At long last - Gurney, Fogarty seize GAINSCO team's first-ever victory in Mexico City thriller MEXICO CITY (March 3, 2007) -- After 23 races and nearly two years of trying for GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing, the emotions and champagne flowed in ...
At long last - Gurney, Fogarty seize GAINSCO team's first-ever victory in Mexico City thriller
MEXICO CITY (March 3, 2007) -- After 23 races and nearly two years of trying for GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing, the emotions and champagne flowed in Victory Lane for the Mexico City 400k, as Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty combined to score their first-ever Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series win -- and the first-ever win for the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Pontiac-powered Riley.
In one of the most thrilling finishes in Grand-Am history, Gurney and Krohn Racing driver Max Papis swapped the lead twice in the waning circuits of the historic Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez. After taking over from Fogarty in the team's Lap 60 pit stop, Gurney had consistently reeled Papis in, closing up a gap that was at one point over 17 seconds. With just two laps to go, Gurney's pressure forced Papis into a tiny mistake in Turn 5. Papis spun off-course, leaving Gurney six seconds ahead. The second-generation driver never looked back, taking the checkered flag by 7.359 seconds, after 100 caution-free laps and 250 miles.
"It feels so good to finally get a win for the GAINSCO team. What a wild race there at the end," Gurney said. "After I got by Max the first time, I thought I was going to pull away, but when he got back by me after I caught a GT car in the wrong place, it was like a dagger in my heart. But I didn't give up and I kept the pressure on, and unfortunately for him but lucky for us, he had his problems. The GAINSCO team and our engineer, Kyle Brannan, gave me a great car that could run right at the front. Jon did exactly what he had to do by keeping the car in one piece and saving fuel, which let me fight for the win."
After putting the GAINSCO Pontiac on the outside pole in his first-ever race at Mexico City, Fogarty's stint was a flawless, clean effort that smartly saved fuel and tires for Gurney's late-race charge. His drive enabled the team to stop five laps after the then-leading Krohn Racing car, giving Alex fresher tires for the final laps. Then he joined Brannan, team owner Bob Stallings and the rest of the GAINSCO Boys in the pit box to watch the race unfold.
"We got the first one out of the way, now we can go get some more," Fogarty said. "After qualifying we made a couple changes that helped the car, but we realized at the start that we wouldn't be quite as fast as the 75 Krohn car. So we switched to a fuel-conservation strategy and I just tried to keep in contact with Colin (Braun, driver of the 75) and also keep our car in one piece for Alex's stint."
The team's emotional maiden victory in Mexico was even more appropriate because the 99 was wearing a special paint job this weekend -- green and white stripes complemented the red bodywork, and the usual GAINSCO Auto Insurance logos were in Spanish. The "Seguros de Autos" scheme represents the auto insurance company's large Hispanic customer base, a key market segment for the fast-growing carrier. Team owner Bob Stallings said his first win as a Grand-Am team owner couldn't have come at a better place.
"I got very emotional when Alex crossed the finish line," Stallings said. "In the last 12 laps, I thought I was going to have a heart attack, twice. This was one of the best Grand-Am races ever, and it's just poetic that we got it done here. GAINSCO's been a great sponsor for us, sticking with us through all the ups and downs, and it's gratifying to be able to get them a victory in a place that really connects with the company's marketing efforts."
Now that the victory monkey is off the GAINSCO team's back, Stallings said the next step is clear: fight for -- and win -- the 2007 Rolex Sports Car Series Daytona Prototype title. It's a difficult task in a demanding series, but for Stallings, today's race was proof that competing in the Rolex Series is the right choice for his team.
"There is no question that the finest road racing in the world is in this series, and that's why we're here. This race was a prime example of that," Stallings said. "It's so incredibly difficult to win here because there's so many great drivers and great teams all fighting at the front -- so it's very special to say that we're Rolex Series winners. I'm extremely proud of Alex, Jon, Kyle and everyone on the team who's worked so hard to get us here. Now our goal is to win a championship, and we know we can do it."
With that first victory finally in the bag, Gurney, Fogarty, Stallings and the rest of the team are eagerly awaiting the next Rolex Sports Car Series race, held at Homestead/Miami Speedway in Florida on March 24, in conjunction with the Indy Racing League.