GAINSCO/Blackhawk Racing Ring in the New Year Quick at Daytona Dallas, Texas - GAINSCO/Blackhawk Racing made their 2006 debut last week as they participated in the Rolex Grand American Series test days for the upcoming 24 Hours at Daytona.
GAINSCO/Blackhawk Racing Ring in the New Year Quick at Daytona
Dallas, Texas - GAINSCO/Blackhawk Racing made their 2006 debut last week as they participated in the Rolex Grand American Series test days for the upcoming 24 Hours at Daytona. Their "All-American, All-Star" line-up includes second generation drivers Alex Gurney and Rocky Moran Jr. along with 1996 Champ Car Champion Jimmy Vasser and 2004 SCCA National Atlantic Champion Bob Stallings.
Full-time driver Alex Gurney opened the test for the Blackhawk squad and set the fastest time of the day Thursday with a lap of 1:45.265. Gurney commented on the test, "this is a great way to open the test. The field is incredibly deep in terms of talent, you've got current and former champions from the top levels of Motorsports out there. We rolled the car off quick and continued to improve it, I am psyched for this race, it will be an endurance test for the drivers, the teams and the fans!"
Jimmy Vasser turned his first laps in the #99 GAINSCO/Pontiac/Riley on Friday morning. He wasted no time familiarizing himself with the Grand American machine, he was on pace within six laps. "The #99 GAINSCO/Pontiac/Riley was a blast to drive. Alex and the Blackhawk crew did a great job opening the test as the fastest car on track Thursday," said Vasser. "I jumped in on Friday morning and I was comfortable right away. I am very pleased with the progress we made in the test. The team did a great job preparing, we have a bit of work to do before the big event, but we ran up front during the test days and I think that is a good indication of where we will be when we return at the end of the month."
After completing a full tank run late Friday morning, team owner Bob Stallings shared the car with Rocky Moran Jr. during the afternoon, giving the California native his first opportunity to drive the 500 hp Pontiac/Riley. Working through the teams' test plan Moran was impressively third quick on the timing and scoring sheets when he ran into trouble on his 15th lap, "I was approaching turn one at around 180 mph, it is the fastest part of the track. I have rather large feet and I fumbled trying to get to the brake, my toe got hooked up on the chassis, so my foot was hooked to the accelerator and the brake at the same time. At that point I had 80% acceleration and I was trying to brake for the corner. I couldn't brake through downshifting because of the accelerator, so I went in deep and turned the car to keep from going straight in. I hit the left-rear corner first and then sort of slapped it sideways at about 80 mph, it was a painful impact, and I got a big case of whiplash." Moran Jr. strained his neck in the incident and was taken to Halifax Memorial for treatment. He was released Friday evening and has been cleared to drive, "I am recovering quickly and doing physical therapy to make sure I am 100% for the race. The cars are a lot of fun to drive. I was expecting a heavy lethargic racecar and I was very pleasantly surprised by how responsive, nimble, fast and stable the #99 car is. I was able to get to a competitive pace quickly and I am confident we have a great opportunity to bring home a good result for GAINSCO Auto Insurance," commented Moran Jr.
Due to the extent of the damage to the car, the Blackhawk team could not participate in the third day and final day of the series test on Saturday, but were pleased with their progress despite the circumstances. Bob Stallings commented on the teams' potential for success at the upcoming endurance race, "We were obviously disappointed that we were unable to complete the entire test. That being said, I think we maximized the time we were on track. I am really pleased with the way the team has come together, and with how quickly our new drivers acclimated to the car and to the team. I was blown away by Vasser, he was fast immediately despite never having driven the car, but he is a champion and I guess that's what 13 years of driving a Champ Car will do for you. Rocky (Moran Jr.) was very solid as Alex (Gurney) said he would be. He also was quick right away, unfortunately he had some trouble with the brake peddle in turn one and turned himself around hard into the tire barrier. Most importantly he is ok. Alex was at the top of his game as usual. I felt very comfortable back in the car and logged a few miles in the dark, which was important. Preparing for a 24 hour endurance race is a huge endeavor. I think we are well prepared and I am really looking forward to it."
The GAINSCO/Blackhawk team has returned to their new headquarters in Dallas, Texas, where they are preparing for another two day test before the big event, the 2006 season opener, the 24 Hours at Daytona International Raceway, January 26-29, 2005. Catch the action live on SPEED or follow the GAINSCO/Blackhawk team at www.GAINSCO.com.