GAINSCO Pontiac Wins Mid-Ohio Stevenson Pontiac GXP.R second in GT Lexington, Ohio, June 21, 2008 -- The GAINSCO Pontiac team logged their first win of the season today in round seven of the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown ...
GAINSCO Pontiac Wins Mid-Ohio
Stevenson Pontiac GXP.R second in GT
Lexington, Ohio, June 21, 2008 -- The GAINSCO Pontiac team logged their first win of the season today in round seven of the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. The Stevenson Motorsports Pontiac GXP.R finished second in GT.
The race started under threatening skies. The Daytona Prototype (DP) and GT competitors started the race in the dry then on lap seven the sky opened up. In what became a rain soaked race with eight cautions allowing only 39 green laps of running.
The No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing team defended their win from last year at the track located just north of Columbus. Jon Fogarty and Alex Gurney got back to their winning ways in a renewed quest to defend their 2007 championship season.
"It was a wild race," Gurney said. "I was thinking there was going to be a red flag. Then I thought there would be a yellow all day. We got the driver change done early. I focused on not putting it off the road and picking guys off. We had a good strategy. It was fun and satisfying. The expectation to win has been high. We have had top finishes, but it is nice to win one. The seven car I think was struggling with his tires toward the end. I could see him hang it out as it got drier. Our car was working really well in the in-between conditions."
The combination of Nic Jonsson and Ricardo Zonta came home ninth in their No. 76 Krohn Racing Lola. The duo were able run upfront in the wet until drying conditions caught up with them toward the end of the race.
"The race for us was when Nic was out there," Zonta said. "The car in the wet really has a lot of potential. In the dry I had massive oversteer which just got worse as the conditions wet to dry. When Nic was out there at the beginning he was able to pretty much drive the car anywhere on the track."
The No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac with Max Angelelli and Michael Valiante finished the day in 10th. Valiante was able to lead laps early and was a constant fixture at the front. Angelelli had a good stint until the drying conditions took the best out of his tires.
"Obviously, I think everybody could see that my tires were finished," Angelelli said. "I had no more tires left and I did what I could with what I had. I have no idea why they went away so quickly. It's not the first time it has happened, so we have to keep looking at why this might be and think about what to do to fix the problem. Unfortunately, I could tell the tires were going to go away. I know the car. I know those tires. But that's what happens, sometimes. Tenth place doesn't feel good at all when you are 10 minutes away from finishing on the podium. It was a disappointing way to end the weekend."
The No. 91 Riley-Matthews of Marc Goossens and Jim Matthews finished 11th. Matthews got the silver 91 stuck in the gravel when the rain came. The extrication cost the team two laps. Goossens was able to put in a good drive to get one of the laps back, but still finished a lap down.
"It is hard to get two laps back," Goossens said. "There were just too many yellows to make up the two laps. I was able to get one back, but that was not enough. We had a good car in the wet. I was running up ahead of the leaders and even passed them. But when you are a lap down you have to be aggressive and careful and not get in the way of the leaders too much."
The No. 75 Krohn Pontiac tandem of Tracy Krohn and Eric van de Poele finished the wet race in 14th. Van de Poele was able to run upfront early with teammate Jonsson giving the new Lola a good first race on the Mid-Ohio circuit. Tracy Krohn fell afoul of the Grand-Am officials when a pit stop call cost them time early on.
"This was one of those hard races," Krohn said. "It was a disappointing call by the officials on our pit stop. When we committed to come in the pits were open and then they closed them when it was too late. They penalized us, costing the team some good track position. I then went out and tried to push too hard and ended up spinning into the gravel."
In GT Robin Liddell and Andrew Davis finished second. After starting the weekend with setup difficulties the team qualified third and finished the race in second. Liddell was able to lead some laps late in the race.
"I had a great battle at the end with the 86 car," Liddell said. "We were leading up until that last restart. The 01 cost me some time and that allowed the 86 to close up. Were too close to winning, so second is a little disappointing. The car ran well and the Stevenson guys really worked hard this weekend on the setup. We ended up in front when it counted and it was a good points day for us. The tires performed well in the wet and we were able to get some rain time on the car."
The Connolly Motorsports team with Ryan Phinny and Diego Alessi took the last step of the podium with their Pontiac GTO.R finishing in third. Phinny was able to lead a large amount of the race and put on an impressive driving display in the rain.
"I really didn't know where I was at in the rain," Phinny said. "Matt Connolly wouldn't tell me where I was running and finally said that we were in the lead. I was just focusing on trying to see out of the windshield. We were strong all day. Diego was able to makeup five positions after the driver change to get us to the podium. We took a huge gamble on the setup and it paid off."
Lawson Aschenbach, Tim Lewis Jr. and Terry Borcheller combined to give the No. 72 Autohaus Pontiac team an eighth place finish. The team started the race from pole position and soldiered through the weather finish in the top 10.
"I got in after Lawson and had a tough stint," Lewis said. "The wiper failed in the rain and that made it really difficult to see. That is something that really makes the treacherous racing in the rain that much worse. I think the elements got the best of us today. We just couldn't convert the pole position into a top finish."
The No. 07 Banner Racing team of Kelly Collins and Paul Edwards finished 11th. The early part of the race had the 07 running in fourth. When the rain came the timing transponder on the car became inoperable. The officials forced the team to pit twice for repairs sending them down two laps.
"We just went roundie-round and took the checker without hitting anybody or going off the track," Edwards said. "It was one of those days, but it could have been a lot worse. The 70 car had a tough race too and we did gain points on both the 67 and 87 cars because they crashed. We lost some ground to the No. 57 Pontiac team of Liddell and Davis, but they finished second for Pontiac so we are happy about that. It is a shame we couldn't have a better run for all of the Banner Engineering people here today, but that happens sometimes. We just got caught out by a Grand-Am part when the transponder failed and we lost laps when we had to come in and change it."
The No. 06 Banner Racing GXP.R was a victim of the rain and an errant competitor. Marc Bunting started the race and was able to pass a few cars early in the running. When the rain came he went into caution mode and then was hit by the 67 car causing damage that put them out of the race on lap eight.
"We went down into turn seven at the end of the straight and there were cars all over the place spinning off the track." Bunting said. "I got it slowed down enough to avoid the spinning cars but the 67 car couldn't get slowed and t-boned me. He was really moving because he hit me really hard! Standing water and slicks aren't a good combination."
-credit: gm racing