REIGNING ROLEX SERIES CHAMPS HOLD SECOND IN 2008 POINTS TO CONTINUE BEST SEASON START Fogarty And Gurney Finish Sixth For GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing In The Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series GAINSCO Grand Prix of Miami MIAMI (March 29,...
REIGNING ROLEX SERIES CHAMPS HOLD SECOND IN 2008 POINTS TO CONTINUE BEST SEASON START
Fogarty And Gurney Finish Sixth For GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing In The Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series GAINSCO Grand Prix of Miami
MIAMI (March 29, 2008) -- A Homestead-Miami Speedway circuit that has always been a challenge for GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing ran true to form Saturday where the reigning Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Champions and drivers Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty rallied for a sixth-place finish in the GAINSCO Grand Prix of Miami despite their fair share of setbacks and even a bizarre mishap.
The sixth-place showing kept the GAINSCO team and drivers in the thick of the 2008 championship hunt and they are in the midst of their best start in three full seasons of Rolex Series competition. The team and drivers also finished second in the season-opening Rolex 24 and remain second in the Rolex Series championship with 57 points, just 13 points behind the No. 01 TELMEX/Chip Ganassi Racing team, which won its second consecutive race Saturday. GAINSCO's starting driver Jon Fogarty also led the GAINSCO Grand Prix of Miami but circumstances kept Gurney from breaking into the top five for more than a couple of laps after taking the wheel at the mid-race mark.
"Jon had a real good run and it was just a shame we couldn't capitalize on it," Gurney said. "I struggled with a gearbox issue and it kept cutting out, which in turn cost us a few positions. We kept it together, though, and still look good in the championship, so we will take it. This is a championship team and we still managed to finish sixth and not give up too much ground in the points. We are looking at the big picture and it will be real good to get back to Mexico where we took our first win last year."
Gurney also lost time when a race official momentarily blocked his path when he was leaving the pits after a final fuel stop. Gurney lifted and slowed to avoid hitting the official and still appeared to beat the No. 01 Ganassi race car out of the pits before Grand-Am ruled that the eventual race winners were the first out.
"It was a slippery circuit today but we were still doing real well and ran up front and led," Fogarty said. "Unfortunately, a pit official had a bit of a death wish and blocked us on the last splash and go pit stop. Both the No. 01 and the No. 60 (Michael Shank Racing Ford Riley) beat us out and it was a struggle from there."
Fogarty, who started fifth in the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Pontiac Riley, passed both the No. 01 and the No. 61 AIM Autosport Ford Riley a few turns after the race start and completed lap one of the race in third place. Fogarty would later lead three laps (42 -- 44) of the 99 lap race but also had his own brush with near disaster. Memo Rojas in the No. 01 was re-passing him heading on to the front straight in the early going and moved up and slightly brushed Fogarty as he completed the pass. Fogarty continued at speed but the No. 99's left front fender was cracked and a tire change during the first pit stop a few laps later revealed the left front wheel was scraped and had its balance weights ripped off.
"He definitely hit me," Fogarty said. "I don't know what he was thinking because he had a hell of a run on me and was clearly going to get by."
Saturday's sixth-place showing matched the team's previous best result at Homestead-Miami in 2006 when Gurney co-drove with Jimmy Vasser. Both Vasser and Cristiano da Matta spent time in the GAINSCO/Bob Stallings pits on Saturday during the race, one day after the duo was named to drive a second GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Pontiac Riley at the upcoming Rolex Series race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, May 17.
Next up for the GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing is Round 3 of the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City, Mexico, April 19. The Mexico race was the site of the team's first series win last year and proved to be the springboard to the championship with six more victories in the 2007 season and dual Team and Driver Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Championships.