GAINSCO team looks to do last year's runner-up finish one better in Glen six-hour enduro WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (June 7, 2007) -- Alex Gurney, Jon Fogarty and GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing dominated much of last year's rain-soaked Grand-Am Rolex...
GAINSCO team looks to do last year's runner-up finish one better in Glen six-hour enduro
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (June 7, 2007) -- Alex Gurney, Jon Fogarty and GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing dominated much of last year's rain-soaked Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Sahlen's Six Hours of the Glen at Watkins Glen International, eventually finishing second, and in Saturday's edition of the endurance classic, the duo are hoping to move up a step and put the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Pontiac-powered Riley atop the podium for the second time this season.
The fabled and historic 3.4-mile road course, which is set in the beautiful Finger Lakes region of upstate New York, has been the setting for a number of strong runs by the GAINSCO team, including the team's first-ever podium back in 2005. Both Fogarty and Gurney are determined to add this weekend's race to that record.
"I love going to The Glen. It's yet another classic road course on the Grand-Am schedule," Gurney said. "We've been fast here on both configurations and I had the pole on the short course last year, so we know the GAINSCO car will be mega."
"Either wet or dry, Watkins Glen is a great track to drive," Fogarty said. "Momentum is the key, because getting cleanly through Turn 1 really carries you a long way down the track going flat-out."
With five consecutive front-row starts dating back to Gurney's pole at the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona, and continued most recently by Fogarty's first career Rolex Series pole at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca two weeks ago, speed has not been a problem for the GAINSCO Pontiac. What has proven elusive in the three races since the team's breakthrough victory at Mexico City has been a consistent ability to turn that speed into race results. Both drivers are determined to do whatever it takes to change that.
"As fast as our car has been, we know we have to start converting that speed into more wins and podiums," Gurney said. "The car and the whole team have been so good but we've missed a few opportunities, and at Laguna our strategy worked really well but a few other teams frankly just got very lucky with all the yellows. We know that won't always be the case."
"The front-row starts are good, but I'd rather be talking about front-row finishes," Fogarty said. "In this field, streaks are tough to come by -- we've been on a speed streak but the races have been much more dynamic, presenting us with some trying circumstances. We'll keep learning and fine-tuning what we're doing -- that's the only way to achieve success in the Grand-Am series. Every team is working just as hard all the time, and there's never a moment you can let up."
Even so, Fogarty is still looking to keep the streak alive. "We still want a clear view of the green flag," he said. "We want to start up front every time."
The six-hour race length presents an unusual challenge for drivers and teams -- it's certainly not a full-blown enduro like the 24 Hours of Daytona, but Fogarty and Gurney agree that neither can it be raced like an ordinary, two-and-a-half-hour Rolex Series event. With more than double the hours of racing, car conservation will be critical, and with more hours of racing comes more pit stops. That puts the over-the-wall work of the GAINSCO Boys in the spotlight.
"Much can happen in a race this long, and I think it'll be an enduro right up until the last round of pit stops," Fogarty said. "Our guys have always been awesome in the pits and that's part of the reason we won in Mexico. I know they'll do a great job for us this weekend, too."
"For Jon and I, being very smart in traffic will, I think, be the key point in getting a good result," Gurney said. "The car without a mark on it will most likely win the thing and we're going to try to stick to that mantra this weekend."
After missing a Grand-Am race for the first time since he took his team to the series in 2005, team owner Bob Stallings will return to the pit box this weekend. Business commitments forced his regretful absence from his usual place on the timing stand, and he's eager to be back at the track -- especially at a circuit that has been good to his team.
"The GAINSCO Boys have been consistently quick at this venue and we expect that again this year," Stallings said. "I can only reiterate the fact that staying out of trouble, keeping the car safe and drivable when that last hour rolls around is at least twice as important here as anywhere else. We've got to be around at the end."