GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing fastest in final practice for this weekend's 49th Annual Rolex 24 At Daytona
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (January 28, 2011) -- GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing, and drivers Alex Gurney, Jon Fogarty and Jimmie Johnson, topped final practice Friday for this weekend's Rolex 24 At Daytona, and were second fastest in the morning session as well, to cap a full day of final preparations for the 49th annual running of America's premier endurance race.
"We ended up well and we've been pretty much running the 24-hour setup through testing and qualifying," said Fogarty, who was at the wheel of the No. 99 for the final fast lap. "Alex wasn't able to do much of a speed run during qualifying, so it wasn't representative of what the car is ultimately capable of. I think that now that we are closer to the race, we'll start to see a lot more teams put their racing packages on their car, and that has evened out the field. I hope that's the case at least, because that means good things for us. We all drove in the session and now we are just going to practice some driver changes and get ready for the race."
Fogarty lapped the 3.560-mile DIS road course in 1:40.878 (127.045 mph), a time comparable to Gurney's qualifying lap of 1:40.828 (127.108 mph) set on Thursday. Although GAINSCO will start 10th, the fact that the top practice and qualifying laps are nearly identical proves the team has indeed focused on race setup this month at Daytona. Yesterday's axle woes are hopefully a thing of the past too after GAINSCO worked hard to solve the problem the past 24 hours.
"We hope so, and haven't seen any axle issues since yesterday," Gurney said. "We have e been making little gains along the way with the car, and we are very happy. We've got a really good race car for sure. Now for tonight we will just rest, prepare and eat a lot of pasta."
Gurney will start tomorrow's race, hand off to Johnson and Fogarty will be third in the rotation.
The fifth-row starting berth doesn't mean much in a 24-hour race. GAINSCO qualified 11th in the 2008 Rolex 24 and went on to finish second in the first race together for the trio of Gurney, Fogarty and Johnson, who were also joined by Jimmy Vasser, for the team-best result. Gurney and his teammates are hoping for a similar strong performance Saturday and Sunday.
"I love the grind of it all, especially if you're in the hunt late in the race," Gurney said. "As a team at that point, you feel like you've all gone into battle together and seeing the end in sight gives everyone a charge that you just might pull off a victory!"
Saturday also marks the race debut of Continental as the new official tire of the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series.
"From the test earlier this month it seems as though this is a great tire for Daytona," Fogarty said. "No issues. Continental is very committed to putting out a good race tire and has been working hard all off season, and it has paid off."