BUSINESS AT AND AWAY FROM THE TRACK KEEPS GAINSCO/BOB STALLINGS TEAM BUSY AT GAINSCO GRAND PRIX OF MIAMI TEST RILEY MK XX TESTING AND MIAMI OFFICE VISIT KEEP TEAMS AND DRIVERS ON THE MOVE MIAMI (March 4, 2008) -- A full schedule of business...
BUSINESS AT AND AWAY FROM THE TRACK KEEPS GAINSCO/BOB STALLINGS TEAM BUSY AT GAINSCO GRAND PRIX OF MIAMI TEST
RILEY MK XX TESTING AND MIAMI OFFICE VISIT KEEP TEAMS AND DRIVERS ON THE MOVE
MIAMI (March 4, 2008) -- A full schedule of business at and away from the race track kept reigning Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Champions GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing busy in Miami last week where two-days of testing at Homestead-Miami Speedway was combined with a corporate visit to the Miami-based headquarters of GAINSCO Auto Insurance. The Homestead test was in preparation for next month's GAINSCO Grand Prix of Miami, which is the kick-off event of a Saturday, March 29, double-header that also includes the GAINSCO Auto Insurance Indy 300.
The Monday and Tuesday test gave the GAINSCO team and 2007 Rolex Series Co-Champions Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty their first laps behind the wheel of a Pontiac Riley fitted with the chassis manufacturer's new Mk XX bodywork. The race car used for the test was a back-up Pontiac Riley that the team refers to as "No. 98." Despite its nickname, the Riley wore the familiar GAINSCO and No. 99 markings although the red primer flat finish gave away the fact that this was likely not the team's primary race car. The usual No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Pontiac Riley, which was driven to a second-place finish in the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona and seven wins and the Rolex Series Championships last year, will return for the GAINSCO Grand Prix of Miami, complete with new Riley MK XX bodywork.
"The Homestead test was a definite challenge," Gurney said. "We used the No. 98 car for the first time and we had our first run with the new Riley bodywork as well. The team had a lot thrown at them but performed very well. The test was an eye-opener in many ways. We do feel the that the Pontiacs have been a little unfairly penalized rules-wise for doing such a great job last year and that became evident during the test."
Although Grand-Am did not issue lap times from the two-day test, the GAINSCO team was unofficially the fastest Pontiac despite trailing several Ford and Lexus powered Daytona Prototypes on the speed charts.
"We did reaffirm that the other engine manufacturers were granted too much freedom in the off season," Fogarty said. "With this reality we have to try to make the most of what we have and we are coming up with ideas that will give us the best race car possible. As a team, we still have many advantages over our competition and we will have to draw on those strengths -- as usual -- to maintain our current position in the championship."
Fogarty also experienced teamwork of a different but similarly positive kind in his visit to the Miami GAINSCO offices the Wednesday after the test. His visit was the first of three such corporate days that will take place at GAINSCO's main offices in both Dallas and Miami in the next month's time. Gurney and Fogarty will visit Dallas headquarters on March 19th and team owner Bob Stallings will join the driving duo for another stop at the Miami office on the Wednesday prior to the GAINSCO Grand Prix of Miami and GAINSCO Auto Insurance Indy 300.
"Visiting the GAINSCO Miami headquarters was really the highlight of the trip," said Fogarty, who spent five full hours at the office. "The No. 99 car has become such an integral part of the GAINSCO company, and you really have a sense of belonging and purpose when you visit the employees. Everyone in Miami was super excited to have me there, and visiting each department was great and gave me some insight as to the structure and mechanics of an efficient business."
A total of 122 people work at the Miami office and many of them will be among the more than 300 GAINSCO guests in attendance at the Homestead-Miami event later this month. Other GAINSCO partners scheduled to attend the races include Territory Managers from throughout Florida as well as valued agent partners from the Sunshine State that are among a network of 4,000 national independent agents that sell GAINSCO Auto Insurance.
Fogarty sees some similarities between the GAINSCO Auto Insurance team and structure with the Rolex Series championship-winning GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing team.
"It really is much like the race team, only much larger," Fogarty said. "I am really glad that we have a race so near one of the GAINSCO offices. It gives us a great opportunity to bring racing close to those who support us. It will be great to have a huge red cheering section."