Watkins Glen II: Blackhawk Racing qualifying report

Gurney seizes third career pole for GAINSCO team, demolishing Watkins Glen track record along the way WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (August 10, 2006) -- With a blistering series of laps that shattered the Daytona Prototype track record, Alex Gurney seized...

Gurney seizes third career pole for GAINSCO team, demolishing Watkins Glen track record along the way

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (August 10, 2006) -- With a blistering series of laps that shattered the Daytona Prototype track record, Alex Gurney seized his third career pole in the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Pontiac Riley for tomorrow's Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Crown Royal 200 at Watkins Glen International -- giving himself and co-driver Jon Fogarty perhaps their best chance this year to win their first-ever Daytona Prototype race.

Gurney scored two poles last year, but the GAINSCO team had made just one front-row start this season -- until now. As the minutes wound down in his 15-minute qualifying session, Alex ripped off a series of progressively quicker laps that culminated in his final flyer, a lap of the 2.45-mile road course in 1 minute, 7.496 seconds. The pole-winning time was nearly a tenth of a second faster than second-place Ryan Briscoe's No. 10 Pontiac and fully one second faster than the existing track record.

"I'm very happy to be on the pole at Watkins Glen -- we've been pushing hard all year to get one," Gurney said. "I think it really helps to have a time to shoot for, which I didn't have -- the hardest part was sitting in the pits watching the other drivers try to knock me off the top! We've been trying extremely hard to win a race for GAINSCO and tomorrow we'll give it our best shot."

Gurney credited his team with helping to perfect the GAINSCO Pontiac's setup, giving him a record-breaking car that he said had a near-perfect balance between straight-line speed and downforce in the turns. "It's a real fine line you have to walk and I think we nailed it -- although perhaps we went a bit toward the risky, trim-it-out side of the equation," he said.

Alex will start the 82-lap, two-hour event tomorrow, and he said starting from the point should be a huge advantage on a track that is tough to pass on. "This is a shorter race than usual and with no GT traffic, passing will be quite difficult -- that means we're exactly where we want to be. We are very stoked," Gurney said.

Fogarty will take over from Gurney at the first and only pit stop, and said he believes that if the team just sticks to its guns tomorrow, the 99 could very well be in Victory Lane. "I think we need to just keep working to our plan because what we've been doing so far has clearly worked," Fogarty said. "I can't say enough about what Alex did during that session because he did an awesome job to put us up front. We still have to get through the race and it will be a tough fight, but we're in a really good position to win."

Watkins Glen has been good to the GAINSCO team, with two runner-up finishes in three starts -- and team owner Bob Stallings is hoping that the raw speed today, combined with a driver pairing that just keeps getting better and better, will translate into a winning car tomorrow.

"This was a really exciting day for the GAINSCO Boys -- I said coming in here that this was a track that suits us and Alex unquestionably showed that today," Stallings said. "We had an absolutely perfect setup -- Jon's practice run right before qualifying gave Kyle a bit of data that just helped tremendously. Seeing our two drivers work together so well is gratifying, and the results of this pairing have just been tremendous. Now we've got a two-hour race to run -- if Alex and Jon go out there and run this race to our game plan, we'll be there at the end to take the checkered flag."

-credit: gainscoracing.com

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Alex Gurney , Jon Fogarty , Bob Stallings