GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing and Jon Fogarty on front row at Barber Motorsports Park with No. 99 “Red Dragon”
“One-and-done” lap gives GAINSCO and Fogarty second consecutive front-row start
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (April 8, 2011) — GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing and driver Jon Fogarty only needed one quick lap in the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Chevrolet Riley to nail down the team’s second-consecutive front row starting spot Friday at Barber Motorsports Park, and that’s exactly what they did to qualify second for tomorrow’s Porsche 250. GAINSCO, Fogarty and his co-driver Alex Gurney will be looking for their third race win at Barber in the last five years in the 2-¾-hour timed sprint that goes green at 3 p.m. local time, Saturday, April 9. The race will be telecast on SPEED this Sunday, April 10, at Noon ET/9 a.m. PT.
Fogarty won the pole one race ago in the Grand Prix of Miami and locked down another front-row starting berth at Barber with a lap time of 1:22.178 (100.757 mph) in his first and only flying lap in the 15-minute session. Teams are working through various strategies to maximize the life of the new-for-2011 series-standard Continental tires, and GAINSCO opted for a “one-and-done” approach in qualifying.
“We don’t want to run more laps than necessary,” Fogarty said. “I was happy to get the lap done early, and it was a pretty good lap. We considered some options that were far more drastic to save tires, we didn’t do them, and we just have to manage tires. That’s basically what it boils down to, and it’s nothing new. It just adds another element to the race and to the whole weekend.”
I was happy to get the lap done early, and it was a pretty good lap.
Following the team’s usual approach to sprint races, Fogarty will start the race and then hand the No. 99 “Red Dragon” over to Gurney, who will take the car to the finish.
“It was a good run today, for sure, Jon did a good job,” Gurney said. “A lot of unknowns tomorrow, really, on a full-stint run. I haven’t seen anybody do anything longer than a seven or eight lap run, maybe not even that. We only did one lap in qualifying, so that will help at the start of the race too with the tire wear.”
Daytona Prototype teams are limited to five tire sets per race weekend, but teams with “young gun” or sportsman drivers can benefit from up to two more full sets at each event.
“It’s a little strange because we have to manage tires relative to people who are in our tire category,” Fogarty said. “There are other teams out there who have a greater allotment, but we can’t really worry about that. We are just going to keep working on it, we have got some good ideas, the engineers have some good ideas that should help us in the race as far as tire longevity, and hopefully we implement those with success and we can go out and win this thing.”
GAINSCO, Gurney and Fogarty won from the front row at Barber in 2007 and 2009. A third victory at the track, and the team’s first win of 2011, is the obvious goal tomorrow.
We only did one lap in qualifying, so that will help at the start of the race too with the tire wear.
“To convert the front row start to a win, I think we’re just going to have to be extremely smart during the race relative to pacing ourselves and conserving the car and the tires,” Fogarty said. “Getting the front row was an accelerated challenge. We didn’t test here with these tires in the fall, so we kind of had to come up with a setup that we thought would work based on the first two races and our experiences here in the past. We’re getting there but we’re not all the way there. The pole-winning 90 car seems to be exceptionally quick, they unloaded quick, and they’re good over a run, so they’re doing a great job. We have some ideas that should help us in the race, but ultimately our goal is to have a consistent car over the race, not necessarily maximize our E.T., so that’s what it’ll take to win, and staying out of trouble.”
A win Saturday would put GAINSCO back in the 2011 championship race. The team had a pair of disappointing finishes in the first races of the year at Daytona International Speedway in January and at Miami. GAINSCO overcame mechanical and contact-related issues in the season-opening Rolex 24 to finish 12th and then soldiered to eighth last month at Homestead-Miami after dealing with race-long tire trouble. After winning both the Porsche 250 and the GRAND-AM Rolex Series Daytona Prototype Championships in 2007 and 2009, GAINSCO now finds itself an unfamiliar seventh in the Daytona Prototype Team Championship standings with 42 points.
Gurney, Fogarty and the team’s Chief Race Engineer Kyle Brannan all live on the West coast, but nowhere near each other. Telephone calls to discuss race strategy are normal operating procedure but their frequency picked up a little after the team’s difficulties at the Homestead-Miami race. “None of us were happy about the Homestead result so I would say the phone lines have been a little more active lately,” Gurney said. “We think we still have a great opportunity to win another championship so we want to leave no stone unturned.”… Fogarty also firmly believes GAINSCO can win tomorrow at Barber and another title. “I have confidence in the team’s ability to win at Barber, we have done it in the past and our package this year is as good as any other season,” Fogarty said. “There are always things that race teams cannot control, any race team, but our team will go about the things we can control and maximize the car for this track. Alex and I will use the tools we have and with that we should be in a great position for victory.”… Gurney won both his and the team’s first pole at Barber back in 2005. “We’ve had several great moments at Barber Motorsports Park but I think getting my first pole in my first ever qualifying attempt in GRAND-AM was something I will never forget,” Gurney said.