GRAND-AM Rolex Series Champs GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing ready to defend Barber Motorsports Park victory NO. 99 "RED DRAGON" SQUAD SEEKS SECOND STRAIGHT AND THIRD OVERALL ALABAMA WIN BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (April 6, 2010) -- Defending Barber ...
GRAND-AM Rolex Series Champs GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing ready to defend Barber Motorsports Park victory
NO. 99 "RED DRAGON" SQUAD SEEKS SECOND STRAIGHT AND THIRD OVERALL ALABAMA WIN
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (April 6, 2010) -- Defending Barber Motorsports Park race winners and reigning GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 Champions GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing, and drivers Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty, will look for their second consecutive and third overall victory in the last four years on the scenic Alabama road course in this weekend's Porsche 250.
"Barber is definitely one of my all-time favorite tracks and facilities, and it's been very good to us over the years," said Gurney, who gave GAINSCO its first pole position at Barber back in 2005. "Winning two out of the last three races here puts us in a good frame of mind, though the races at Barber are never easy and always very demanding."
GAINSCO, Gurney and Fogarty won last year and in 2007 in Alabama, and went on to take the GRAND-AM Rolex Series championship titles both years. In each Barber victory, Fogarty qualified the No. 99 on the pole and led the opening race laps before Gurney held off the competition and took the "Red Dragon" to the checkered flag.
"Success in GRAND-AM is never easy and Barber is no exception," Fogarty said. "We have been under a lot of pressure come the end of our Barber races. It is not an easy place to pass but Alex has done a great job hanging onto the lead. Good qualifying and great stops put us in the position we need to win, so all in all it is a team effort as always."
A third-place finish one race ago in the Grand Prix of Miami put the No. 99 GAINSCO Chevrolet Riley and the duo of Gurney and Fogarty right in the thick of the early-season battle for the 2010 GRAND-AM Rolex Series Team and Driver Championships despite a rare mechanical DNF (Did Not Finish) in the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona. The No. 99 GAINSCO "Red Dragon" is second in the Rolex Series Team standings with 53 points behind the leading No. 01 TELMEX/Chip Ganassi Racing BMW Riley that has tallied 67 points in the year's two races. Gurney and Fogarty also have 53 points in the Rolex Series Driver Championship to rank fourth behind Ganassi drivers Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas (67 points), Ryan Dalziel (61 points) and Burt Frisselle and Mark Wilkins (54 points).
"We're in a surprisingly good points situation and we have our team's two most difficult races out of the way," Gurney said. "I think we all feel we're ready to start our season now. I can't wait to get back on track because it seems like it was a very long break. I've turned so many laps on the iRacing.com simulator that I can't wait to get out there for the real thing!"
The Miami race was run on Saturday, March 6, so it will be a little over one month since the GRAND-AM Rolex Series was in action. GAINSCO and its drivers are anxious to get back to racing, especially on a favorite track like Barber.
"Barber Motorsports Park is one of the nicest racing facilities I have ever been to," Fogarty said. "Mr. Barber has paid attention to every detail both on the race track itself and the surrounding grounds. It's a challenging track with a good mix of corners and the spectating is second to none. It is really a great place to come and watch a race, and having the museum right there is icing on the cake."
Despite its popularity, the tricky 2.3-mile, 16-turn Barber road course is far from an easy circuit to master.
"Setting the car up for that track is a real challenge," Gurney said. "We talk ourselves in circles all the time trying to figure it out. The racing surface has changed a little bit each year and we feel like we're always chasing it. We've done a lot of homework, though, and we're hoping we can roll off the truck quick and be tough to beat all weekend."
Fogarty and his teammates will also not relax for a minute despite their recent success at Barber.
"It's good to have won at a circuit, but it really doesn't guarantee anything," Fogarty said. "The track seems to change a little every year and the competition never lets up. So I can be certain that the team will be working as hard as ever to put together a winning package. All of us - drivers, engineers and crew - have a huge task ahead this weekend. The car is very similar to last year but I think we will be better. We always learn something each time we visit a track and we can use that information this weekend."
Another reason the GAINSCO squad enjoys its annual visit to Barber is to spend some time with facility owner George Barber. "I'm looking forward to seeing Mr. Barber again," Gurney said. "He's always so kind to us and makes the whole GRAND-AM community feel welcome. His attention to detail and the obvious pride he takes in his race track make Barber Motorsports Park my favorite stop on the calendar."
Fogarty had a busy month between races. "It has been a long month and I have just been enjoying time with the family," Fogarty said. "My young son William had spring break and we all stayed in town. I took him skiing for the first time in some nice spring conditions and he had a great time. We couldn't get him off the mountain. He turned four, which is pretty big. I have also gotten back into rock climbing, something I have not done since college, and joined a local indoor gym. It is a great forearm and back workout, all muscles you rely on in the car. Oh yes, and worked on taxes. That's always a blast."
Fogarty joined GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Chief Race Engineer Kyle Brannan in Florida early Monday morning for an up-close view of the pre-dawn launch of Space Shuttle Discovery from the NASA facility at Kennedy Space Center. Fogarty, Brannan, Gurney, and team owners Bob and Linda Stallings had an up-close tour of Discovery and the impressive NASA complex in 2008 but this was the first time GAINSCO team members witnessed a launch in VIP style. "I left early this week on Easter Sunday to come out to Florida and watch Shuttle Discovery launch," Fogarty said. "I can't even describe it. Having the best seats in the house courtesy of our friend Grant Stoddard at NASA was awesome. I brought my Mom and my son William. There are not going to be many more of these and none of us had ever seen a launch live. My Mom lives for this stuff, loves it. She grew up when NASA and the space program was huge, real American good stuff, and it would be a shame if she never experienced seeing the Shuttle as the program is most likely going away. So we had three generations to witness one of the most impressive feats that this country has ever achieved. I knew it would be a moving experience, but I still had to choke back the tears. It is just unreal and makes you feel proud. I was in awe of a real human feat and those men and women are BRAVE. It was just awesome."