GAINSCO REMAINS SECOND IN ROLEX SERIES CHAMPIONSHIPS WITH THIRD TOP-10 OF 2009
MILLVILLE, N.J. (May 3, 2009) -- GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing and drivers Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty overcame heavy rain, a flat tire, a foggy windshield and a wave-by that wasn't to finish sixth in Sunday's Verizon Wireless 250 on Thunderbolt Raceway at New Jersey Motorsports Park.
An all-day rain shower caused some problems for the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Pontiac Riley but none of the setbacks were as costly as a pace car wave-by that never happened. The team went a lap down when starting driver Fogarty ducked into the pits after a broken valve stem caused the No. 99's right-front tire to go flat early in the 2 ¾ hour timed race. Gurney took over during the stop which was actually the team's third visit to the pits in the first 40 minutes. GAINSCO also made a strategic stop-and-go pit stop along with several other front runners under caution on Lap 2 and was forced to pit again soon after the race went green for a fogged-up windshield.
The pit delays initially put GAINSCO a lap down but an apparent opportunity to catch up with the lead pack during another caution period never materialized. Gurney had worked his way back to the tail-end of the lead lap and was the first competitor behind the pace car when standing water on the track forced 12 laps to be run under caution at mid-race. The usual practice of waving by cars until the pace car picks up the race leader, however, never happened and Gurney had to charge his way back into contention after the race went green. He set several fastest race laps in the final hour, but GAINSCO realistically needed another caution to get back in touch with the front of the pack.
"That was solid rain throughout but not a bad result for the No. 99 car despite all of our woes," said Fogarty. "We had an issue with our windshield, which was not a big deal, but then we had a tire just go flat and I had to dive for the pits. We were already at the tail-end of the field at that point because of the earlier windshield issues, so that put us a lap down. We did a good job to align ourselves to get the wave-by but for whatever reason the series decided to not wave us by and restart the race with a back marker in the lead. That pretty much sealed our fate. Alex was the fastest guy out there for most of the time and I am pretty sure we had a good podium going had we been able to race without being nearly a lap down."
Gurney actually closed to within six seconds of the fifth-place finishing No. 61 AIM Autosport Ford Riley and didn't put a wheel wrong in his more than two-hour stint.
"It was a good result but I am really frustrated with that call," Gurney said. "I don't understand it. That really sealed our race. We should have been on the podium for sure. It was fun out there driving in those conditions and it was nice to stay on the track, and even though it was frustrating, we still came out good on the points."
After the first three races of the season, the No. 99 GAINSCO team and Gurney and Fogarty are still second in the point standings behind the leading No. 58 Brumos Porsche Riley of David Donohue and Darren Law, who finished fourth in the Verizon Wireless 250. GAINSCO now has 84 points in both championships, just four points behind the Brumos team and drivers.
Next up for GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing and the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series is the Verizon Wireless Festival of Speed presented by SPEEDCOM Communications, May 15 -- 17. The race can be seen live on SPEED at 1 p.m. ET (4 p.m. PT).