GURNEY AND FOGARTY HANDLE LATE-RACE CALAMITY FOR SECOND TOP-FIVE SHOWING OF 2010 DANVILLE, Va. (April 24, 2010) -- GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing and its team of two-time champion drivers Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty scored a hard-fought...
GURNEY AND FOGARTY HANDLE LATE-RACE CALAMITY FOR SECOND TOP-FIVE SHOWING OF 2010
DANVILLE, Va. (April 24, 2010) -- GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing and its team of two-time champion drivers Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty scored a hard-fought fifth-place finish in Saturday's Bosch Engineering 250 GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series race at Virginia International Raceway (VIR).
Fogarty and Gurney both ran as high as second during their stints in the first 95 minutes of the 2-3/4-hour timed race, but GAINSCO's second and final pit stop, a late-race restart contact incident and an overall lack of pace to the leaders combined for a long day. Gurney came in for the final stop while running second but the GAINSCO "Red Dragon" was beat out of the pits by the race-leading TELMEX/Chip Ganassi Racing BMW Riley and three other Daytona Prototypes that apparently took on lighter fuel loads than the No. 99 team.
"The car handled well at the beginning of the race," Fogarty said. "I had a great start and was able to get around a couple of guys and hang on to the back of the 01 for quite a while, but it was all I could do, really. I turned the car over in one piece and in a good position and from then things kind of fell apart. There were no real errors, just a bunch of individual events that we ended up on the short end of."
The competition's short-fuel strategy paid off when the race was slowed for a full-course caution period with 30 minutes remaining. Gurney was running fifth as the field came down the front straight for the restart but the leaders accelerated to the start/finish line much slower than usual. As the green flag flew, Gurney hit the No. 58 Brumos Porsche Riley of David Donohue that was directly in front of him and the right front bodywork of the No. 99 broke off in the impact. Despite the damage, Gurney was able to hold on to fifth through one final restart and after some great driving in the race's closing minutes.
"We were long in trouble before that," Gurney said. "I think the car was good and it handled well the whole day, but it was really a big problem in the straight line and every time we hit the throttle. On the pit stop a bunch of guys gambled and got by us there. I don't think anybody passed us on track all day, but we were still not moving forward. On the restart, somebody checked up in front of us, and it was probably hard to see, but it obviously happened. I don't know who it was and we will have to watch the replay really closely, but I hit Donohue pretty hard. It was unfortunate, but I was able to hold on at the end even though we had a lot of push through the esses without the nose."
Gurney had been planning to make a move on Donohue for fourth on the restart before the brake-check incident.
"On that one restart I was going to take a shot at Donohue for fourth," Gurney said. "He seemed to be struggling on the brakes going into Turn 1, so there was an opportunity there, but I doubt anywhere else. It is nice to finish a race. Fifth place is never what we shoot for but on a day like this we will take it."
The fifth-place result is just GAINSCO's second finish in the year's first four races. The No. 99 team also finished third in March's Grand Prix of Miami but that result came in between a pair of engine failures in the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona in January and earlier this month at Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama. The engine held together at VIR this weekend, but Team Owner Bob Stallings remains concerned about the competitive viability of the Chevrolet Riley package within the current GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series rules structure.
"We had the eighth fastest car on the track and we finished fifth despite a pretty well-damaged car, and I think that is a tribute to the drivers and the team," Stallings said. "We definitely didn't have anywhere near the combination that would be needed to run up with the Fords and BMWS. There just wasn't any way that was going to happen. We are disappointed, and really we are disappointed because there is not much that we as a team can do, and that's frustrating. It's frustrating to go to a track and really realize that, despite your best efforts and the experience you have winning everywhere, that two or three cars are going to have to be in trouble for you to finish up front. Everybody on the team has done a great job, but there is a lot to overcome. It's not over yet but the championship is way out of reach. I guess it is mathematically possible, but realistically the 01 team is a very good team and I have tremendous respect for them. They don't make many mistakes and they have got a terrific package and really no one can run with them."
The No. 01 and drivers Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas won their third-consecutive race at VIR and have a commanding lead in both the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series team and driver standings with 137 points in both championships. The No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Chevrolet Riley is fifth in the team championship with 97 points.