Fogarty captures series record at The Glen with team's eighth straight pole Track-record lap puts GAINSCO Pontiac on front row for 12th time in 12 races WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (Aug. 9, 2007) -- With blistering pace and a smooth hand at the wheel, ...
Fogarty captures series record at The Glen with team's eighth
Track-record lap puts GAINSCO Pontiac on front row for 12th time in 12 races
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (Aug. 9, 2007) -- With blistering pace and a smooth hand at the wheel, GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing driver Jon Fogarty seized the pole for tomorrow's Crown Royal 200 at The Glen, and in the process wrote his team into the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series recordbooks. The No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Pontiac-powered Riley that Fogarty shares with Alex Gurney has now started on point for a record eight straight Rolex Series races, and nine for the season. The pole also moved Fogarty into a three-way tie for the most poles by a driver in a single season, with seven.
Fogarty's very first lap of the 2.45-mile Watkins Glen International circuit was good enough for the pole, but his second was even better, -- a time of 1:07.020 at an average speed of 131.603 mph, more than four-tenths of a second quicker than the previous track record, set by Gurney last year. In order to conserve tires for the race, he then brought the No. 99 machine into the pits to wait and see if any of his 20 competitors could best his time. None could -- putting the red No. 99 on point for the third straight Rolex Series race at Watkins Glen International, dating to Gurney's pole in this event in 2006.
"It's a great feeling," Fogarty said. "We're really gunning for the championship, but it's always nice to be recognized for your accomplishments and those of your team. It's all of us together on the GAINSCO team -- they put me out there with a car capable of getting on the pole, so big hats off to everyone who's been a part of it. Now we've got to focus on the title -- hopefully we can get some sort of record by making the biggest-ever championship comeback."
With just three races remaining in the chase for the 2007 Rolex Series championship, including tomorrow evening's 200-mile sprint, Fogarty, Gurney and the GAINSCO team sit nine points in arrears of the No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing car and seven points back from the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing machine. But for the first time all season, the No. 99's drivers can control their own destiny in the fight. Should Gurney and Fogarty rack up wins in all three races, they will win the driver and team championships. That would be no small feat, but it's one that both drivers believe they're capable of achieving. Starting on point for the first race is a step toward that goal.
"We know if we get these next three wins, we'll win the title, and it's never been like that before," Fogarty said. "We've won three in a row already this season, so we know we can do it. Alex and I, we're kind of the underdogs here being nine points down, so we're going to go for it and see what happens. That would be doing the championship in style."
Gurney congratulated Fogarty, while offering his own assessment of the challenge ahead for the GAINSCO duo -- run a strong, trouble-free race and open up as much of a points gap on their title rivals as possible. His pole here in June for the Sahlen's Six Hours is part of the team's record streak.
"Today was a great day all around for the GAINSCO team. Jon did an awesome job in qualifying, and it really shows how well we worked together in practice," Gurney said. "We went through a lot of changes and it seemed like every change we made did something to improve the car, so we're really happy with how that unfolded. With the short weekend, there's not much time left for the other guys to catch up."
Tomorrow's event is a unique one in the 14-race season -- it's the shortest of the year, at just 200 miles or two hours, and it takes place on the fast and flowing Watkins Glen short course, rather than the full circuit used for the Sahlen's Six Hours in June. Those unique qualities create unique challenges.
"We love this track -- it's a different animal than the long course, but the GAINSCO car seems to work well either way," Gurney said.
"The biggest difference is the duration of the race. With just two hours, you can't come back from any sort of setback like we did or the 01 car did at the Six Hours, and the abbreviated circuit is tougher to pass on," Fogarty said. "Starting up front is a great thing, but we have to race clean and totally mistake-free."
Team owner Bob Stallings is proud of his team's record, but pragmatic in his outlook -- this pole doesn't mean anything in the chase for the championship unless his drivers can convert the first-place starting position into a first-place finishing position. To that end, he echoed Fogarty's thoughts.
"This is a great accomplishment for our team, for Jon and for Alex -- but we've got a race to run tomorrow," Stallings said. "Our goal is to win the last three races and the championship, and to do that we have to take them one at a time. We like Watkins Glen and Watkins Glen, I think, likes us, but we've had a few boo-boos here before. We've got to have a boo-boo-free race to get the win."