Hit holes radiator, sends GAINSCO/Blackhawk Racing to the garage early at VIR ALTON, Va.- Starting in 24th position at Sunday's VIR 400 at Virginia International Raceway after a penalty for misfiled paperwork, it would seem as if a strong...
Hit holes radiator, sends GAINSCO/Blackhawk Racing to the garage early at VIR
ALTON, Va.- Starting in 24th position at Sunday's VIR 400 at Virginia International Raceway after a penalty for misfiled paperwork, it would seem as if a strong finish by Bob Stallings and Alex Gurney was out of reach. But after a promising early charge forward by Bob, the team's hopes for a run from the back to the front in the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance/Wells Fargo Pontiac Riley were deflated as a crunching hit on Lap 18 was to puncture the car's radiator.
The damage forced Gurney and Stallings to retire from the race after just 19 laps of the scheduled 77 and left the GAINSCO team to finish where they started, in 24th.
Gurney never got the chance to turn a lap under race conditions, a fact which left him to marvel at the possibilities - from his shotgun start, Stallings had brought the No. 99 machine all the way up to eighth place. Alex, who had set fastest time in Saturday's wet practice session, was confident that had the car not been damaged beyond repair, he would have challenged for the podium.
"It was another disappointing race. After so many good runs to start the season, we've had a little streak of bad luck," Gurney said. "We had front- running speed, set fast times and I think we would have had a really good result if we hadn't been put to the back. When you start back there, you're vulnerable to getting caught up in accidents and that's what happened to Bob. He was on a tear through the field until the hit."
Stallings was apologetic when he climbed out of the car - he had been looking forward to seeing Alex take the GAINSCO Pontiac Riley into the fight at the point of the field.
"I'm really impressed with VIR but it was tough on the GAINSCO boys," Stallings said. "The 99 car was definitely fast on Sunday and I was just working my way through the people who couldn't stay on the track when I got caught up in someone else's spin. The cars ahead of me checked up and I grabbed my brakes on a wet spot. That pretty much ended our day, and it's unfortunate that we were unable to see Alex's blinding speed in the race. Next stop, Mexico!"
Alex is also looking forward to his first visit to the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, and hopes the team's competitive drive will carry forward to the new venue.
"We've been taking comfort in the pure speed that we've shown lately," Gurney said. "I'm hungrier than ever for a top result south of the border." Bob, Alex and the GAINSCO/Blackhawk Racing team will make the trek to Mexico for the Nov. 5 running of the Mexico City 250. The race, which is the final round of the 2005 Rolex Sports Car Series, will mark the first- ever Grand-Am event in Mexico and is being held in conjunction with the season finale for the Champ Car World Series. Practice will begin at 8:30 a.m. Central time Friday, with qualifying for the Daytona Prototypes at 5:30 p.m that evening. The green flag will drop on Saturday's race at 3 p.m. SPEED Channel will present live, flag-to-flag coverage of the race at 4 p.m. Eastern, 1 p.m Pacific.