Birmingham: Bob Stallings Racing race report

FOGARTY RUNNING THIRD WHEN TEAM SUFFERS SECOND BARBER DNF IN LAST THREE YEARS BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (April 10, 2010) -- A blown engine just over 30 minutes into the Porsche 250 ended the day early for GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing and struck and even...

FOGARTY RUNNING THIRD WHEN TEAM SUFFERS SECOND BARBER DNF IN LAST THREE YEARS

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (April 10, 2010) -- A blown engine just over 30 minutes into the Porsche 250 ended the day early for GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing and struck and even bigger blow to the bid team drivers Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty were mounting for a record third GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series Driver Championship Saturday at Barber Motorsports Park.

"I came out of the hairpin and was going up through the gears and had a big bang, a lot of vibration and a lot of smoke," said Fogarty, who was running third at the time. "It must have looked awfully spectacular. We were really struggling before that episode and there was just nothing to the motor. It just wasn't getting up and getting it on. Whether that was a precursor to the motor letting go, I don't know. The motor guys are going to have to take it apart and hopefully there is something left of it to look at. Tough day and certainly not good points wise."

While the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Chevrolet Riley team and Fogarty were classified 13th in the Daytona Prototype class and each earned 18 points, a double blow was dealt to their teammate Gurney who never had the chance to drive. Gurney didn't earn any championship points and it will be nearly impossible for him to join Fogarty for a second consecutive GRAND-AM Rolex Series Championship and unprecedented third Daytona Prototype driving title for the duo.

"We feel like we have had years of good reliability so this was just a really tough day," said Gurney, who failed to drive in a race for the first time since Infineon Raceway late in the 2006 season. "I think we were good for a top-three finish, which would have been good for the championship, but now I think I am out of the championship and Jon is still in it, the way the points work. So that's deadly disappointing. We just have to go out and try to win races from now on because I feel bad about the points from here on out."

The disappointment of not being able to realistically challenge for another co-championship with Gurney hit Fogarty as hard as the actual DNF (Did Not Finish), the second for GAINSCO at Barber in the last three years. In 2008, Gurney was leading the race in the late going only the have the No. 99 retire with clutch failure.

"That is something they ought to consider revisiting in the rules," Fogarty said. "Alex is part of the team and he was a big part of getting the car on to the starting grid. It's not like he didn't contribute anything in this race up until this point. He is definitely getting the short end of it there but it's not like that was the first time that has happened. Obviously, we still want to win the championship but now we will have to do it by a larger margin now that Alex didn't get any of those points."

A larger concern is if the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Chevrolet Riley is the best package to challenge for a championship within the present rules structure of the GRAND-AM Rolex Series Daytona Prototype division.

"We are so constricted with the parts that we can put in this motor that it is pushed to the limit," Fogarty said. "And it seems like the limit of the other motors in the series seems to be going up, not just every year but almost every race. There is only so much you can do with the rules package that they have given to us. We are balancing a fine line between blowing the thing up and making power. It has happened twice now this year and we just essentially are not there."

GAINSCO also retired from the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona in the race's 21st hour when the No. 99 Riley Chevy lost oil pressure while running fifth. The team recovered to finish third at last month's Grand Prix of Miami and is hoping that the next round on the 2010 calendar at Virginia International Raceway (VIR) in two weeks will also be a good event for GAINSCO after a victory there last year.

"I am happy we get to go to VIR but I wish we could do it on equal footing with everyone else," Fogarty said. "It is still a horsepower track and you have a massively long straightaway from the Oak Tree down the back section. We will get around the rest of the track just fine. We won there last year but everybody else's motor program is moving forward and ours, unfortunately, is a little stagnant."

The Porsche 250 has been feast or famine for GAINSCO the last four years. Gurney and Fogarty co-drove the No. 99 GAINSCO Daytona Prototype to victory at Barber from the pole in 2007 and 2009 but in the coinciding even years failed to finish after qualifying fourth both this weekend and in 2008. Team owner Bob Stallings summed up a tough Alabama weekend and the team's outlook on the rest of the season.

"I am disappointed because we had a pretty big road to hoe to stay up with the 01 BMW anyway," said Stallings in reference to the race and championship winning No. 01 TELMEX/Chip Ganassi Racing BMW Riley of Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas. "Losing this race is a lot of points and the other complication is the disparity in points between our drivers, which is kind of a bummer for Alex. Beyond that, there is no question that we have been pushing the outside boundaries of the motor and we have to figure that out. We are not going anywhere unless we get this engine thing figured out."

Next up for GAINSCO and the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series is the Bosch Engineering 250 at VIR, April 23 - 24.

-source: bsr

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Jon Fogarty , Scott Pruett , Memo Rojas , Chip Ganassi , Bob Stallings
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing