Birmingham: Bob Stallings Racing qualifying report

Flying Fogarty's Barber Park pole makes it six straight for GAINSCO team Front-row streak extended to 10 races; speed credited to constant setup improvement LEEDS, Ala. (July 21, 2007) -- GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing driver Jon Fogarty added ...

Flying Fogarty's Barber Park pole makes it six straight for GAINSCO team
Front-row streak extended to 10 races; speed credited to constant setup improvement

LEEDS, Ala. (July 21, 2007) -- GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing driver Jon Fogarty added another achievement to a season of superlatives this morning at Barber Motorsports Park, as he scored his fourth -- and the team's sixth -- consecutive Daytona Prototype pole position in qualifying for tomorrow's Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Porsche 250 presented by Bradley Arant. Driving the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Pontiac-powered Riley that he'll share with Alex Gurney, Fogarty set a fast time of 1:22.283, lapping the 2.3-mile natural-terrain road course at an average speed of 100.628 mph. Together, Gurney and Fogarty have combined for seven poles in 10 races so far this season -- and the red GAINSCO car has not started worse than second.

"We have a lot of confidence in our ability to get the most out of the GAINSCO car in qualifying, and the results are proof of that," an exuberant Fogarty said. "I kind of rolled slow out of the pits to find a good gap, ripped a couple laps off and then just waited to see what other people would do. I felt like I got the most out of the tires when they were at their best, and we have to run this set in the race tomorrow, so we didn't want to put any more laps on them than necessary. I thought potentially if I let the tires cool, I could perhaps improve the time if someone went quicker, but I was hoping not to have to go out again. I was a little uncertain when Kyle told me to get out of the car, because there were still other cars lapping pretty quick, but the team seemed confident, and they were right."

Gurney, who set the day's quickest time in the morning practice session, will take over the driver's seat of the No. 99 during one of the team's planned two pit stops. The second-generation star said a series of gradual improvements throughout the weekend have helped the GAINSCO team piece together a setup that creates a stable, balanced car. Earlier in the weekend, Gurney, Fogarty and team engineer Kyle Brannan were left scratching their heads, as their setups developed over the previous two years of racing at this circuit were found wanting.

"The GAINSCO car is running that little bit better after we made some changes last night," Gurney said. "We led both sessions today and Jon did a great job in qualifying to get another pole. That said, we still don't know what it'll be like in the race, once the other drivers get in the cars, so it will probably be a close fight. But we're starting in the best possible position and we'll be doing everything we can to tighten up the championship."

Barber Motorsports Park is set in a forested valley just outside Birmingham, the state's largest city. Built by George Barber in 2003, the circuit draws high praise from the GAINSCO team's drivers -- they say it's not only fun and challenging to drive, but is also helping to bring the sport of road racing a new group of fans in a new location.

"I have to thank George Barber for putting this place together -- we need more of these (tracks) across this country," Fogarty said. "He's doing a great job promoting this race -- there's a ton of people here on Saturday and I'm sure there will be more tomorrow. As a driver, it's awesome to come to a circuit like this."

Team owner Bob Stallings was once again impressed with his team's performance, more so because of the way the GAINSCO Boys, and engineer Kyle Brannan in particular, responded to the challenge of early setup challenges.

"It says a lot about this team that we could fight our way back to the top of the charts. Kyle just did a super job -- he was relentless all weekend trying to find a way to get the car to go a little quicker," Stallings said. "Alex and Jon worked very well with him to get him information that would make the car better. We didn't make any dramatic moves; instead we just inched our way to a point where the guys felt comfortable with the car. Then Jon just got a good lap in there and stuck it up front. Now we have to execute in the race -- otherwise, the pole doesn't mean much."

One of the track's notorious challenges is the heat and humidity of Alabama's summer. The GAINSCO team has worked hard to cool off Gurney and Fogarty, by installing high-performance cool suits and helmet air blowers that provide a welcome chill to counteract the 190-degree heat inside the cockpit.

"I think we've made some big strides to get the conditions inside the car cooler, so I'm not too worried about it," Gurney said. "It's going to be hot, but not any hotter than other places we've been this season."

Fogarty and Gurney will heat up the track tomorrow, as the red No. 99 will lead the 17-car Daytona Prototype field to the green flag for the 109-lap, 250-mile or two-hour, 30-minute Porsche 250 presented by Bradley Arant at 2 p.m. Central time. The race will be televised live on SPEED Channel, beginning at 3 p.m. Eastern time.

-credit: bsr

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