Gurney, Fogarty and GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Rally for Fourth-Place Finish in Grand-Am Rolex Series Mexico City 250 TEAM STILL IN THE THICK OF THE CHAMPIONSHIP CHASE WITH BEST FINISH SINCE ROLEX 24 OPENER MEXICO CITY, Mexico (April 19...
Gurney, Fogarty and GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Rally for Fourth-Place Finish in Grand-Am Rolex Series Mexico City 250
TEAM STILL IN THE THICK OF THE CHAMPIONSHIP CHASE WITH BEST FINISH SINCE ROLEX 24 OPENER
MEXICO CITY, Mexico (April 19 2008) -- Overcoming a costly pit miscue, the GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing team and drivers Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty turned in a champion's performance to finish fourth in Saturday's Mexico City 250 at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez. The result was the team's best showing since placing second at the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona, and with no finish lower than sixth in the year's first three races, the reigning Rolex Series Team and Driver Champions remain in the thick of the 2008 title chases.
Charging back to lead the race after an early pit stop and side-by-side skirmish along the front straight with Memo Rojas in the No. 01 TELMEX/Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley on lap 34, Fogarty was in front of the field when the second of the race's three yellow-flags was flown on Lap 38. Fogarty was quickly called into the pits but drove through without stopping when the team realized that Grand-Am rules call for the pits to be closed at the onset of all full-course cautions.
"I think we were just trying to race the yellow," said Gurney, who took the wheel of the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Pontiac Riley when Fogarty pitted a few laps later and returned to the race in 10th place. "We recovered from that and lost some positions, which are a pretty hard to get back here, but the car was very good and hung in there on old tires, it seemed, better than the other guys."
Gurney moved up two spots early in his stint when the No. 7 Rum Bum BMW Riley of Matt Plumb came together with the No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Dallara of Max Angelelli to bring out the final caution period of the day. On the restart, Gurney then began to reel in the several race cars and improved four positions between Laps 55 and Lap 68, moving from eighth to fourth.
"I really got very few breaks in traffic and it seemed like I was following a GT car through the esses almost every lap," Gurney said. I think if I was able to run free, I was a little quicker than the three guys in front of me, but it didn't happen. We are encouraged by the speed of the car and it was a fun race, but I just got no breaks in traffic at all."
Gurney closed on the top-three leaders several times late in the race but secured some valuable championship points by settling for the fourth-place finish.
"I was also being careful in traffic because we have to finish these races," Gurney said. "There were a lot of guys taking chances, and I was being careful in traffic, and in the end we had a good position, so I am happy."
Fogarty also had his own impressive charge through the field after the strategic opening-lap pit stop dropped him to 18th and last in the Daytona Prototype field. He cracked the Top 10 by lap 12 and was running seventh when the first caution of the day flew on Lap 20 and the majority of the rest of the field pitted. Fogarty charged to second on the restart and overcame the contact with Rojas to lead the race just before the pit-entry error.
"The big problem is that we pitted when we shouldn't have," said Fogarty, who also had a close encounter with Rojas for the second-straight race when. "The GAINSCO car was good, good enough to work our strategy the way we wanted to and get by the No. 01. We had a battle there, and that is not what I expect out of Memo, but I guess in his home country and in front of all of his fans, he gets pretty desperate."
The No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing team is now third in the Rolex Series Team and Driver Championships with 85 points. They trail today's Mexico City 250 winners Jim Matthews and Marc Goossens by one point and are 17 points behind championship leaders Rojas and Scott Pruett who finished second today.