GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing press release
GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing leads with Alex Gurney and Memo Gidley in opening hours of 50th Anniversary Rolex 24 At Daytona
No. 99 GAINSCO “Red Dragon” leads first Corvette Daytona Prototype race laps
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (January 28, 2012) — GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing has led and already made history in its new No. 99 “Red Dragon” Corvette Daytona Prototype in the opening hours of the 50th Anniversary Rolex 24 At Daytona where team drivers Alex Gurney and Memo Gidley have both run up front. The opening segment of live Rolex 24 race coverage on SPEED continues through 11 p.m. ET/8 p.m. PT Saturday evening and resumes again at 9 a.m. ET/6 a.m. PT on Sunday
Gurney, who qualified the No. 99 fourth quickest with a lap time of 1:41.519 (126.242 mph) on Thursday, started the race and stayed in front-pack contention from the drop of the green flag at 3:30 p.m. local time. He passed for the lead at the end of the race’s opening hour on Lap 31 and took the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance machine into the record books as the first of Chevrolet’s all-new Corvette Daytona Prototypes to lead a race lap in GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series competition.
“We’re pretty happy,” Gurney said. “The very beginning of the race you’re always focused on not hitting anything and making sure no one does anything crazy on the start. We lost a position on the start, so I was running fifth for a while, but we had a pretty good pace, I think, second, third, fourth, fifth, then Angelelli got caught up in some traffic and I got around him. Then I just settled in, running a hard pace but trying to be careful in traffic too. They keep pounding that in their heads. I didn’t have any close calls, so it was a good start for the new Corvette.”
A win with his GAINSCO teammates a full 50 years after Gurney’s famous father Dan Gurney won the inaugural sports car race at Daytona, then called the Daytona Continental, would be a dream come true.
“That’s the goal for sure,” Gurney said. “That kind of chance doesn’t come along very often and 50 years is a big landmark. We haven’t won this race before, so that’s the perfect time to make it happen.”
As usual in the Rolex 24, traffic is always a major concern.
“I think it’s the most crucial factor,” Gurney said. “Having 45 GTs is just a huge GT field with about five drivers per car. We are trying to get to know all of them and when we come up on them, I’m trying to anticipate how fast this guy is going to go through this corner. That’s a little bit of a guessing game but we have to err on the side of caution, for sure.”
Gurney has also noticed some heavy traffic – foot traffic – in the infield at Daytona International Speedway (DIS). The crowd on hand Saturday for the Rolex 24 is as big as any race in recent memory.
“No doubt, a lot of people here, obviously everyone has been saying it and I certainly noticed it walking down during the fan walk,” Gurney said. “It’s pretty awesome to see. I know how passionate Jim France is about building this series and it seems to really be catching on. We’ve been in it almost since the start and we feel part of it. It’s great to see, the fans are super excited, so we’re stoked.”
Gidley took over for Gurney for his first official race stint with GAINSCO and also took the No. 99 GAINSCO “Red Dragon” to the front of the field. The team’s third driver Jon Fogarty is now at the wheel and on lead-lap contention as the Rolex 24 approaches the four-hour complete mark.