Luck of the draw puts GAINSCO team down, but not out, under the lights at Phoenix AVONDALE, Ariz. (May 13, 2006) -- One lap. 58 seconds. That was the difference between a potential podium and the GAINSCO Auto Insurance team's eventual...
Luck of the draw puts GAINSCO team down, but not out, under the lights at Phoenix
AVONDALE, Ariz. (May 13, 2006) -- One lap. 58 seconds. That was the difference between a potential podium and the GAINSCO Auto Insurance team's eventual eighth-place finish under the lights at the GAINSCO Grand Prix presented by GAINSCO Auto Insurance at Phoenix International Raceway. The team gambled on a one-stop race strategy, and it nearly came together -- but just one lap after Jon Fogarty brought the No. 99 GAINSCO Pontiac Riley into the pits and handed it over to Alex Gurney, a full-course caution was called for the spun-off 06 Corvette. The Lap 91 caution froze the team one lap down, and despite Gurney's valiant efforts to pass the eventual winner, Scott Pruett's 01 CompUSA machine, Alex couldn't win back the lap. However, the top-10 result, combined with troubles for several of the GAINSCO team's rivals, moved the No. 99 up two spots to seventh in the Grand-Am team championship -- the team's highest-ever placing in the overall standings.
"We took a gamble on our strategy and it just didn't pay off, as we didn't get the yellow flag when we needed it," Gurney said. "It was a shame because the GAINSCO car was really hooked up -- I was able to hang with the leader and pressure him at times for the last hour of the race. We had at least a second-place car, so it's disappointing to come home eighth, but we got some valuable points and brought the car home in one piece. We are definitely hungry to get in the winner's circle sooner rather than later."
Fogarty drove an outstanding stint, leading 21 laps in the No. 99 -- the first laps led by the team since the Mid-Ohio race last August. He did this despite running on Hoosier tires that managed to last more than half the race -- for Jon, it was time to hang tough.
"At the end of my stint I was just hanging on for dear life, and the wheels were spinning all the way down the straights. The tires were cooked and I couldn't hold back the lead pack who had all taken on fresh tires during their pit stop," Fogarty said. "I was pleased to be able to get the No. 99 GAINSCO car to the front of the field in front of our hometown crowd of GAINSCO agents, but it's a bummer that our pit strategy just missed out by a lap. When you gamble, sometimes you come out on the losing end -- we were quick, we were clean and we'll give it another shot at Watkins Glen in a couple of weeks. 8th isn't awful all things considered, but the car was better than that. We did move up in the points, so I am happy about that."
Team owner Bob Stallings was pragmatic about the result -- it was perhaps not what he was looking for, but the cumulative results of the past two race weekends has been all positive for the No. 99 squad. After a string of nearly uninterrupted tough breaks and hard hits to open the 2006 Rolex Sports Car Series season, Gurney and Fogarty have recorded seventh, second, third and eighth-place finishes in the last four races to put the team back on track.
"Luck wasn't with us tonight, but I'm proud of the GAINSCO team for putting together a strong race and it's clear to me that our day will come soon," Stallings said. "We came into this West Coast swing in 14th in the points and we're leaving in 7th, with four solid top-10 and top-5 finishes behind us. Our season got off to a rough start but we're turning it around in a big way and we'll hope to continue that progress at Watkins Glen."
There's no rest for the weary, as the GAINSCO Auto Insurance team will pack up and head for a three-day test at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., where the Rolex Series will race this August. After the test, the team will return to their Dallas shops and prepare for the Sahlen's Six Hours of the Glen, a six-hour endurance test on June 3rd at Watkins Glen International in Watkins Glen, N.Y.