Birmingham: Series DP race report

Gurney, Fogarty Record Fifth Grand-Am Rolex Series Daytona Prototype Win Sunday at Barber Motorsports Park BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (July 22, 2007) -- The No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Pontiac Riley of Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty pulled within ...

Gurney, Fogarty Record Fifth Grand-Am Rolex Series Daytona Prototype Win Sunday at Barber Motorsports Park

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (July 22, 2007) -- The No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Pontiac Riley of Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty pulled within one victory of the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve single-season Daytona Prototype record with a 6.033-second win in Sunday's Porsche 250 presented by Bradley Arant at Barber Motorsports Park.

Gurney earned the team's fifth win of the season on the track, but the final margin of victory was not indicative of the battle on the 2.3-mile, 16-turn permanent road course. Gurney spent the race's final 20 laps with his mirrors filled by Colin Braun in the No. 75 Krohn Racing Pontiac Riley. However, Gurney was able to hold off the 18-year-old's advance for the team's fifth win.

Fogarty began the race from the pole, steadily pulling away from the No. 23 Alex Job Racing Ruby Tuesday Porsche Crawford of Patrick Long through the race's early stages. An early-race collision involving four cars near the back of the field left debris on the track and brought out a full course caution on Lap 11, sending most of the field scrambling to complete the mandated pit stop within the race's first 45 minutes. The No. 99 team took that opportunity to make its driver change, and Fogarty's day was finished.

"We were very cognoscente of where the (No.) 01 car (with championship leader Scott Pruett) was during the whole time," Fogarty said. "That kind of played into our decision-making process. We tried to open up that gap, and that kind of allowed us the chance to do the driver change when we did. I was a little surprised; I didn't feel like we were racing at all. That was definitely the earliest part of the window where that decision was going to be made. Between our last practice session and the race, the track was a little off during my stint. Luckily, everything went well in the pits, and glad we could pick up some points on the leader."

Gurney rejoined the race in fifth, passing Hurley Haywood in the No. 59 Brumos Porsche Riley for fourth and inheriting third when leader Christian Fittipaldi spun the No. 39 Cheever Racing Crown Royal Special Reserve Pontiac Fabcar in the final turn a few laps later. After chasing down the No. 58 Red Bull Brumos Porsche Riley of Darren Law for second on Lap 22, Gurney set his sights on the leader -- Braun's teammate Nic Jonsson -- who was 3.031 seconds ahead.

While Gurney continued to climb, the No. 19 Chip Ganassi with Felix Sabates Racing Z-Line Designs/Mission Residential Lexus Riley of Michael Valiante pulled off course with a broken driveshaft. This brought out the race's second full-course caution, bringing the entire field into the pits for their final scheduled pit stops. While a number of teams -- including the No. 75 -- made its driver changes, the No. 99 took advantage of its early switch to regain the lead.

Gurney led from Lap 47 on, pulling a full second away from Braun until a Lap 66 caution period to retrieve Marc Goossens' stalled No. 91 Riley-Matthews Motorsports Pontiac Riley bunched the field, enabling Braun's late race effort.

"We did everything right today," Gurney said. "Jon got the pole and led for his stint, had a quick pit stop, and we were playing with the fuel the entire time. Someone was on the radio with me the whole time, which was pretty tough because Colin never really let up on me. Otherwise, it was a great day."

The victory left the duo tied for third in the Rolex Series Championship, closing the gap to 13 points on championship leader Scott Pruett after Pruett's fifth-place finish. Max Angelelli, driving the No. 10 SunTrust Racing Pontiac Riley, finished in third position and remains 11 points behind Pruett.

Fuel played an effort in Braun's chase of Gurney, as the long last stint hampered Braun's efforts to run flat out. Braun actually ran out of fuel entering the race's final turn and coasted across the line in second place.

"I think our team did a great job this weekend," Braun said. "I didn't really have a chance to pass Alex; he was quick the whole time. My plan was to stay close and then with five or six laps to go maybe start to make a run because he was slowing down during the middle of his stint there. I guess I didn't do as good of job of saving fuel as I could have; I started running out of fuel there with about three laps to go. From there, I just wanted to make sure we had enough fuel to go until the end."

With Krohn Racing searching for its first win of 2007, the team decided to switch strategy. For the first time this season, Braun and Jonsson teamed together at Barber Motorsports Park, where Braun won a season ago.

"We thought we'd switch it up a little bit," Jonsson said of this weekend's driver change. "Obviously, it feels fantastic for me because I was able to lead the race for a lot of laps today, so it's great. The team did an awesome job again, putting the car together. We were quickest all weekend, like Colin said, but just couldn't pull it off in the race. You know, we still sat on the podium, which is great, and we grabbed some points. Hopefully we'll go to Montreal in a couple weeks and pull out a win there."

Braun also thought that this weekend could have been the breakthrough for the team.

"Nic did a really good job during his stint, and I guess I'm just a little disappointed," Braun said. "We had a quick car all weekend, and I wanted to get a win for the guys. They've all been working really hard. But this is definitely an improvement. Nic did a really good job, and hopefully we can go to Montreal, and get a good finish."

Crossing the finish line more than 40 seconds behind the lead duo was the three-car pack of Angelelli, Donohue and Pruett, who battled for much of the final stint for third position.

Angelelli held off both drivers and the Birmingham heat, finishing the race and being immediately loaded into an ambulance for treatment and fluids at the track's medical facility. Angelelli recovered quickly and was soon characteristically joking with the doctors.

"I cannot believe it," Angelelli said after his third-place finish and release from the medical center. "I don't know how I did it. But definitely it was like a bad dream. I cannot even connect right now. My head is so fuzzy. Thank goodness we have a week off!"

Memo Gidley, who raced the season's first seven races in another Daytona Prototype before teaming with Angelelli this weekend, practiced minimally and qualified fourth. Thinking of the big picture and Angelelli's championship hopes, Gidley sprinted ahead of Pruett's No. 01 teammate Memo Rojas to make an early race driver change. The strategy paid off as Angelelli left the pits under the first caution period in third position.

"The plan was definitely to try and be ahead of the (No.) 01 car," Gidley said. "Stretching it out early was important because we could make a driver change, and hopefully that would leapfrog us, which it did, up to third place. It was hard to sit there and watch it; I wish I was out there. But it was an awesome strategy, and it was great working with Max. I've kind of been a team leader with the teams I've been with over the last couple years. It's awesome to be in a situation to work with Max and guys who have a lot of experience."

Donohue and co-driver Darren Law had equally impressive stints in the No. 58 Red Bull/Brumos Racing Porsche Riley, scoring the team's ninth straight top-10 finish in the fourth-place effort. Both drivers ran among the top five all afternoon, with Donohue glued to Angelelli's Pontiac throughout the final laps of the race.

Pruett and Rojas finished fifth a week after recording the victory at Iowa Speedway. Pruett was in contention for a top-five finish throughout his stint, but couldn't match the leaders' prowess.

The Rolex Series Daytona Prototype and GT classes resume action Aug. 3 at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. It marks the maiden race for the series on the 2.708-mile, 15-turn temporary road course.

-credit: garra

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Nic Jönsson
Teams Krohn Racing , Alex Job Racing