GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing charges back into Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Title Contention with second-place in Brumos Porsche 250 GURNEY LEADS TWICE IN FINAL FIVE LAPS AS GAINSCO SCORES FOURTH PODIUM FINISH OF 2009 DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.
GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing charges back into Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Title Contention with second-place in Brumos Porsche 250
GURNEY LEADS TWICE IN FINAL FIVE LAPS AS GAINSCO SCORES FOURTH PODIUM FINISH OF 2009
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 4, 2009) -- GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing's Alex Gurney battled with Max Angelelli to the end in Saturday's Brumos Porsche 250 At Daytona and joined teammate Jon Fogarty in moving the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance team back into the thick of the 2009 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Championship fight with a strong second-place finish in the Fourth of July race.
Gurney took over from starting driver Fogarty at the halfway point of the 70-lap race and gradually reeled in Angelelli's No. 10 SunTrust Ford Dallara in the race's final 20 laps. Gurney slipped by for the lead in the run out NASCAR Turn 1 on Lap 67 and again on the final lap but both times Angelelli was able to out-horsepower the No. 99 by the time the leaders reached Daytona's Bus Stop chicane. Gurney crossed the finish line just .270 of a second behind the winning SunTrust car to give GAINSO its third consecutive top-two finish in the summer Daytona race. The team also finished second last year and won in 2007.
"It was a very eventful race for me," Gurney said. "It was definitely very slippery and very hot today. We had a very good car and it felt like we were a little bit quicker under braking and, just in general, pretty good in the infield. Maybe we were down a mile an hour or two on the banking, and that definitely hurt us. I got a couple of runs there right at the end of the race but that was it. Max drove a great race, both of us were nice and clean, and it was good for the championship. We closed the gap quite a bit to P1 and we feel very good about the rest of the season."
GAINSCO actually fell to third from second in the rankings but a big gain was made in the actual point standings. Saturday's seventh-place finishers Scott Pruett, Memo Rojas and the No. 01 TELMEX/Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley still lead with 199 points, SunTrust and its drivers have 198 points and the GAINSCO squad has 196 points. GAINSCO came into the Brumos Porsche 250 ranked second but 11 points behind the Ganassi team.
"It's pretty wild," said Fogarty, who led eight laps in his opening stint. "I guess we slipped back a position but we are definitely closer to the lead. It is an extremely tight fight between a lot of good teams and I expect that to be the case until the end of the season."
Saturday's race was run in typical Fourth of July Florida weather, with extreme humidity, searing sunshine and temperatures in the mid-90s.
"It was hot, kind of miserable and slippery but kind of an uneventful ride," said Fogarty, who started the race after qualifying second earlier on Saturday. "I was very patient. I think we had a quicker car overall, but we just couldn't do anything on the banking in the NASCAR portions of the track."
Five races remain on the 2009 schedule and GAINSCO is looking for its second Grand-Am Rolex Series title in three years.
"I am thinking championship but I was definitely trying to win the race today," Gurney said. "I wasn't going to do anything stupid, especially on the last lap going into the chicane. I felt like I would have been too far to the left to out-brake him, and Max was going in there pretty deep anyway. I thought it was a really clean race and I didn't think Max moved down on me at all. On the banking we were side-by-side, but it was no big deal. It was a nice clean race and we would have wanted to be on top, but that is how it goes sometimes."
GAINSCO's biggest drama of the race actually came before the green flag even flew. Gurney noticed some steering issues in the morning warm-up and it turned out the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Pontiac Riley needed a completely new steering rack assembly. The repair job was completed less than 10 minutes before the scheduled race start at 2 p.m. ET.
"The crew did a fantastic job and were totally thrashing," Fogarty said. "Those guys were probably sweating as bad as we were. A new steering rack went in, they got the car back together and realigned and it we just made it out basically for the reconnaissance laps. It was a terrific job on their part."
"It was about an hour job that the GAINSCO crew did in about a half an hour," Gurney said. "They were really hustling and that kind of thing makes a difference when it comes to winning a championship."
Next up for GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing is the Porsche 250 presented by Legacy Credit Union at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama, July 17 -- 19. The Barber race can be seen live on SPEED at 3 p.m. ET.