GURNEY AND FOGARTY BOTH LEAD AS LATE DUEL IS DECIDED IN LAST-LAP DASH TO THE FINISH DAYTONA BEACH, Florida (July 3, 2008) -- GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing came up just short in the closest finish in Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series history...
GURNEY AND FOGARTY BOTH LEAD AS LATE DUEL IS DECIDED IN LAST-LAP DASH TO THE FINISH
DAYTONA BEACH, Florida (July 3, 2008) -- GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing came up just short in the closest finish in Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series history Thursday and crossed the line a scant .081 of a second behind the race winners in a thrilling last-lap dash to the checkered flag in the Brumos Porsche 250 at Daytona International Speedway.
Alex Gurney led 25 laps in the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Pontiac Riley and was up front when the race was restarted for a one-lap shootout to the finish after the fourth caution period of the night. As the field was shown dual green and white flags to start the race's 70th and final lap, Gurney stayed in front of Scott Pruett in the No. 01 TELMEX/Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley only to see the gap close heading into Daytona's bus stop chicane. Pruett drafted the GAINSCO race car as they drove through Daytona's NASCAR Turns 3 and 4 and moved to the high side and just beat Gurney to the checkered flag for the closest finish since Pruett edged Max Angelelli by .096 of a second at California Speedway on April 3, 2005.
"It's definitely no fun at all being on the wrong end of that," said Gurney, who joined teammate Jon Fogarty in leading a race-high 37 laps in the No. 99 GAINSCO machine. "I think we did everything right today. Jon had a perfect first stint and the team did great pit stops. We were leading at the end on all of those restarts but the Ganassi team had quite a bit of straight-line speed on us. I knew if I didn't have enough of the gap when I entered the chicane, there would be nothing I could do."
After qualifying second earlier on Thursday, Fogarty made a clean start and led the race from Laps 7 through 18 when he pitted and handed over to Gurney.
"It was a little spooky at the beginning with some light rain," Fogarty said. "The first couple of laps everybody was being a little tentative. I had a pretty good run for the most part. After things shook out through the first corner I was able to maintain that position until the two guys in front pitted and I was able to clear a few laps myself. When I handed it over to Alex, it was looking pretty good."
The entire race was actually pretty good for the GAINSCO team but the power of the No. 01 Lexus Riley was the deciding factor.
"It is pretty hard to defend against that sort of straight-line speed," Fogarty said. "They did a good job and we did all we could we do."
Despite Thursday's disappointment, the GAINSCO team now has two second-place showings and a victory in its last three races at Daytona. The team also finished second in the 2008 season-opening Rolex 24 in January and won last year's Brumos Porsche 250.
The narrow loss also saw the GAINSCO team lose a few valuable points to the Ganassi team with six races remaining in the 2008 Rolex Series season. The No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Pontiac Riley remains second in the team championship with 220 points. The same number of points also has Gurney and Fogarty with the second highest total in the Rolex Series Driver Championship. Pruett, Memo Rojas and the No. 01 TELMEX/Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley now have 260 points to lead both championships.
Next up for GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing and the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series is the Porsche 250 presented by Bradley Arant at Barber Motorsports Park, July 20 (Live on SPEED at 3 p.m. ET).