Birmingham: Bob Stallings Racing preview

GAINSCO, GURNEY AND FOGARTY SEEK POINTS LEAD AND SECOND PORSCHE 250 WIN IN THREE YEARS BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (July 15, 2009) -- Locked in a Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Championship battle as hot as an Alabama summer weekend, GAINSCO/Bob...


BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (July 15, 2009) -- Locked in a Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Championship battle as hot as an Alabama summer weekend, GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing and drivers Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty will look to retake the series points lead with a second win at Barber Motorsports Park in three years in this weekend's Porsche 250 presented by Legacy Credit Union, July 17 - 19. Sunday's 2-3/4-hour timed sprint race on the 2.3-mile road course, which will be run in the grueling heat and humidity of a typical Birmingham July afternoon, can be seen live on SPEED at 3 p.m. ET/Noon PT.

GAINSCO and its championship drivers have won a pair of races and added top-three podium finishes in the last two events to move into full-on Grand-Am Rolex Series title contention with just five races left in the season. Archrivals Scott Pruett, Memo Rojas and the No. 01 TELMEX/Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley lead the Daytona Prototype battle with 199 points, the No. 10 SunTrust Ford Dallara and drivers Max Angelelli and Brian Frisselle are one spot back with 198 points and the GAINSCO squad is right there in third with 196 points. With a maximum 35 points available to a team in a Grand-Am Rolex Series race, the 2009 title battle is still far from decided heading back to Birmingham.

"With five races left in the championship, things are getting really tight," said Gurney, who took over from Fogarty and crossed the finish line a close second to Angelelli two weeks ago in the Brumos Porsche 250 At Daytona. "We're coming off a great weekend in Daytona where I had a great battle with Max at the end of the race. I would have loved to come out on top but still, those are the races that I always enjoy and I think the type that has become commonplace in the Grand-Am Rolex Series."

Gurney had a similar nose-to-tail thriller with current NASCAR Truck Series winner Colin Braun throughout the second half of the 2007 Porsche 250 at Barber, and took the win with Fogarty and GAINSCO. It is that type of close competition that makes race car drivers truly love their profession.

"We love to race-- period," Fogarty said. "Whether it is checking out on the competition or side-by-side banging, it's all part of it. The daring moves and side-by-side stuff is great for the fans, and when it goes your way, you look and feel like a hero. But I really enjoy the technical side too, and getting the job done prior to the race and working with the team to come up with the best solution for getting around the track quickly."

The 2007 Barber victory was part of a dominating run to that season's Rolex Series Driver and Team Championships. GAINSCO won half of the year's 14 races and the obvious talent of the drivers was equally complemented by the hardworking crew and engineering team. The drivers see a similar performance from the GAINSCO team this season.

"I am really proud of our team; they have been doing an excellent job across the board and are clearly hungry for another championship," Gurney said. "We know we really need to focus hard on reliability and staying out of trouble as we close in on the end of the year. That being said, with the pace of our No. 99 GAINSCO car recently, we are definitely going to Barber with the intention of winning the race. We've always had a good car at Barber and with some more recent improvements, I think we will be one of the teams to beat."

GAINSCO won two of 2009's first four races with convincing performances in the Bosch Engineering 250 at Virginia International Raceway in April and the Verizon Festival of Speed presented by SPEEDCOM at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in May, where they led the championship standings for the first time this year. June's highlight was a third-place finish in the EMCO Gears Classic at Mid-Ohio and two weeks later GAINSCO took the second-place finish at Daytona on the Fourth of July to get the final half of the season off to a solid start.

The Daytona race was run in searing Florida afternoon heat and humidity, and similar conditions are usually the norm in Birmingham as well. Last year at Barber, teams and drivers endured stifling humidity and temperatures approaching 100 degrees. Such dire conditions are an issue during and even days after a race.

"The 24-36 hours after a hot race is rough," Fogarty said. "You are incredibly dehydrated and that creates a lot of issues for your well being. It is crucial to replenish ASAP. An IV would be the best but we generally have enough time between events that we can do it the old fashioned way by drinking a lot of water. But headache and fatigue are the order of the day following a big race."

Both Gurney and Fogarty stay in top physical shape and fully enclosed Daytona Prototypes like the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Pontiac Riley are known for being extremely hot.

"There is really no way to train for the conditions that occur inside a Daytona Prototype and if you did recreate the conditions I think you would end up hurting yourself more than helping," Fogarty said. "The most important thing is to be able to stay hydrated and use the water in your system efficiently. I think overall cardio fitness, diet and hydration are the keys to handling the heat."

Gurney is expecting a hot race this weekend but, like Fogarty, will be wearing a cool suit that the GAINSCO team keeps in top operating condition.

"As far as the heat, since sitting in our car is a little like sitting on the surface of the sun, I expect it could be an issue this weekend, but we have been working hard to improve in that area," Gurney said.

-credit: bsr

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Alex Gurney , Jon Fogarty , Scott Pruett , Colin Braun , Max Angelelli , Memo Rojas , Brian Frisselle , Bob Stallings
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing