- Gurney & Fogarty finish second despite suspension woes
- Bob Stallings Racing moves to fifth in points
GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing, Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty Finish Second At Barber Motorsports Park
Good tire strategy and last-lap good luck give No. 99 first podium finish of 2011
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (April 9, 2011) — GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing, and drivers Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty, combined some good tire management strategy, great racing on the track and excellent pit stops with some last-lap good luck and heads-up driving to score the team’s first top-three podium finish of the season Saturday with a second-place finish in the Porsche 250 at Barber Motorsports Park.
After closing on leader and eventual race winner Scott Pruett, who co-drove with Memo Rojas, in the No. 01 TELMEX/Chip Ganassi Racing BMW Riley in the final half of the race, Gurney took the white flag in second place only to realize something was suddenly wrong with the No. 99. What he thought might have been a tire going down turned out to be a broken right rear roll bar blade that severely slowed the GAINSCO machine. Gurney kept his head in the game and his foot on the pedal, however, and did a great job bringing the stricken GAINSCO “Red Dragon” across the finish line ahead of the closing third-place car.
“We broke the right rear roll-bar blade, so the car was wobbling all over the place, and they told me I had 20 seconds back to third place,” Gurney said. “We were worried that I would make it around, because I was going really slow, but it ended up a good result with second place. Obviously we didn’t close on Scott and Memo, but a step in the right direction.”
GAINSCO made it to victory lane for the first time since closing the 2010 season with a run of four-straight podiums that started with the team’s most recent victory at New Jersey Motorsports Park last July. A victory briefly appeared to be in the cards in today’s race but GAINSCO ultimately settled for a second-place finish that will help make up for disappointing 12th and eighth-place results in the year’s opening race at Daytona and Miami.
“It’s important to get a result, we have been trying really hard, we had a definite strategy for this race, and there was a few fleeting moments there we thought we might have done it right,” Gurney said. “When I first got in we kind of worked our way through some of the guys that seemed to be off sequence and then in the last stint, when Scott was maybe four or five seconds up, it seemed to hold there for awhile, then maybe go back and forth in traffic. We were thinking ‘hey, this might work out’ depending on whose tires go away first. Probably 15 laps from the end, I definitely lost the tires and just faded pretty big time.”
Fogarty started the race from the outside pole position and drove the first half before handing the No. 99 over to Gurney.
We broke the right rear roll-bar blade, so the car was wobbling all over the place...
“It was actually quite eventful,” Fogarty said. “It was nice that the way we wanted to run the tire strategy this race I got to stay in the car quite awhile. I fell back a couple of spots at the start but was able to get them all back by the end of my stint, which was good.”
Fogarty touted a total-team effort for the strong result.
“We’re happy and the team did a great job,” Fogarty said. “We passed guys not only on the track but also during pit stops, so that was good. Good execution all the way around. We have just got to keep chipping away at the setup of the car and these tires and figuring out what works so we can win. There are too many good guys and too many good teams, and if we don’t have the entire package we are not going to win.”
This season is the first to feature the new, series-standard Continental tires, which have required teams to deal with an entirely new set of strategy and tire management issues.
“We had a good strategy, played the tires right, made all of the right calls,” Fogarty said. “It’s good, because it’s new to us, really, with these tires and has mixed up the races a little bit. It’s tough, there’s teams out there with a bigger allocation of tires than us, you have got to worry about that, but at the same time you have just got to run your own race, we did what was best for us and it was good for the second step on the podium.”
The second-place finish moved GAINSCO into the top-five in the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series Daytona Prototype Team Championship standings. After coming into the race ranked seventh, the No. 99 jumped to fifth with 74 points. GAINSCO is just two points out of fourth place and within six points of second place, although the first place No. 01 Ganassi entry has a large gap on all of the competition with 105 points.
“A the end of the day, a good result for us,” Gurney said. “None of us are super happy, we hate to get beat by the 01, as far as the championship goes. I definitely thought the team worked really hard over the weekend, and we thought a lot about how to get through each stint. It’s a new deal for us this year, in pretty much all of the Rolex races the last few years we never really managed tires ever. We just went for it the whole time. It’s a new game that we are learning.”
Next up for GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing is the Bosch Engineering 250 at Virginia International Raceway, May 13 – 14.
“I think VIR hurts the tires quite a bit too,” Gurney said. “I don’t think it will be much different, honestly, I really don’t, but it’s a good track for us and we have won there before.”