GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing, Gurney and Fogarty ready to continue Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Championship pursuit at Saturday^Ã’s Montreal 200 RACE WIN LEADERS SECOND IN CHAMPIONSHIP CHASE AS SERIES...
GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing, Gurney and Fogarty ready to continue Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Championship pursuit at Saturday^Òs Montreal 200
RACE WIN LEADERS SECOND IN CHAMPIONSHIP CHASE AS SERIES READIES FOR ONLY INTERNATIONAL RACE
MONTREAL, Quebec, Canada (August 26, 2009) -- GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing's pursuit of the 2009 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Championships brings the team, and drivers Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty, North of the Border this weekend, Aug. 28-29, for the Montreal 200 at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. The two-hour sprint on Montreal's 2.708-mile Grand Prix Formula 1 circuit, the only international race on this year's schedule, kicks off a critical three-race stretch run to the season championship.
GAINSCO has won a series-leading three races in 2009 and comes to Montreal just four points out of first place in the Grand-Am Rolex Series Daytona Prototype Team and Driver Championship standings. GAINSCO, Gurney and Fogarty currently have 244 points at second place in the standings behind leaders Scott Pruett, Memo Rojas and the No. 01 TELMEX/Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley team, which leads both championships at 248 points.
"My greatest desire is to win the championship and it always seems like the No. 01 car is the one that is making that difficult," said Fogarty, who won the pole at Montreal in 2007. "Love to beat them, HATE to lose to them. It wouldn't be the same without them but I don't exactly like seeing them all the time. I really want to beat everyone every weekend and the No. 01 car is always satisfying to beat. Not only are they a powerhouse team but any time we gain points against them we know it's for the championship."
It is the third straight year that a late-season championship battle has developed between the archrival teams, with Gurney, Fogarty and the No. 99 team winning the titles in 2007, and Ganassi and its drivers taking the honors last season.
"With three races to go we are at the critical stage in this championship," Gurney said. "The No. 99 and the No. 01 seem to have pulled away a bit from the pack, and now we just need to be trouble free from here on out. It seems we're picking up the same rivalry that we've had the last two years and we will definitely fight with all we have to get another championship."
GAINSCO has led or been tied for the Grand-Am Rolex Series Daytona Prototype championship leads twice this season and the give-and-take at the top of the charts could continue all the way the season-ending race on Homestead-Miami Speedway's road course, October 10. Adding to the team's series-high win total at Montreal and in the penultimate race at Miller Motorsports Park in Utah, September 20, remains GAINSCO's goal as the 2009 season winds down.
"I am sure it will be tight going into the final race at Homestead but we would like to be in control," said Fogarty, who qualified second in last year's Montreal race. "I would say Montreal is a 'must beat the No. 01 weekend,' like all of them. A win is our objective and guarantees the first goal, so that is what we have our sights set on."
GAINSCO won two of 2009's first four races and then capped a mid-season run of three consecutive top-three podium finishes with a victory two races ago in last month's Porsche 250 presented by Legacy Credit Union at Barber Motorsports Park. The earlier race wins came in the Bosch Engineering 250 at Virginia International Raceway in April and the Verizon Festival of Speed presented by SPEEDCOM Communications at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in May, where GAINSCO led the championship standings for the first time this year. The podium showings before the Barber victory were a third-place finish in the EMCO Gears Classic at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and a close second-place finish two weeks later at Daytona International Speedway on the Fourth of July. GAINSCO also finished fourth one race ago in the Crown Royal 200 at Watkins Glen for the team's fourth-straight top-five finish and fifth in the last six races.
The Crown Royal 200 was run on The Glen's 2.45-mile NASCAR short course, the fastest road course on the Grand-Am Rolex Series circuit. Daytona Prototypes average more than 130 mph there for both qualifying and race laps and it appeared some of the competition may have packed a bit more horsepower than the No. 99 at The Glen.
"Our competition is somewhat of a moving target relative to their motor programs, but having said that, a lot of time can be made up in Montreal in the brake zones and corner entries," Fogarty said. "We have been strong there in the past and I expect to be strong this year as well. It is a relatively compact schedule, the track will be changing through the weekend, and it looks like we may have some weather to contend with as well. No matter, the GAINSCO team will be ready to race."
After starting from the pole at Montreal in 2007, GAINSCO, Gurney and Fogarty overcame a wheel-gun failure during a pit stop to finish third. The team led 21 laps after starting from the outside front row last year but a pair of questionable contact incidents, including one with Pruett, literally knocked GAINSCO to an eighth-place finish. Despite last year's result, Gurney, Fogarty and the GAINSCO team consider Montreal one of their better tracks.
"We feel great about our chances at Montreal," Gurney said. "Of the three remaining tracks, I think this is our best opportunity to do well. We have a really good idea of what makes a car go fast around Montreal so we will no doubt be looking to finally get that win at this historic circuit. The atmosphere is always amazing there and we also expect some new cars with some exciting new drivers to show up as well. We're ready to get back at it."
At just two-hours in length, the Montreal 200 joins the Crown Royal 200 as the two shortest races on the Grand-Am Rolex Series tour. Montreal also marks the third and final time this year that the Grand-Am Rolex Series will share the weekend card with a premier NASCAR division. Sunday's feature event at Montreal is a race for the NASCAR Nationwide Series.
Two top NASCAR drivers -- like Jimmie Johnson has done with GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing in the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona the last two years -- are moonlighting in a Daytona Prototype while in Montreal for the Nationwide race. Carl Edwards and Marcos Ambrose will co-drive the No. 77 Doran Racing Ford Dallara in their Rolex Series Daytona Prototype debuts. "It's great to have cars showing up and the relative value in our series comes to the forefront during these economic times," Fogarty said. "Having NASCAR stars is excellent for exposure and it should translate into more good guys for the Rolex 24 in January." -- Fogarty met Ambrose, who came close to co-driving at second GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing entry one race ago in the Crown Royal 200, earlier this decade. "Marcos is super-fast and he tested with Dorricott Racing in Indy Lights at the same time I did. He was super-impressive and would have had a seat had he had the proper funding. All the engineers wanted him on board in a bad way. His success in Cup speaks for itself." -- GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Chief Engineer and race strategist Kyle Brannan had scheduled appendectomy surgery today in California but is still expected to join the team in Montreal by Friday night. In his 20-plus-year career, Brannan has never missed a single day at the track but the GAINSCO crew will capably cover him in his Friday absence. Chuck Houghton, Brannan's main technical colleague, will engineer the No. 99 on Friday. -- GAINSCO will be among a selected group of teams testing various road course configurations at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) on Thursday, Sept. 3. After Gurney handled the team's recent test at Barber Motorsports Park, Fogarty will do the driving for the single-day test at Indy. "I have been to various shops around the track, but never run there or been inside the Speedway," said Fogarty, who declined an offer from the Rahal-Letterman IndyCar team a few years ago to pursue his sports car racing career. "I am excited about the prospects of racing there, and having the opportunity to test should be very helpful as it is not exactly a place where you just show up and test. But racing there would be great; it's a world class facility and I am sure the community will be excited to have great road racing to watch right in their backyard."