Championship hunt brings GAINSCO team to home turf at Sonoma Gurney, Fogarty racing in familiar territory for pivotal penultimate race SONOMA, Calif. (Aug. 23, 2007) -- With just two races remaining in the 2007 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series...
Championship hunt brings GAINSCO team to home turf at Sonoma
Gurney, Fogarty racing in familiar territory for pivotal penultimate race
SONOMA, Calif. (Aug. 23, 2007) -- With just two races remaining in the 2007 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series season, Californians Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty have driven their No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Pontiac-powered Riley right into the closest title fight in Rolex Series history. Only four points separate them from co-leaders Max Angelelli and Scott Pruett, and in Saturday's Armed Forces Grand-Am 250 at Infineon Raceway, the GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing duo will aim for Victory Lane, the championship lead -- and the Grand-Am record for most wins in a season.
Throughout the second half of the season, from the Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen onward, the dominating performances of the red GAINSCO machine and its pilots have made the racing world sit up and take notice. Gurney and Fogarty have been the only Rolex Series drivers to appear on National Speed Sport News's weekly Power Rankings -- and they're currently ranked seventh in the motorsports world, just ahead of Sebastian Bourdais and Dario Franchitti. The numbers speak for themselves: six wins and nine poles in 12 races, with no start worse than second. In the last seven races, the pairing has racked up a perfect seven poles, five wins and two more podiums, combining to lead 467 of 789 total laps.
Fogarty and Gurney's summer streak has all but erased Pruett and Angelelli's once-formidable points advantages. The driver and team titles are now clearly within reach, as the red No. 99's tally stands at 350 to the leaders' 354. Both GAINSCO drivers will be looking to use their home-track advantage on the twisting, rolling 2.52-mile road course to bring home their seventh victory and its haul of 35 championship points.
"The way things have been going for the GAINSCO team, Jon and I can't wait to get to the track," Gurney said. "We're both from California so it's a home race for us both, and I've always loved Sears Point -- in fact, it might be my favorite track in the country. There's huge elevation change and so many challenging corners. It's really a driver's dream."
For Fogarty, Infineon holds a special place in his racing memories, as he drove in his first-ever organized auto race on the Wine Country circuit. Last year in this event, bad luck in the form of a collision with a backmarker took Fogarty out of the lead and out of the race, so he's especially keen to redeem himself in front of his home fans.
"This is a great track and I expect we'll have another great car like we had last year," Fogarty said. "While it would be good to be way out in front of this championship, I'm excited about our position. We just have to keep closing the gap, and that means winning. It's not only our objective, but also almost a necessity if we want to head into the final round in the points lead. This season's going to come down to the wire."
As if the Bob Stallings Racing team needed more motivation, California is a key growth market for the team's primary sponsor, GAINSCO Auto Insurance, and more than 60 top agents, executives and guests will be on hand to cheer their red No. 99 to victory. Gurney is hoping to oblige.
"With just the race at Salt Lake City left in the season, the championship being in reach and all those GAINSCO agents in the stands, we're very focused on winning this race," Gurney said.
That singular mindset extends to team owner Bob Stallings as well. Right now, all other concerns take a back seat to these crucial final rounds of the Rolex Series -- because he's on the brink of achieving his dream of becoming a Daytona Prototype champion.
"We're excited to get back to Infineon, where both Alex and Jon know the lay of the land," Stallings said. "The championship is our goal, and the path to it is clear: all we have to do is win."