Watkins Glen II: GM Racing race report

GAINSCO Pontiac Finishes Second At The Glen Pontiac takes over DP manufacturer point lead Watkins Glen, NY, August 8, 2008 -- The GAINSCO Pontiac team of Jon Fogarty and Alex Gurney finished second this evening in round 11 of the Grand-Am Rolex...

GAINSCO Pontiac Finishes Second At The Glen
Pontiac takes over DP manufacturer point lead

Watkins Glen, NY, August 8, 2008 -- The GAINSCO Pontiac team of Jon Fogarty and Alex Gurney finished second this evening in round 11 of the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 Crown Royal 200 at Watkins Glen. On the strength of the 99s finish, Pontiac takes over the Daytona Prototype manufacturers points lead.

The two-hour race started under dry conditions. Some eight laps in the rain began to fall on the front stretch of the track. Some teams decided to pit for rains, but the 99 team persevered on slicks. As the changing weather conditions had team's guessing, the 99 guys stayed on slicks and up toward the front.

The drama started on the reconnaissance lap for the GAINSCO/Bob Stallings team. Racing driver Jon Fogarty had a moment on before the green putting the red 99 in the gravel at the Bus Stop. He was extricated and was able to start from his fourth place qualifying position. The duo had the car running as high as second in the race, but were never able to lead. The finish puts Fogarty and Gurney 39 back in the points.

"The conditions were dry for me," Gurney said. "I was running qualifying laps my whole stint. I didn't have anything for the 61. He was too quick all weekend. The 59 was fast at the beginning and he went by me like I wasn't even going. We did everything to hold on to the position. I lost my shift light with five or six laps to go. The wire broke off and was swinging around inside the car. Another good Grand-Am race, close to the end, tough always. To come out of here in second is a good result. It is nice to see the 01 way back there."

Cheever Racing's Christian Fittipaldi started drove the No. 16 Crown Royal Cask No. 16 Pontiac Coyote from the fourth row. Fittipaldi managed to lead three laps before turning over the Antonio Garcia. When Garcia took over the handling of the 16 began to fade. The duo were able to hold on for a sixth place finish which was another good result to go with a second place in the last race at Montreal.

"If this worse we had it was a good day," Garcia said. "The car was not too fast here this week. It had a lot of over steer, the rear was snappy nervous, it was great in the front. I was able to keep the guys behind me, so sixth is ok for us today. Christian was able to lead some laps early so that was good for the team."

Nic Jonsson started the No. 76 Krohn Racing Pontiac Lola and was able to move up to fourth position from his 12th place starting spot, showing some excellent driving in the early changing conditions. As the weather turned cold later in the race teammate Ricardo Zonta had trouble getting heat in the tires on restarts.

"I think that fifth place is good for us today," Zonta said. "It was hard to keep up the pace with the car that we had today. We had to save fuel and on a fast circuit like this that makes it hard to compete. Also the tires were taking four or five laps to heat up after the restarts and that made it easy for cars to get around me. The cold weather affected us as well, so fifth is not bad today."

The SunTrust team decided to start on rain tires. Michael Valiante was able to pass a lot of cars with the wets and then had to pit again for slicks -- costing the team valuable track position. Valiante turned over to Angelelli who was battling with the 16 car to the end and brought the car home in seventh.

"We knew track position is important here," Angelelli said. "It's everything. That basically cut our chances of winning the race. Then I got behind the 16, which was strong, and I had not enough to overtake him. That's basically it. We were all in agreement that in those conditions we would start on wets. It was a gamble. Sometimes it works, sometimes it does not. At the end, the car was really fast, so I wonder what would have happened if we didn't have to make that extra stop. I feel bad."

Tracy Krohn had a steady start in the No. 75 Krohn Racing Pontiac Lola. Krohn turned the car over to teammate Eric van de Poele who had the brake problems from qualifying come back. On lap 58 van de Poele was coming into the last turn for the restart and the brakes locked sending him into the wall and nearly flipping the green No. 75. Van de Poele drove the car to the pits and the team retired it.

"The brakes were real loose for me," van de Poele said. "I had a big problem going into the Bus Stop and ended up hitting the guard rail. I then pitted for tires and to put a bigger Gurney wing on the car. We had to try and get the car more stable. Going into the last turn on the restart the brakes again locked up and sent me into the wall."

The No. 4 AT&T Childress-Howard Motorsports Pontiac Crawford was making its first run of the season with Andy Lally taking the start. Lally experienced some suspension problems that made the car a handful in the rain. He turned the wheel over to sportscar legend Andy Wallace who experienced drive-line issues and retired the car on lap 42.

"Andy said that the car made a big noise and then he lost drive, I think it was something with the transmission drive-line," Lally said. "During my stint for the start we lost a shim in the suspension which really made the car unstable. Together with the off and on rain that made it a handful in the early going."

Jim Matthews started the No. 91 Riley-Matthews Pontiac Riley from the seventh row only to have a spinning car in turn one end his day some 200 yards into the race. The No. 91 suffered severe right front end damage forcing the team to retire the car without completing a single lap.

The Pontiac Grand-Am Rolex Series DP teams will be on track next at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, California, August 23.

-credit: gm racing

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Andy Wallace , Ricardo Zonta , Alex Gurney , Antonio Garcia , Christian Fittipaldi , Jon Fogarty , Eric van de Poele , Michael Valiante , Andy Lally , Jim Matthews , Tracy Krohn , Bob Stallings , Nic Jonsson
Teams Krohn Racing