GAINSCO team goes fast under the lights in Daytona night test session DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 5, 2007) -- The night proved to be friendly for the GAINSCO Auto Insurance team, as Jon Fogarty turned the fourth-fastest lap of the evening in the...
GAINSCO team goes fast under the lights in Daytona night test session
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 5, 2007) -- The night proved to be friendly for the GAINSCO Auto Insurance team, as Jon Fogarty turned the fourth-fastest lap of the evening in the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Pontiac Riley, during the penultimate day of the Rolex Sports Car Series Roar Before The Rolex 24 pre-season test at Daytona International Speedway. Fogarty, who clocked in a time of 1m, 45.422s at an average speed of 121.569 mph around the 3.56-mile speedway road course, was pleased with the GAINSCO team's progress in developing a fast but stable setup for the grueling 24-hour endurance contest, to be held Jan. 27-28, which opens the 2007 Rolex Sports Car Series season.
"It's always good to be quick, especially because it's tough to get clean laps around here. The whole world is conspiring against you to keep you from running a quick lap with all the traffic," Fogarty said. "We wanted to see what the change in temperature would do to the balance of the GAINSCO car -- it's going to be different come race day, but this is the best we can do to simulate conditions like that. We want a car that's fast in case there's a dogfight in the last hour -- but we need a car that's drivable for 24 hours. It's most important to have a comfortable car, which is a car that'll keep us out of trouble."
The GAINSCO team has learned that lesson through hard experience -- in last year's Rolex 24, the team's first-ever endurance race, an early accident was followed by several mechanical failures which all conspired to keep the team from taking a shot at the victory.
"Every single car in the top-5 went behind the wall last year," Alex Gurney said. "If someone had just kept it on the track, they'd have won. We don't want to be out of the picture on speed but we're not too focused on it. We want to work on getting a reliable, sorted car."
Gurney, who arrived at the track today, did not drive in the first two days of the test, as he was spending time at home with his new baby, Natalie -- his wife, Colleen, gave birth on Dec. 28. Tomorrow, he'll get behind the wheel to continue development of the GAINSCO Pontiac, and he's got a lot of trust in the setup from Fogarty and Jimmy Vasser's testing.
"We've got three really stout guys in the car who can focus on our setups together. We're all friends and California guys and we know each other's moves," Gurney said.
Vasser's laptimes, driven into the night, were quick, consistent and solid, and he continued the theme of consistent, drivable setups being the key to endurance success.
"The bottom line is, I think the GAINSCO 99 car is going to be fast enough to win the race -- but how little trouble can we get in?" Vasser said. "Under the lights, racing's always a little more crazy. You gotta keep your nose clean and that's what we did."
Team owner Bob Stallings was very pleased with the performance of his drivers and the GAINSCO Boys as a whole, especially after a three-month layoff from competitive racing. Stallings, team manager Terry Wilbert and new crew chief Linc Smith have worked together to take the team to a new level of professionalism and performance for the 2007 season.
"The good thing about this test is that it's about three weeks before the race and it gives us all an opportunity to take the data we get here, go home, think about it, and get mentally prepared for what this GAINSCO team is about to go through for 24 straight hours," Stallings said. "Over the offseason, we really tried to upgrade the team in every way. We moved Terry up to take on a team manager role and brought in Linc in his place, while hiring more full-time crew. Our objective is to be a little bit more professional than last year."
Both Pontiac and GAINSCO Auto Insurance have boosted their support of the GAINSCO team for the 2007 season, a move Stallings sees as a vote of confidence in the promise the team showed in its first season-and-a-half of competition in the Rolex Series.
"We are pretty grateful to GM and Pontiac for selecting us to be a racing partner -- it shows that they believe we can contend for the championship this year," Stallings said. "GAINSCO's upped their commitment to us as well and the sponsorship has been a real success. We'll be doing a lot of new things this year and we're really excited about our chances this season."
The GAINSCO Boys will return to action tomorrow for the final day of pre-season testing, with on-track action for the Rolex Series beginning at 10:15 a.m. Bob, Alex, Jon and Jimmy will participate in a press conference at 12:45 p.m. to talk more about the team's plans for 2007.