Second-row start at Barber Park continues solid qualifying streak for Gurney, Fogarty and the GAINSCO team LEEDS, Ala. (July 29, 2006) -- In a qualifying session that was determined by thousandths of a second, Alex Gurney put the No. 99 ...
Second-row start at Barber Park continues solid qualifying streak for Gurney, Fogarty and the GAINSCO team
LEEDS, Ala. (July 29, 2006) -- In a qualifying session that was determined by thousandths of a second, Alex Gurney put the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Pontiac Riley fourth on the grid for tomorrow's Rolex Sports Car Series Porsche 250 presented by Bradley Arant at Barber Motorsports Park. Gurney's time of 1:22.524, set at an average speed of 100.334 mph, was less than three-hundredths of a second off the outside pole -- it was just that close in Alex's bid to repeat his pole-winning feat here last year. The heat of the afternoon kept Gurney and co-driver Jon Fogarty guessing about the handling on the GAINSCO Pontiac, but fourth place gets no complaints from the team. "We found that the temperature change really affected the car, so the setup for qualifying was definitely not optimal, but I'm not sure we would have had anything for the Fords anyway," Gurney said. "Other than the Krohn car it seems that everyone is right around where we are, so it's not the end of the world and I think we can certainly bring the 99 car up through the field and fight for the win if we play our cards right."
Fuel strategy could play a key role in the 250-mile event, as Alex, Jon and team engineer Kyle Brannan think that, barring a spate of yellow flags, the race could become a one-stop affair. "Everyone on our team has been working very hard to get our fuel mileage up, because the Daytona race showed that the Fords have a big advantage as far as that goes," Gurney said. "We think the Krohn team is going to go for a one-stop race and if we want to win, we have to be able to match that."
Fogarty expects the race to be a non-stop traffic jam, and predicted that staying clean would be one of the toughest challenges of his stint. "This is going to be a very hectic race -- the lack of straightaways means that you're always catching someone in a bad spot, and the blind corners and rises create all sorts of ugly situations. The GT cars are in their own race, which makes it even more difficult," Fogarty said. "We're going to work hard in the warmup to improve the GAINSCO car and try some different tweaks -- even another tenth or two would be huge. If we have a pace that keeps us up front for the first 200 miles, then we'll be in position to go for the win in the last 50."
Team owner Bob Stallings continued to be impressed by the performance and cohesiveness of the GAINSCO/Blackhawk Racing squad. "I'm totally stoked about the way that everyone is working together toward one goal -- our first win," Stallings said. "We've got two of the fastest drivers in the series, and they keep learning from each other and getting faster every week. There is no doubt that it is only a matter of time until we get that first win, and it could very well be right here tomorrow."