Gurney's ironman drive powers Fogarty, GAINSCO team to victory at Barber Park Second-generation star runs more than two hours, leads 53 laps en route to team's fifth win LEEDS, Ala. (July 22, 2007) -- In a spectacular show of endurance...
Gurney's ironman drive powers Fogarty, GAINSCO team to victory at Barber Park
Second-generation star runs more than two hours, leads 53 laps en route to team's fifth win
LEEDS, Ala. (July 22, 2007) -- In a spectacular show of endurance at Barber Motorsports Park, Alex Gurney drove 88 of the Porsche 250 presented by Bradley Arant's 99 laps, holding off a valiant charge from Colin Braun to secure the fifth win of the season for himself and polesitting teammate Jon Fogarty's No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Pontiac-powered Riley. The victory moved GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing into second place in the team championship fight, and put Fogarty and Gurney back into contention for the driver's title, with just four races remaining in the 2007 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series season. The win was made even sweeter by the fact that two dozen GAINSCO Auto Insurance agents, guests and executives were on hand to cheer their team to victory.
Fogarty led from the pole when the green flag dropped, until a caution period just 11 laps into the race brought the 99 car to the pits for tires and fuel. Engineer Kyle Brannan made the call to put Gurney in the car after only 15 minutes of racing. Alex would have to battle for more than two hours around the tough and technical 2.3-mile road course in scorching summer heat and humidity, but Gurney was confident he could go the distance. He dogged the 75 car, driven by Nic Jonsson for a dozen laps, before superb pit work from the GAINSCO team at Lap 46 sent him back out in the lead. From Lap 50 to the checkers, Alex was challenged all the way by Braun, but Gurney was never outwitted and he managed to parry every thrust from the green machine. The 18-year-old pilot ran out of fuel on the final lap, allowing Gurney to drive to victory by 6.033 seconds.
"It was a long day, a very tough race, but everything worked out at the end," Gurney said after he climbed out of the GAINSCO Pontiac. "We had a car good enough to win, and it seemed like us and the 75 car were a good step ahead of the rest. Colin was very quick and really kept the pressure on me for the whole second half of the race. I congratulate him for running a great race and playing clean -- I was pushing as hard as I could the whole way, and it was a huge relief to see the checkered flag."
Gurney said the fatigue from running two hours and 15 minutes while roasting in a 190-degree cockpit was another challenge to overcome, but the team's improved driver cooling systems helped him beat the heat and bring home the victory.
"We worked hard on making the cool suit work well, and it hung in there the entire time," Gurney said. "By the end it wasn't super-cold, but it was enough to keep me going."
Fogarty, whose fourth consecutive pole-winning performance in qualifying yesterday set up the GAINSCO team's run to victory, said he was thrilled to watch his teammate's drive, and he credited the pit crew with flawless work that got the No. 99 car serviced first and fastest every time.
"I feel a little like one of Lance Armstrong's domestiques," he joked, "because that was a superstar performance that Alex put on today. I was able to hand the GAINSCO car over to him in position to work his magic, all the while under extreme pressure from Colin. He never cracked and did everything he needed to do to bring home the win. When I was in, I was able to open up a gap on second place to give us some flexibility in the strategy. Kyle made all the right calls and the pit crew was fantastic -- they got us past the 75 car, so hats off to them. This was good decision-making, solid execution and some serious driving -- that's championship performance."
With 10 races complete of 14, the GAINSCO duo now sit 13 points out of the driver's championship lead and just two points out of second place. The victory also has put the GAINSCO team unofficially in possession of second in the team title fight. Team owner Bob Stallings said his team did everything they had to do today -- up to and including grabbing the win.
"This win took everything we had -- Alex, Jon, Kyle and the crew executed flawlessly," Stallings said. "Jon did a great job holding the lead from the pole, bringing it into the pits in first place, the crew was absolutely out of sight with their pit work, Kyle ran a perfect strategy game and Alex showed his heart and his skill behind the wheel. He was absolutely on it; running fast and smart and not letting the pressure get to him at all. We picked up points in the championship, moved up in the team standings and that's all we as a team can do. The 01 car is out of our hands -- our goal has to be driving the 99 car into Victory Lane as often as we can for the rest of the season and letting the points fall where they may."
After three back-to-back-to-back races, the GAINSCO team gets a much-needed week away from the racetrack, allowing the crew to refit the 99 for a back-to-back set of races beginning Aug. 3, when the Rolex Series makes its first-ever visit to the stunning Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve in downtown Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Practice for the Montreal 400k begins at 12:30 p.m. Eastern time on Aug. 2, with the race going green at 4:15 p.m. on Aug. 3. The race will be televised on a same-day-delay basis on SPEED Channel at 8 p.m. Eastern time.