Red Dragon" for the Verizon Wireless 250 before making a mid-week trip to New Jersey.
"The car is working well and I am confident that with what we learned at last year's race that we will be able to come up with a good car for both qualifying and race," said Fogarty, who is also pleased with recent Thunderbolt course changes. "It is a fun track and with the work done in the off season, I think it will be even better. I am glad to hear we will be running the back chicane as it should eliminate cars taking flight off the back straightaway 'jump'!"
The VIR victory also put GAINSCO, the 2007 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Daytona Prototype Team and Driver Champions, in the thick of this year's title chase when combined with a seventh-place finish in the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona in January. GAINSCO is now just one point behind third-place VIR finishers and Rolex 24 winners David Donohue and Darren Law of Brumos Porsche Racing in both the Team and Driver Championships. The Brumos squad has 60 points to lead both championships but GAINSCO, Gurney and Fogarty follow closely with 59 points.
"We are one point out of the lead and we would like to come out of this race P1 in the championships," said Fogarty, who was happy to get back to racing last week after the series took a three-month break following the Daytona opener. "It has been impossible to gain or build momentum up to this point in the season, but now that things are rolling we want to establish that we are the team to beat. Now it finally feels like the race season has begun!"
In their 40 Grand-Am Rolex Series races together with GAINSCO, Gurney and Fogarty have nine victories, 20 total top-three podium finishes and 11 poles-- With back-to-back East Coast races, Fogarty elected to skip the long flights back and forth to his home in Bend, Oregon, and did a driving tour through Virginia's Eastern Shore, Ocean City, Maryland and Washington D.C. before heading to New Jersey. "I have never had the chance to explore this part of the country and it has been interesting, for sure," Fogarty said. "I cruised through the Chesapeake Bay area and saw lots of water and lots of history. I had lunch in the town of Onancock (Virginia), which was founded in 1680. We don't have anything with that sort of history in Oregon. The crab cake sandwich was better than anything on the West Coast as well."-- Two members of the GAINSCO team are homegrown products from the greater metropolitan New York area that is home to the NJMP complex. Crew Chief Link Smith and Mechanic Glenn Feather are both natives of Poughkeepsie, N.Y. Although one state away, NJMP is just about as close to Poughkeepsie as Watkins Glen International, the only New York track on the Rolex Series schedule. "Last year my brother and sister-in-law and nephews, who live in New Jersey, came to the race," said Feather, who returned to racing in 2006 after a 20-year career in law enforcement with the Town of Poughkeepsie Police Department. "They are all coming back this year and maybe some others, too."-- GAINSCO will be among the teams hosting students from nearby Vineland High School Auto Body class Thursday morning at NJMP. Team Manager Terry Wilbert will give the students an up-close look at the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Pontiac Riley and answer questions about the Daytona Prototype.