Fresh off its maiden victory, GAINSCO team looks to Miami for more success HOMESTEAD, Fla. (March 22, 2007) -- The GAINSCO Auto Insurance team rolls into Homestead/Miami Speedway today on an emotional high, after Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty ...
Fresh off its maiden victory, GAINSCO team looks to Miami for more success
HOMESTEAD, Fla. (March 22, 2007) -- The GAINSCO Auto Insurance team rolls into Homestead/Miami Speedway today on an emotional high, after Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty combined to score the team's first-ever Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series win less than three weeks ago at Mexico City. But the team knows that a tough race is ahead for the drivers and crew of the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Pontiac-powered Riley -- Saturday afternoon's 109-lap, 250-mile Linder Industrial Grand Prix of Miami.
The race, Round Three of the 2007 Rolex Sports Car Series, poses an entirely different challenge for Gurney and Fogarty -- the tight confines of the 2.3-mile speedway road course allow little margin for error, and up on the high banks, horsepower is everything. Last year, the speedy Porsche-powered prototypes quickly drew away from the Pontiac-powered 99 -- but after a successful test at the course earlier in December, both drivers are confident they'll have the speed to run up front this weekend.
"I'm pumped about Miami, because we've got a chance to really go out and race hard and fight for another win for the GAINSCO team," Gurney said. "The track is quite tough to drive, especially if the heat becomes a factor, and traffic can really eat you up so you have to be on your toes all the time."
Gurney knows that first-hand, as slower cars twice played a key role in his epic, edge-of-your-seat duel with Max Papis at Mexico City, first allowing the second-generation driver to take the lead and then forcing him almost off-course and out of the top spot -- which he regained just a couple laps later when Papis slid off-course.
This weekend marks Fogarty's first visit to the Homestead circuit behind the wheel of a Daytona Prototype, but he's driven versions of the circuit before in Barber Dodge Pro Series competition.
"We've got a lot of strong competition but we've also got confidence," the 2002 and 2004 Toyota Atlantic champion said. "I'm going to look to put together a solid qualifying run so we start up front and hopefully avoid any problems that might happen back in the pack. It's pretty tight quarters here in several spots, so you really have to be driving heads-up all the time."
Gurney and Fogarty know that what's most important this season is the points chase. The duo enters this weekend in a tie for sixth in the drivers' points standings, just 19 points behind the leader, Scott Pruett. While a second consecutive victory would be sweet for the GAINSCO team, a solid podium or top-5 performance would set the team on course for a consistent, championship-contending season, team owner Bob Stallings said.
"What I've tried to emphasize to Alex and Jon is that we've got that first one out of the way, it's in the bag," Stallings said. "Now that we've got that monkey off our back, we need to focus on winning a championship, because that's what this team is here to do. We don't have to win every race, but we do need to finish every race."
Florida is an important market for GAINSCO and dozens of agents, employees and guests of the automobile insurer will be on hand to cheer the No. 99 GAINSCO Pontiac on in its quest for a second-straight Rolex Series victory. Practice for the Daytona Prototypes begins at 2 p.m. today, with qualifying set for 2:55 p.m. Friday, followed by a final practice session on Saturday morning. The Linder Industrial/Komatsu Grand Prix of Miami gets the green flag at 2 p.m. on Saturday, and is subject to a two-hour, 30-minute time limit.