Tough day at Daytona turns Rolex 24 into a harsh lesson in endurance racing for Gurney, Stallings and the GAINSCO/Blackhawk Racing team DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - A promising start and high hopes at the Rolex 24 at Daytona have turned into sheer ...
Tough day at Daytona turns Rolex 24 into a harsh lesson in endurance racing for Gurney, Stallings and the GAINSCO/Blackhawk Racing team
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - A promising start and high hopes at the Rolex 24 at Daytona have turned into sheer perseverance for the GAINSCO/Blackhawk Racing team, as a second-row start for Alex Gurney and strong, consistent laps early went for naught. On Lap 120, the No. 77 Daytona Prototype spun off in front of the team's No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Pontiac Riley, piloted by Rocky Moran, Jr. Moran had nowhere to go and slammed into the side of the 77 car, doing substantial damage to the machine. Repairs were effected skillfully and quickly in the garage area, and the team returned to the track on Lap 142.
But just 14 laps later, Rocky brought the car back to the pits with a driveline failure, which required another lengthy stay behind the wall for repairs. All in all, the No. 99 lost around 50 laps to the leader - and the team's now treating the Rolex 24 - the team's first-ever true endurance race - as a learning experience, while still clicking off laps with 13 hours left in the race. As the halfway point approaches, Alex Gurney is back behind the wheel.
1996 Champ Car champion Jimmy Vasser got into the car for the first time on Lap 232 and quickly began turning fast times, despite the damage. His performance has helped the team climb back into the 35th position overall at the 11-hour, 20-minute mark. Disappointed but undaunted, Vasser is ready to keep plugging away to the finish.
"It's very unfortunate that we had that incident with the No. 77 car, because up to that point we were in great position to be competitive throughout the race," Vasser said. "But we're not even to the halfway point- there's a long way to go, and we're definitely not going to give up.
"Hey, we're up to 18th in class," he joked. "A lot of things can still happen in this kind of race."
Jimmy said the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Pontiac Riley was "doing OK," but that the many repairs and adjustments made to react to the problems the team had faced - such as raising the ride height - had thrown its handling off. "We're down on power, too," he said.
The Rolex 24 continues for another 12 hours, until the checkered flag drops at 12:15 p.m. Eastern time Sunday.