GAINSCO LOOKS FOR SECOND 2010 WIN AND FOURTH-STRAIGHT TOP-THREE PODIUM FINISH AT FINALE TOOELE, Utah (September 8, 2010) -- GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing, and drivers Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty, will look to lock down top-three finishes in a...
GAINSCO LOOKS FOR SECOND 2010 WIN AND FOURTH-STRAIGHT TOP-THREE PODIUM FINISH AT FINALE
TOOELE, Utah (September 8, 2010) -- GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing, and drivers Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty, will look to lock down top-three finishes in a pair of GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series Daytona Prototype Championships this weekend at Miller Motorsports Park, September 10-11, where the Utah 250 will bring the 2010 racing season to a close.
Although the two-time reigning GRAND-AM Rolex Series Champions, and defending Utah 250 race winners, no longer have a mathematical chance to win their second-straight and third overall Daytona Prototype titles in the last four years, GAINSCO is peaking at the right time as the 2010 season comes to a close. The No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Chevrolet Riley is currently third in the Daytona Prototype team championship standings with 293 points and Fogarty also ranks third in the driver championship standings with the same amount of points. The No. 01 TELMEX/Chip Ganassi Racing BMW Riley team of Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas will officially clinch the 2010 titles in the Utah race, but the No. 99 "Red Dragon" and Fogarty are just nine points out of second in both championships. The No. 10 SunTrust Ford Dallara and drivers Max Angelelli and Ricky Taylor are second in both the team and driver title races with 302 points.
"Everyone on the GAINSCO team has worked very hard this year to stay at the sharp end," Gurney said. "We've been in contention many times but we haven't really put the results on the board that we were hoping for. We've come a long way this year and we've constantly chased the setup from track to track, but we've always managed to have a good car. It's always very tricky to get it right, but I think we can be proud of the work we've done."
GAINSCO shook off a challenging start, which included engine failures in two of the year's first three races, to move back into the ranks of race-winning contenders in the final half of the season. After switching to Chevrolet motors built by ECR Engines prior to the Memorial Day race at Lime Rock Park, GAINSCO earned its first pole and victory of the year just five races later in the New Jersey Motorsports Park 250 in July. That race kicked off a run of three consecutive top-three podium finishes for the No. 99 squad heading to Utah, which includes third in the Crown Royal 200 at The Glen in August and second later that month in the Montreal 200, where GAINSCO also captured its second pole of the season.
Despite the recent success, heading into the final race of a season not in contention for a championship is unfamiliar and unwelcome territory for the GAINSCO team.
"Despite the disappointment of being out of the championship, we are in much better shape now at the end of the season, and the results show it," Fogarty said. "Although two of the first three race finishes were the result of motor failures, we were running well at Daytona and second at Barber when things came apart. The team had the drive, motivation and at least a third-place pace most of the year, but we just couldn't put it all together."
Miller Motorsports Park could be just what GAINSCO needs to end the year on a high note. The team clinched its first set of GRAND-AM Rolex Series championships in Utah after a race-long battle with the No. 01 Ganassi team in 2007, finished third in 2008 and then took a giant step toward wrapping up the 2009 championships with a dominating win in last year's Utah 250.
"We were very happy to get a win in New Jersey this year but we would really like to add another one in Salt Lake to finish off the season on a high note," Gurney said. "We had a near perfect race last year in Utah, pole, fastest lap, great pit stops and we led pretty much the whole way and beat the top guys in the race with real pace. I thought it was the defining moment in winning our championship so we have a very good feeling about this race track. I think we can go back and do the same if we get everything just right."
A twist this year is a move to Miller's shorter outer-course circuit for the first time after running on the full 4.486-mile layout since the GRAND-AM Rolex Series debuted in Utah in 2006. The 15-turn course is still plenty long at 3.048 miles and all but one small section is also part of the larger layout.
"I am excited to try the new configuration, although putting together a good lap on the full course was very satisfying because you had to get so many corners right," Fogarty said. "Now it becomes more of a horsepower track. Most of my favorite corners are still in the outer loop so I am not really going to miss anything, and actually there are a few that I am fine without. Pit work will be more critical, as passing is rare at Miller and less blacktop means more GT traffic, which always creates situations."
A victory in Saturday's race would see GAINSCO join the No. 01 as the year's only repeat race winners while any finish in the top-three would give the No. 99 squad its first four-race podium streak since 2007. That season GAINSCO had a mid-season rally of eight consecutive top-three finishes, which was just one of many milestones and records that the team rode to the 2007 driver and team championships.
For the third consecutive year, GAINSCO chose the Utah race as an incentive reward trip for some top-performing GAINSCO employees. Debbie Bowen, from GAINSCO's Dallas headquarters, and Carmen Saenz, from GAINSCO's Miami office, were nominated by their peers and selected by management to represent the company as members of GAINSCO's "Circle of Champions." The pair will serve as honorary pit crew members during Saturday's race, in addition to participating in VIP experiences throughout the day. This is the sixth "Circle of Champions" event experience that GAINSCO has organized^a Gurney and his teammates give some credit for the No. 99's second-half resurgence to the new relationship with ECR (Earnhardt Childress Racing) Engines. "We've also had a nice transition to ECR Chevrolet engines and they've been doing a fantastic job for us," Gurney said. This weekend's finale is the earliest end to a GRAND-AM Rolex Series season since 2006, and a full month ahead of last year's season-ending race in October. "I would like more races," Fogarty said. "I like racing - a lot - and I like being with the team, but time at home is great, and really it is about balance. I am excited to be able to spend time at home and end the season early but trust me when I say my wife will be excited for me to leave come time for Daytona early next year." Gurney would have been ranked with Fogarty in the driver championship standings but he never had a chance to drive or earn points after the No. 99 retired early in Fogarty's stint with engine failure in April's race at Barber Motorsports Park^a This weekend's race marks the first time since 2007 that both GAINSCO drivers will come to Utah without one of them having a baby on the way. Fogarty and his wife Sara were just weeks away from the birth of their second child Allison in 2008 while Gurney and his wife Colleen cut it a little closer last year. "Going into the race last year was definitely a stressful time for me but also a happy one," Gurney said. "I left for Salt Lake on a Thursday from the hospital where my wife had just had our second little baby girl, Savannah, the day before. I think she gave me that extra little bit of luck and motivation to bring home the win! Another great memory!"