Pit trouble can't keep Gurney, Fogarty off sixth straight podium at Montreal Wheel gun failure drops GAINSCO car to 10th, Gurney charges back to third in closing laps MONTREAL, Canada. (Aug. 3, 2007) -- With an hour to go in today's Grand-Am...
Pit trouble can't keep Gurney, Fogarty off sixth straight podium at Montreal
Wheel gun failure drops GAINSCO car to 10th, Gurney charges back to third in closing laps
MONTREAL, Canada. (Aug. 3, 2007) -- With an hour to go in today's Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Montreal 400k, the situation was grim for Alex Gurney, Jon Fogarty and their GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing team. A broken wheel gun had cost precious seconds in the team's final pit stop, putting the polesitting No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Pontiac-powered Riley down in 10th position, well behind championship rivals Max Angelelli and Scott Pruett. But in a show of speed, determination and skill, Gurney showed why the No. 99 has run up front all season, slicing through the Daytona Prototype field in the race's final stages to bring the GAINSCO team home in third place. In the process, he kept the fight for the Daytona Prototype team and driver titles alive -- with just three races remaining, Gurney and Fogarty stand third, nine points behind the leader, Pruett, and seven markers behind Angelelli in second.
"That was classic Grand-Am racing -- a lot of fun, some nasty tough stuff and some great passes," Gurney said. "We've had a lot of good luck for a lot of races and we finally had a little problem in the pits -- it's unfortunate, but those things happen. For a while after we came back out, I didn't think I'd be able to climb back as far as I did. But I had a great car and I was able to capitalize on every opportunity that opened up in front of me. Everyone was driving really hard and sliding around, the tires were done and we had an extra restart or two to close things up. Considering where we could have ended up, I think we came away with a pretty good result. We're very much in this championship now."
Fogarty, who started on his fifth and the team's seventh consecutive pole position, led the way from the drop of the green until the first set of pit stops on Lap 13, when a tactical call by the No. 10 team put their car out of pit lane ahead of the GAINSCO car. He dogged the Wayne Taylor Racing machine throughout the second stint, but couldn't find his way around, holding down second all the way up until he climbed out of the car during the final stop on Lap 35. In that stop, crew chief Link Smith's left front wheel gun failed.
"The GAINSCO Pontiac felt pretty good and was good in traffic -- when we were up front, we had a fast car but overtaking was another issue," Fogarty said. "It wasn't until I was headed into the pits that I told (team engineer) Kyle Brannan that we could keep going on these tires, so we were already committed to a change. That allowed the 10 car to get past us, and they were quick. I could get all over Jan in the brake zones and through the backside of the track, but when he got it pointed straight, he'd drive away. I had one chance to pass him, where he actually went off-course headed into the hairpin, but when he came back on, he did a really good job of holding me off. Alex did an awesome job fighting through the field with not a lot of time, and made some great passes to get us back into good points position."
Team owner Bob Stallings never lost faith in his drivers and his crew -- in fact, he said he had every confidence that when the checkers fell, the No. 99 would be well and truly alive in the points fight. But even he admitted that he didn't think the race would come out as well as it did for his team.
"The GAINSCO Boys did exactly what they're supposed to do -- when things don't go perfectly, you have to be able to adjust and adapt to the new situation, and they all did just that," Stallings said. "When the gun died in that stop, Link did not lose his cool -- he just went for the other gun without the slightest hesitation. After that, Alex showed why he's the number-one sports car driver in America, because he got everything he possibly could out of that GAINSCO Pontiac -- just a great drive. Now, with three races to go, we've got a super-tight battle for the championship between us, the 10 car and the 01 car -- we're in the position we need to be in. We can control our own destiny -- win the last three races, and the championship's ours no matter what the 01 and 10 cars do."
Tonight, the GAINSCO team will pack up and prepare to head straight to Watkins Glen International in Watkins Glen, N.Y., where the Daytona Prototypes will sprint into the twilight on Friday for the season's shortest race -- the Crown Royal 200 at The Glen. The beautiful and historic upstate New York circuit has played host to a number of strong runs for the No. 99, starting with the team's first-ever podium in August 2005 and most recently with victory in the Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen this June. The GAINSCO team is looking forward to their return visit.
"We think we'll be tough to beat at The Glen -- we had a great car there for the Six Hours," Gurney said. "The 10 and the 01 are good there too, so it'll be the usual suspects all going hard at it."
"Watkins Glen is an awesome circuit, and it would be great to pull off the double -- winning there twice in one season," Fogarty said.
"The Glen is always a positive experience for us. We're confident and we can't wait to get there," Stallings said.