ALEX GURNEY MAKES FINAL-HOUR CHARGE FROM 10TH TO SIXTH AFTER TEAM CONTENDS EARLY LEXINGTON, Ohio (June 19, 2010) -- A flawless first-hour strategy that saw GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing make four key pit stops in just under the first 60...
ALEX GURNEY MAKES FINAL-HOUR CHARGE FROM 10TH TO SIXTH AFTER TEAM CONTENDS EARLY
LEXINGTON, Ohio (June 19, 2010) -- A flawless first-hour strategy that saw GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing make four key pit stops in just under the first 60 minutes of the EMCO Gears Classic came up short after a miscue during the team's fifth and final stop of the race ultimately resulted in another sixth-place finish for the No. 99 team and drivers Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty Saturday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
The No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Chevrolet Riley started the 2-3/4-hour timed race in fourth place and Fogarty quickly ducked into the pits before the completion of the first race lap to satisfy GRAND-AM's first-45-minute pit rule. That strategy move set the stage for three more perfectly timed pit stops during caution periods, including a driver change that put Gurney behind the wheel, and the No. 99 "Red Dragon" was in second place and perfectly positioned to make a run in the final half of the race to GAINSCO's first victory of the 2010 season.
"We went off strategy on the opening lap and we played it right up until our final stop," Fogarty said. "We were positioned to come out with the lead there, but we did have a bobble in the pit stop. We have one injured guy and a fresh replacement - it is what it is and I am sure he feels horrible - so that put us back. That kind of stuff puts you back in the muck in the thick of the race and stuff happens back there, and it did."
After coming into pits in second, Gurney returned to the race after the final stop in 10th and was right in the middle of a full pack of Daytona Prototype and GT competitors, both on the lead lap and several laps down.
"The strategy was really good when I got in the car," Gurney said. "The car was fast but we just really never got to show it. The car felt real fast once the tires came in but on the next pit stop we just had a little hiccup in the pits. On the next restart, I was trying to make up some positions and there was an opening when Antonio Garcia got held up by two GT cars. I went to the outside and was well clear of Garcia and I thought the GT saw me, but he didn't and turned down and we hit. I was still fine at that point and then Garcia came over and slammed into the side of me. That ripped off the rear spoiler and we were really in trouble for the rest of the race. I was just hanging on, especially through Turn 1. It's too bad because we were still doing laps in the (one minute) 19s without a spoiler and I thought we really had a car to win the race."
Gurney staged yet another late-race charge and improved four positions in the final hour for GAINSCO's third-straight sixth-place finish. Gurney also had part of the rear spoiler ripped off in the Memorial Day Weekend Classic at Lime Rock Park and rebounded to finish sixth. He also joined Fogarty and Jimmie Johnson for a sixth-place showing two weeks ago in the Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen. On the season, GAINSCO's best finishes have been a fifth-place in the Bosch Engineering 250 at Virginia International Raceway and third in the Grand Prix of Miami.
"We have a better car than the results are showing, but you we really need to be out front and kind of alone to really show what our car is capable of," Fogarty said. "When you are back there it is really hard for us to go forward. It's a tough situation. We did everything right in order to be up there and running clean but it just didn't work out for us."
Next up for GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing is the Brumos Porsche 250 At Daytona which can be seen live on SPEED at 11 a.m. ET/8 a.m. PT on Saturday, July 3.