NO. 99 GAINSCO AUTO INSURANCE CAR SECOND QUICK IN THURSDAY PRACTICE DESPITE SHUNT MONTREAL, Quebec, Canada (July 31, 2008) -- Despite getting caught up in a Thursday afternoon practice accident on the opening day of the Montreal 200 at Circuit...
NO. 99 GAINSCO AUTO INSURANCE CAR SECOND QUICK IN THURSDAY PRACTICE DESPITE SHUNT
MONTREAL, Quebec, Canada (July 31, 2008) -- Despite getting caught up in a Thursday afternoon practice accident on the opening day of the Montreal 200 at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing and reigning Rolex Series Champions Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty will be back on track and at full strength for tomorrow's 74-lap race on the 2.709-mile circuit. Round 10 of the 2008 Rolex Series, the Montreal 200 starts at 4:15 p.m. and can be seen later on Friday in same-day coverage on SPEED at 8 p.m. ET.
Just minutes after setting what was then the quickest lap of Thursday's practice, Fogarty was wheeling the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Pontiac Riley through Turn 8 on the Isle Notre Dame track in a fast pack of Daytona Prototypes when they come upon a Mazda RX-8 GT race car that had spun sideways and was blocking the majority of the track.
"We were kind of racing and Darren Law in the No. 58 car and myself were trying to get by the No. 75 car and there are a lot of blind corners on this track," Fogarty said. "We came around Turn 8 and fanned out and there was a GT car blocking the road. They all checked up and I was right on their rears and I just got into the back of Darren. I tried to do my best to slow down and he was doing the same. I spun and was rolling backwards and the No. 61 came around the corner and, like I said, it's blind and I was there and he couldn't do anything to avoid me. We had contact and then I had contact with the wall."
Fogarty was uninjured but the No. 99 sustained front and right-side damage with the heaviest hit area being the right-rear corner. The GAINSCO team quickly began repairs and was expected to have the No. 99 Pontiac Riley back together by early Thursday evening.
"First of all, it's appropriate that we had this happen to us because really everything else you can imagine has happened to us this year, but we haven't really had a big crash that has caused a lot of damage until now," said team owner Bob Stallings, who has seen his drivers and crew persevere through a variety of challenges this season. "It is a big pain in the rear for the guys because the crew has to do a lot of work to get the car ready for tomorrow. My biggest concern is being able to get out on the track and make sure the car is okay before qualifying. Hopefully we will get a hardship lap because certainly we don't want to dump a bunch of oil on the track during qualifying. It behooves everybody to make sure the car is okay."
The Montreal 200 is only the second race this season that will see Rolex Series competitors qualify and race on the same day. Friday's qualifying will be run at 1:15 p.m., four hours before the scheduled race start. As he usually does in Rolex Series sprint races, Fogarty will qualify the No. 99, which means teammate Gurney will have driven minimal practice laps before taking the wheel of the GAINSCO race car for the second half of tomorrow's race.
"It was a pretty unfortunate set of circumstances," said Gurney who was on pace as the first driver to practice Thursday despite minimal laps. "It was probably the worst spot on the race track that Jon met up with those guys. It's unfortunate for me because I really didn't run much at all and that was at the beginning when the track was pretty dirty. Jon went fairly quick in that session and he feels that the car is pretty good, so it should be okay."
Fogarty's quick lap time of 1:34.721 (102.959 mph) ranked as the second fastest overall lap of the day despite GAINSCO missing both of the afternoon's final practice sessions. The No. 99 was second only to championship rival Scott Pruett who topped Thursday practice and also continues to lead the Rolex Series standings with teammate Memo Rojas and the No. 01 TELMEX/Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley team with 295 points. The No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Pontiac Riley is second in the team championship with 235 points while the same number of points also has Gurney and Fogarty with the second highest total in the Rolex Series Driver Championship.
"The car is good and I know the GAINSCO crew will be able to put the car back together straight so it will be good when we roll tomorrow," Fogarty said. "Alex probably wanted another opportunity to get in the car before the race but it doesn't look like that is going to happen. We will just have to get it back to where it was and I think it is definitely good enough to go racing with."