Alex Gurney and No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Chevy Riley top final practice Sunday at the Roar Before The Rolex 24 At Daytona; GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Sets The Pace In Two Of Three Afternoon Session DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 10, 2009) --...
Alex Gurney and No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Chevy Riley top final practice Sunday at the Roar Before The Rolex 24 At Daytona; GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Sets The Pace In Two Of Three Afternoon Session
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 10, 2009) -- Hitting on a solid setup in the last session of a cold but competitive Roar Before The Rolex 24 At Daytona weekend of testing, reigning GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series Co-Champion Alex Gurney and GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing topped the time sheets in Sunday's final one-hour practice session at Daytona International Speedway with the team's fastest lap of the weekend.
Gurney ripped off a lap of 1:41.319 (126.492 mph) late in the run on GAINSCO's 14th timed lap of the Sunday practice to pace the field in two of the three day test's afternoon sessions. Gurney and the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Chevy Riley were also the fastest in Friday's afternoon practice.
"That last session we made a pretty big gain," said Gurney, who won the pole with GAINSCO for the 2007 Rolex 24 At Daytona. "We pretty much wildly changed the setup of the car and it was a gain, a big gain. We still have a lot to learn and we really don't know how fast everyone else is, but it was very promising this time. We definitely took a nice step in the right direction."
GAINSCO, Gurney and co-driver Jon Fogarty won the 2009 GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series Daytona Prototype Team and Driver Championships for the second time in three years after first capturing the same titles in 2007. Fogarty took his final laps of the test Sunday morning.
"We threw a lot at the car in that last session," Fogarty said. "Alex ran the whole thing and did a good job and got the most out of it. For the conditions, it seems to be good and it gives us a broader sense of the directions we can head off to on race weekend if necessary. It was great work by the engineers and entire GAINSCO team all the way around."
Jimmy Vasser also turned in a solid performance over the three-day test and performed as if he is ready to run the Rolex 24 At Daytona tomorrow. He joins Gurney in preparing for his fifth consecutive Rolex 24 At Daytona with GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing.
"I feel real good," said Vasser, who drove his final stint of the test in Sunday's morning session. "The car and the team are hitting on all cylinders, just like a championship team would and should, and personally I feel good. I have been working on my fitness and that's a little more difficult as you get a little older in life, but it's important for me to put my best foot forward in this race. It is an important race for GAINSCO and one of the races that they have never won. Once again, I feel honored and flattered to be here and really appreciate the offer that Bob Stallings has given me to be part of this team."
Gurney, Fogarty and Vasser will be joined by four-time reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion Jimmie Johnson for the Rolex 24 At Daytona. It is the third consecutive year that GAINSCO will feature the same All-American Champion driver lineup for the Daytona opener. The teammates finished second in their first Rolex 24 together with GAINSCO in 2008 and backed it up with a seventh-place finish last January in the 2009 edition of the day-long endurance race. Johnson was not available to test this weekend but will join the team on the opening day of the Rolex 24 on Thursday, Jan. 28.