GAINSCO, GURNEY AND FOGARTY BRING BACK-TO-BACK TOP-THREE PODIUM FINISHES TO MONTREAL MONTREAL, Quebec, Canada (Aug. 24, 2010) -- Reigning two-time GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series Champions GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing, and drivers Alex...
GAINSCO, GURNEY AND FOGARTY BRING BACK-TO-BACK TOP-THREE PODIUM FINISHES TO MONTREAL
MONTREAL, Quebec, Canada (Aug. 24, 2010) -- Reigning two-time GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series Champions GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing, and drivers Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty, will look for their third-straight top-three podium finish and second race victory of the 2010 season in this weekend's Montreal 200 at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, Aug. 27-28. The timed two-hour sprint is the second-to-last race of the 2010 season and can be seen live on SPEED this Saturday, Aug. 28, at 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT.
GAINSCO started from the pole and finished third in both last year's Montreal 200 and the 2007 race, and the team has never started off of the front row on the 2.709-mile Grand Prix course. The No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Chevrolet Riley team also finished on the podium in this season's previous two races, with a third-place finish three weeks ago at Watkins Glen International following the team's first win of the season last month at New Jersey Motorsports Park. The races marked the first time Gurney and Fogarty drove the GAINSCO "Red Dragon" to back-to-back podium finishes in nearly a year after the 2009 Montreal showing preceded a victory at Utah's Miller Motorsports Park last September.
"Montreal has been a tricky place for us," Gurney said. "I think we have had a car capable of winning a few times, certainly last year, but just a few little things have kept us off the top step. From a driver's perspective, the track has very much a street course feel to it, and I like that. It feels like you're working very hard in tight quarters. Learning how to use the curbs in the best way is something Jon and I try to refine each year as drivers, as there's a lot of lap time in it when you hit them just right."
Fogarty and Gurney each led last year's race, which had a tricky mix of dry and rainy conditions. The drivers combined to bring the No. 99 to the pits five times in the quick two-hour sprint, usually to swap between dry and wet weather tires.
"Last year was crazy with the changing conditions and I can't remember how many tire changes we made," Fogarty said. "I would not prefer that sort of situation because the winner was ultimately decided by sheer luck, not great driving or pit work. I would take wet or dry, but could do without both. Knowing the circuit in the wet is helpful, but at this point I think most of the drivers have wet driving experience at Montreal."
GAINSCO's final 2009 Montreal pit stop came with just over 10 minutes to go when Gurney made a quick change from slicks to rain tires. He returned to the race in fourth and charged through the rain to grab the final podium spot on the last lap.
"Last year was very intense in the rain but still a lot of fun," Gurney said. "I had a great battle with Timo Bernhard in the Penske car and got by him toward the end of the race. That should have been for the win but as it turned out the rain-dry-rain scenario was not over. A late pit stop for tires just when the weather was changing probably cost us the victory."
Victory is again the absolute goal this weekend. In addition to the 2009 championships, GAINSCO also won the 2007 team and driver titles, and finished second in both in 2008. Although the rival No. 01 TELMEX/Chip Ganassi Racing BMW Riley team has all but wrapped up this year's championships, GAINSCO is a threat for runner-up honors in the Daytona Prototype team title battle. The No. 99 jumped from fifth to a tie for third in the team standings after the New Jersey win and took sole claim to the spot with 261 points after The Glen. The No. 01 leads the championship with a comfortable 302 points, but GAINSCO is only 11 points behind the second-place No. 10 SunTrust Ford Dallara, which has 272 points. A Montreal win could give the No. 99 in a big jump to second place in the point standings.
"I still feel like we should win at every opportunity, which is of course every race, so there is pressure," Fogarty said. "It's very different from being in the championship hunt, but winning is still very, very important. I guess without the title on the line we can be a little more aggressive with moves both on the track and in the pits, but those sort of big swings don't often pay out, so we will most likely approach these last two races like usual, with the goal of winning on pace and smarts."
Both GAINSCO drivers agree that brake management is never more of a priority than at Montreal.
"Making sure the brakes last the entire distance is a huge challenge at Montreal," Gurney said. "We see significantly more wear on this circuit than at any other on the schedule. Even with a shortened two-hour event it's still a big problem, so we have to really monitor that situation throughout the lead-up to the race and then try to plan accordingly."
Taking care of the brakes on the GAINSCO "Red Dragon" is just part of the team's overall plan of attack on a circuit they find as enjoyable as they do challenging.
"Racing in Montreal has always been fun," Fogarty said. "The circuit is quite unique and the fans are always excited to have us there. The track has several heavy, heavy braking zones for two chicanes and the hairpin, and I feel like the setup on the 99 has allowed us to better our competitors in that area, so in that way the track is good for us. Being able to challenge the curbs and the walls gives the driver the option to take some pretty big chances, which can turn one from a hero to a zero pretty fast. There's not a lot of margin for error."
Saturday's sprint kicks off a critical run of two races in the next three weekends that will wrap up the 2010 GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series season. Montreal is followed by the season-ending race at Miller, Sept. 10-11.
Last year's Montreal race was also memorable for GAINSCO because the team left Canada with a points lead in the 2009 GRAND-AM Rolex Series Championships they would not lose... A victory this weekend would also see GAINSCO join Ganassi as the only repeat Daytona Prototype race winners this season^a GAINSCO has led each of the three GRAND-AM races run in Montreal since 2007 for 51 total laps up front^a Another key strategy factor of Saturday's race is the two-hour time limit, which makes the Montreal 200 and the Crown Royal 200 at The Glen one race ago the year's shortest events. Pit stop and race strategy calls will be as important as ever at Montreal^a Gurney's famous father Dan Gurney was honored at last weekend's Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. The event gave the younger Gurney the chance to take his first laps behind the wheel of one of his father's legendary All American Racers (AAR) Eagle Formula 1 race cars. "Driving my dad's Formula 1 Eagle was just a great moment," said Alex Gurney after piloting the 1967 Eagle Weslake V-12. "I didn't really know what to expect from the car. It actually was not hugely different from some of the modern cars I've driven, just a little softer and without the downforce! It had lots of power, though, the gearbox worked great, the sound was unbelievable and everything felt comfortable. The crew guys had me thinking that it would have no grip but it actually felt quite good and pretty balanced. Going 200 mph on the straight at Spa in one of those would be a different story altogether, though!"