GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing, Gurney and Fogarty carry Rolex Series Championship momentum to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca; Just Four Points Out of Championship Lead, Gainsco Heads to Verizon Festival Of Speed MONTEREY, Calif. (May 12, 2009) -- ...
GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing, Gurney and Fogarty carry Rolex Series Championship momentum to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca; Just Four Points Out of Championship Lead, Gainsco Heads to Verizon Festival Of Speed
MONTEREY, Calif. (May 12, 2009) -- GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing and drivers Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty head to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca Raceway for this weekend's Verizon Wireless Festival of Speed presented by SPEEDCOM Communications in solid championship contention for the 2009 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16.
GAINSCO, Gurney and Fogarty -- the 2007 Grand-Am Rolex Series Champions and 2008 runner-ups -- come to a track that the drivers call home and where they have done just about everything but score a victory. This will be GAINSCO's fifth consecutive appearance at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca since the team made its Rolex Series debut here in 2005 and they have never been in a better championship position heading to Monterey. After the year's first three races, the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance team and Gurney and Fogarty are second in the Rolex Series Team and Driver Championship standings behind the leading No. 58 Brumos Porsche Riley of David Donohue and Darren Law. GAINSCO now has 84 points in both championships, just four points behind the Brumos team and drivers.
"Laguna is one of the best tracks on the schedule and the closest thing to a home track for me," said Gurney, who is from Irvine, California. "I've always loved going there and having lots of friends and family in attendance. When you drive into the track over the Turn 6 bridge, there's nothing quite like it. It is such a beautiful race track. It was also where GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing made its debut in Grand-Am as a team and we look back on that as a very special weekend. I think we made a statement immediately with how competitive we were and it's set the tone, in a way, for our future expectations."
GAINSCO has never contested a Rolex Series event without Gurney at the wheel but his teammate for the debut race and the first partial season in 2005 was then-driver/owner Bob Stallings. By the time the 2006 Laguna Seca race came around, Stallings had stepped out of the race car and fully into his team owner role, hiring Fogarty to take his place. The potent new pairing of Gurney and Fogarty had its breakout race in just their second start together at Laguna Seca.
"We nearly won in 2006, finishing second just behind Max Angelelli, and we've always been knocking on the door of a win," Gurney said. "Our entire team has a lot of experience with the track and so we feel we have a good idea of how to set up the car. We want very much to come out of this race with the points lead."
GAINSCO's solid 2009 start has been highlighted by a victory in Round 2 in the Bosch Engineering 250 at Virginia International Raceway (VIR). The No. 99 GAINSCO team and guest co-drivers Jimmie Johnson and Jimmy Vasser also finished seventh in the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona, and Gurney and Fogarty persevered to a sixth-place finish one race ago in a rain-soaked Verizon Wireless 250 in New Jersey. The team hopes to continue the strong opening rally this weekend at Laguna Seca where they have seen consistent success but not a victory. Gurney was fastest in GAINSCO's first-ever Friday practice session at Laguna in 2005, and he and Stallings co-drove to a strong sixth-place finish in their debut race. One year following 2006's second-place finish, Fogarty won the pole and joined Gurney in finishing sixth. Last year GAINSCO started second and finished fourth.
"I don't think our results are indicative of our abilities at the track," said Fogarty, a native of nearby Palo Alto, California. "We have had some issues come race time but despite that it is still a favorite track of ours. A lot like VIR in that respect and hopefully we can get that win like we did in Virginia and put Laguna at the top of our favorites list. You always like the tracks you win at. We feel we have what it takes to get around the track in a competitive manner, but unfortunately much of the competition is right there as well. All of the chassis seem to be capable at this point and the engine battle is raging as well. We will have our work cut out for us, but the GAINSCO team never shies away from hard work."
While Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is best known for its famous Corkscrew Turn, some of Fogarty's favorite parts of the course might be a surprise. "I like Turns 4, 5 and 6, all fast and fun," he said. "Not necessarily the most important corners on the track but great to drive. Turn 2 is the best place to pass. You will see a lot of positions swapped going in and out of there."
-- Among the team's VIP guests this weekend will be Shawn and Kimberly Stole, of Gilbert, Ariz., the recent winning bidders of a unique racing-themed package donated by Bob and Linda Stallings in support of a fundraising event to benefit the Crisis Pregnancy Center in Phoenix. The donated package includes sponsorship space on the rear wing of the actual No. 99 GAINSCO Daytona Prototype race car at this weekend's Verizon Festival of Speed. The Stoles plan to use the opportunity to promote their business, SHAWN STOLE CONSTRUCTION, INC., which specializes in creative custom woodworking. The Stoles will also be treated to a VIP at-track experience that includes suite and hot-pit passes and an official pace car ride around the legendary circuit on Sunday morning-- A win this weekend would add to Fogarty's racing memories at Laguna Seca that date back nearly 15 years. "My first race at Laguna was in 1995 in Formula Vee," Fogarty recalls. "I am not sure where I finished but I know I didn't win. I won most of my races that year but Laguna escaped me. I did win the 2004 Atlantic title at Laguna so that made up for the Formula Vee loss."
-- GAINSCO Auto Insurance will entertain a large group of Southwestern region agent partners and employees this weekend, its first sponsor entertainment event since the season opening Rolex 24 At Daytona. "It will be good to have GAINSCO guests out to see us perform," Fogarty said. "It's always good to have a little extra pressure and motivation to show what the team is capable of doing. The support we receive is excellent and appreciated, and it is really like our race team grows when we have the agents and employees around. Almost every one of them wants to win just as bad as the full-time team members. The passion is there and we can feel it."