GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Begins Quest for Second Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Title at Daytona Test Days DALLAS (January 2, 2009) -- GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing will take the first step in recapturing the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car ...
GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Begins Quest for Second Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Title at Daytona Test Days
DALLAS (January 2, 2009) -- GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing will take the first step in recapturing the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Championships, and the team's first Rolex 24 At Daytona victory, this weekend at 2009 Daytona Test Days at Daytona International Speedway, January 3 -- 5. Champion drivers Alex Gurney, Jon Fogarty and Jimmy Vasser will likely be joined by teammate and fellow champion Jimmie Johnson for Monday's final session of the three-day test.
Daytona Test Days marks the first official on-track activity for the Grand-Am Rolex Series of 2009 and GAINSCO's first time back at "The World Center of Racing" since last July's Brumos Porsche 250. GAINSCO finished second in that race and also took runner-up honors in the 2008 Rolex 24 At Daytona with the all-star lineup of Gurney, Fogarty, Vasser and Johnson. The same four drivers will return for the 47th annual running of the Rolex 24, January 24 -- 25, fully determined to finish one position higher after last year's strong second-place showing.
"Having the same driver lineup back for the 24 is a big advantage," said Gurney, who won the pole with GAINSCO for the 2007 Rolex 24. "Most teams don't have a full understanding of what the race demands, from small things like how the seats fit each driver to big things like how the pit sequences work. We have the advantage of having figured all that out. We know that everyone on our team works well together and is super-focused on a win."
Gurney and Fogarty return in 2009 as GAINSCO's lead drivers for their fourth year together and third full season as teammates. They joined the GAINSCO/Bob Stallings crew in winning the 2007 Rolex Series Team and Driver titles and finished second in both championships last year. A strong result in the Rolex 24 always makes a championship run easier, and Fogarty knows they have the right driver lineup to put them back on the victory lane podium at Daytona later this month.
"Getting the same team back together again is a big deal," said Fogarty, who led several laps in last year's Rolex 24, along with Gurney and Johnson. "It just smoothes things out in terms of the learning curve. That's a big strong point of this team, not only for the 24 but from season to season. We have a good formula for winning, but that shouldn't be misconstrued as complacency. When you find something that works, you stick with it. The competition always forces us to push ourselves but we can do it in an environment we're comfortable with."
Strong comfort levels have also been established with Vasser and Johnson who are just as important to GAINSCO's success as their teammates. Vasser, the 1996 CART Champ Car World Series Champion, has been GAINSCO's primary hired gun in endurance races for the past three years and the team has never raced in a Rolex 24 without him. Johnson was impressive in the rain and led 14 laps in his debut with GAINSCO in last year's Rolex 24 and is just as skilled in sports cars as he is in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition.
"The Rolex 24 is an awesome experience and challenge," said Johnson, the three-time reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion. "Two or three of the years I've raced I've been in the car as the sun has come up, which is one of the coolest things a driver can experience. I've always been a fan of endurance sports car racing, and this environment has always been appealing to me. I'm extremely interested in other forms of motorsports. I love how different the Daytona Prototype cars are. It allows me to go back to my world and see things a little differently."
This year marks Johnson's fifth Rolex 24 Daytona Prototype start while Vasser brings more experience in the race to the team than his younger teammates, including an IMSA GTP Lights class victory in 1992 in an Acura Spice with Parker Johnstone and Dan Marvin.
"We learned last year that Jimmy and Jimmie don't make mistakes, so we can hopefully look forward to trouble-free runs from everyone," Gurney said. "I'm very excited about it and I think we're in as good a position as anyone. I think the formula was right last year and, other than fine tuning a few things, we should be in good shape."
Morning and afternoon practice sessions will be run each day of the test with a special night practice on Saturday's schedule from 6:30 -- 8:00 p.m. In addition to the on-track activity, Gurney, Fogarty and Vasser will also represent GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing in a special Fan Forum at 12:15 p.m. Saturday in Daytona's Sprint FANZONE in the infield. All three days of Daytona Test Days are open to the public for a $10 admission, which includes access to the infield, garage, Sprint FANZONE and all Fan Forums.