GAINSCO Pontiac Finishes Second At Daytona Stevenson Motorsports third in GT Daytona, Fla., July 3, 2008 -- The GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Pontiac Daytona Prototype (DP) finished second this evening in round eight of the Grand-Am Rolex Sports...
GAINSCO Pontiac Finishes Second At Daytona
Stevenson Motorsports third in GT
Daytona, Fla., July 3, 2008 -- The GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Pontiac Daytona Prototype (DP) finished second this evening in round eight of the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 run at Daytona International Speedway. The Stevenson Motorsports Pontiac GXP.R of Robin Liddell and Andrew Davis finished third in GT.
Jon Fogarty started the No. 99 GAINSCO Pontiac DP car from the front row. Fogarty was able to take over the lead on lap 37. Soon after Fogarty pitted and turned the wheel over to Alex Gurney. Gurney took over the lead again after the pit stops cycled through. The Californian then lost the lead to the 01 on lap 50 and then retakes the head spot on lap 57. A late race yellow flew on lap 61. Grand-Am then took the race green again with one lap remaining. Coming out of the Bus Stop turn and up on NASCAR turn four, the 01 car pulled alongside the 99 and beat them to the checkered flag by .081-seconds to account for the closest finish in Grand-Am history.
"I could see that if I didn't have a certain gap he could close and go bye," Gurney said. "All of the restarts were different. The track was slick and the tires are not all the way in. I knew as soon as I turned on to the oval I didn't have the gap. It was an exciting race for everyone. From my seat it was very painful. A great finish, we just didn't have enough today."
The No. 76 Krohn Racing Pontiac Lola of Nic Jonsson and Ricardo Zonta equaled their best finish of the year by coming home in third. The duo had the green car upfront at the end of the race and were able to make a brief run at the lead on the last restart, but had to settle for the bottom step of the podium.
"The team did a great job today," Jonsson said. "The guys had to completely turn the car around since practice and qualifying. We had some small problems all day, but in the race it was a great car. We are happy to be on the podium. The last time was in Mexico City. We have a lot more to come with this new car. The team is putting everything together with the strategy and the handling of the car and we are looking forward to some more top finishes."
The No. 16 Cheever Racing Pontiac Coyote finished the race in 10th. Tom Kimber-Smith started the Coyote from 18th after a difficult day. Antonio Garcia was able to run in the top 10 and then finish the day in 10th.
"We had some high expectations for the day," Kimber-Smith said. "We were really fighting the setup all day. With the way the day was structured there wasn't really a chance to sit back and think about the changes to the car. What we thought was good, ended up being not good. After qualifying we went to the paddock and decided to put a setup on the car that we know works. So we ended up playing it safe for the race. I had a little drama early when the radio went out and then it came back on just in time for the crew to call me in for the mandatory 45-minute pit stop."
The team Krohn Racing Pontiac with Eric van de Poele and Tracy Krohn at the wheel finished the day in 14th. After day of practice and qualifying the team made some drastic changes for the race that paid off.
"This is an amazing turnaround today because it was so miserable earlier in the day for both cars," Krohn said. "We were both searching. We made some very, very last minute, I mean just before the race, changes on the No. 76 car that made a huge difference. I applaud (Krohn racing Team Manager) David Brown and our drivers. They did a really good job pulling it back together. Several laps they were actually the quickest car in the field. It was a huge turnaround. Getting on the podium here was very big for us. We really struggled the last couple of weeks, and particularly today, but they pulled it through and made it work."
Jim Matthews started the No. 91 Riley-Matthews Pontiac Riley from his 11th place qualifying position. Matthews was running strong in the top five when he had contact with the 76 car which forced a GT competitor into the path of the 91. The result was a busted radiator that took six laps to fix.
"I wasn't being too aggressive following the 76 into the corner," Matthews said. "He came down on me, got into the 07 GT car spun in front of me and that is where the damage happened. Before that we had contact on the restart and that is how it all got started. It was tough. I had a good run going."
The No. 10 Suntrust Pontiac Dallara of Michael Valiante and Max Angelelli had a day full of ups and downs. The team started from third place on the DP grid. Valiante managed to take over the lead of the race on lap 10. Sixteen laps later he had a right-rear tire go down as he went into turn one. He had to limp the Dallara all the way around the track back to the pits costing the team two laps. Later in the race Angelelli had to take evasive action in the Bus Stop to avoid a slower GT car, sending him into the tire barrier and ending the team's day early in 20th place.
"It happened in the 'Bus Stop,'" Angelelli said of the incident that put him out of the race. "A Porsche came down. I don't think it saw me. It came down, I was right there, and I spun. There were times the car was really, really good. It's just a shame what happened. Everything started to go bad with the tire puncture. But I was very excited about how good the car felt, so I wanted to have a strong finish. Michael qualified well and put the car in the lead, so we had a very strong day at the beginning. He said the car felt good, too. The car definitely is fast. It's just disappointing to not get the good result tonight."
In GT Liddell and Davis made a late race run to the front finishing in third. Liddell took over the car late in the race and as team's got caught out by caution flags, good pit work and strategy had the team at the front. In the waning laps, Liddell took over second place and was not able to hold the position on the final restart settling for third.
"I was very confident that we were slow on the banking," Liddell said. "Finishing third is a bonus for us. This is not our strongest circuit. The car is heavy and make a big hole in the air. Coming third is great for us. For Pontiac we are battling for the championship. We finished ahead of the 07 car again and that is good for the points. We are coming up to some better tracks for our car and hope to keep having top finishes."
The No. 07 Banner Racing Pontiac GXP.R of Paul Edwards and Kelly Collins also had strategy on their side to finish the day in fourth. Collins started the car and was involved in the incident with the 91 and 76 on lap 11, but the contact did no real damage to the Pontiac. Collins turned the car over to Edwards on lap 41 and on the restart Edwards was hit from behind. He had to pit twice for repairs, but the team had him back out without losing a lap.
"In practice we had a strong 10th place car," Edwards said. "On that restart I got hit in turn three after avoiding a spinning car. I had to pit twice for repairs and that sent us to the back of the longest line, but still on the lead lap. After the banging and hits we took tonight, fourth place is definitely a gift. We will take it and go to Barber."
The No. 72 Autohaus Motorsports team also had to preserver to their sixth place finish. Tim Lewis Jr. started the GXP.R and experienced a vibration early. The Floridian pitted and the team changed tires and sent him back out a lap down. Terry Borcheller took over the Pontiac and managed to keep it out of trouble for the sixth place finish.
"At the start of the race I got caught up in traffic," Lewis said. "Soon after I had a bad vibration coming through the tri-oval which was scary. I was sideways into turn one again through the kink. I naturally thought it was a tire going down. The team did a good job today to maximize our finishing position. Terry did excellent work behind the wheel to finish the day strong."
The Grand-Am competitors will have one weekend off before returning to action at Barber Motorport Park on July 20.
-credit: gm racing