NO. 99 GAINSCO AUTO INSURANCE CHEVROLET RILEY TAKES LEAD UNDER TWO LAPS FROM THE FINISH
MILLVILLE, N.J. (July 18, 2010) -- Reigning two-time GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series Champions GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing, and drivers Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty, won their first race of the 2010 season Sunday when Gurney took the lead for good less than two laps from the finish of the New Jersey Motorsports Park (NJMP) 250 presented by Crown Royal on NJMP's Thunderbolt Raceway.
Gurney and Fogarty kept the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Chevrolet Riley in winning contention throughout the 2-3/4-hour timed race but the "Red Dragon" team seemed destined in the final 10 minutes to finish second to the championship-leading No. 01 TELMEX/Chip Ganassi Racing BMW Riley of Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas. Gurney tried but wasn't quite able to catch and pass the leading No. 01 but suddenly saw Pruett slow with a rapidly deflating tire after contact with another Daytona Prototype less than two laps from the finish. Gurney passed for the lead and the only two laps he led all day were the white and checkered flag laps that brought the most exciting NJMP GRAND-AM Rolex Series race to date to a dramatic close.
"The last 10 laps I liked it that Scott was just getting into the GT traffic so I thought that with some luck I just might have a shot at him," Gurney said. "He had a really good pace the whole time, maybe we would go back and forth a little bit, but I thought he had had a tiny edge on us. It was lucky for us to run into that situation where he had a flat, and we will take it. We have thrown away a few so it feels really good to finally put one on the board for 2010."
Gurney and Fogarty completed 116 laps and averaged 94.672 mph for the victory in the race that was slowed by three full course caution periods. It was the 13th career Daytona Prototype victory for Gurney and Fogarty as GAINSCO teammates, their first at NJMP and first since 2009's penultimate round at Miller Motorsports Park in Utah, nine races ago.
"We all want to win so badly on the GAINSCO team," said Fogarty, who also won the team's first pole of the season in Saturday's NJMP 250 qualifying. "We were running second there with 10 minutes to go, and that's good, but I could tell there was a little bit of disappointment in the team, and I guess that's just what happens when you surround yourself with competitive guys who want to win. It just feels great to get a victory, I think it is just great for everybody and the team never gives up. They never stop working hard, and we were finally rewarded with a win today. That's just what happens when you never give up."
Fogarty led the race's first seven laps from the pole and five more circuits later in his stint that was more than 90 minutes long. As GAINSCO's closer, Gurney usually drives the longer shifts in most races, but in New Jersey Fogarty withstood oppressive heat and fading tires in his opening run. For the third straight day, on-track action was run in heavy humidity and hot temperatures in the mid 90s.
"I was hot and a lot of work and dealing with traffic was a big issue too," Fogarty said. "We ended up with a pit strategy that forced us to run 165 miles on one set of tires and by the end of my stint, man, it was really tough. For sure the GAINSCO car was competitive today and it was a great race for us. It was just cool to be able to hand it over to Alex in decent shape and he did a great job too dealing with the heat and pressuring to the finish."
GAINSCO has now won at least one race a season in each of the last four years, dating back to 2007's championship winning season that produced a record seven victories. The team earned a victory at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in 2008 and scored a series-leading four wins last year in the run to GAINSCO's second GRAND-AM Rolex Series Championship. Sunday's NJMP 250 win was also GAINSCO's ninth win from the pole in GRAND-AM Rolex Series competition.
The No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings team has also jumped from fifth to a tie for third in the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series Daytona Prototype Team Championship standings with 231 points. GAINSCO has also moved to within nine points of the second place No. 10 SunTrust Ford Dallara team that finished third Sunday. Points leaders Pruett, Rojas and the No. 01 team held on in New Jersey to finish second, 3.674 seconds behind GAINSCO, and continue to lead the championship race with 267 points.
Next up for GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing and the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series is the Crown Royal 200 at The Glen, August 6 - 7, on the NASCAR short course at Watkins Glen International Raceway.