GAINSCO/Blackhawk rides the comeback trail at Brumos Porsche 250 DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.- Sports car racing is about endurance - perseverance in the face of adversity - and that was amply demonstrated July 1 as the GAINSCO/Blackhawk Racing squad's...
GAINSCO/Blackhawk rides the comeback trail at Brumos Porsche 250
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.- Sports car racing is about endurance - perseverance in the face of adversity - and that was amply demonstrated July 1 as the GAINSCO/Blackhawk Racing squad's never-say-die attitude netted a come-from- behind ninth-place finish in the Brumos Porsche 250 at the Daytona International Speedway.
After falling off the lead lap early on, the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Pontiac Riley was running as low as 20th when owner-driver Bob Stallings pitted under yellow to turn the car over to Alex Gurney. The pit stop was timed to get the car back on the lead lap, but those hopes were dashed when Grand-Am officials required the crew to fix the car's inoperative brake and rain lights. Luckily, the problem was quickly diagnosed and repaired, but those precious seconds with the engine cover off meant that Alex missed beating the safety car off pit lane by just a few carlengths.
Despite the setback, Alex battled hard to bring the car through the field, and another caution put the team right back on the lead lap. In the waning laps, Alex battled in a spectacular wheel-to-wheel duel with the hard- charging Scott Pruett before bringing the car home for the team's second top-ten finish in as many starts.
Alex credited his performance to the team effort which kept the car underneath him and put him back on the lead lap.
"I am so proud of the GAINSCO team and for Bob putting in a trouble-free stint despite having very little track time. We managed to get back on the lead lap through pit strategy and good stops. It was a very tough, competitive race but classic Grand-Am, with non-stop bumping and banging the whole way. These races are so much fun!"
Stallings agreed - noting that the crew had had to scramble all day to keep the car in good running order.
"The crew did a great job this weekend, overcoming many issues to get us in the race. During the second practice session, right before qualifying, I drove the car off track - creating a big mess and doing some damage. Despite having less than an hour to clean and repair the No. 99 machine, Mark Lubin and the rest of the guys did the impossible and got us out in time to qualify," Stallings said. "Our engineer, Kyle Brannan, also did a fantastic job. With no experience at Daytona and very little time to tune the car, he gave us an extremely driveable setup that allowed Alex to fight his way into the top ten."
As a learning experience, Bob and Alex both felt the lack of track time acutely.
"This was our first time at this venue and we had very little time to dial in the car and experience the nuances of running the high banks," Stallings said. "We will be better here next year."
With two strong performances behind him, Alex is still looking for more. "We're happy to get a top ten from an off weekend," Gurney said. "But we'll be shooting much higher at Barber!"
The GAINSCO/Blackhawk Racing team will now take a week off before beginning an intensive testing program leading up to the next stop for the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Pontiac Riley: Birmingham, Alabama's Barber Motorsports Park. There, on July 29-31, Bob and Alex will join the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series for Round 8, the Porsche 250 presented by Bradley Arant. The event will be televised live on SPEED Channel, Sunday, July 31 at 11:30 a.m. Eastern time.