Sears Point: Blackhawk Racing qualifying report

Fogarty's top-5 start at Infineon continues strong qualifying streak for GAINSCO team SONOMA, Calif. (August 25, 2006) -- Despite fighting a pushing racecar and getting stuck in tricky traffic jams, Jon Fogarty persevered to qualify his No. 99...

Fogarty's top-5 start at Infineon continues strong qualifying streak for GAINSCO team

SONOMA, Calif. (August 25, 2006) -- Despite fighting a pushing racecar and getting stuck in tricky traffic jams, Jon Fogarty persevered to qualify his No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Pontiac Riley in fifth place for tomorrow's Grand-Am Rolex Series Sonoma 250 at Infineon Raceway. Fogarty, who will share the No. 99 with co-driver Alex Gurney, also will share the challenge of bringing the GAINSCO car to the front.

Jon's best time of 1 minute, 28.874 mph at an average speed of 102.077 mph was far from slow, but he said the plethora of slower traffic and a worsening push in the car prevented him from reaching the car's true potential.

"I can't say I was alone in the hardship of trying to find a clear lap -- it was really difficult out there with people trying to gap themselves and I really only got one clear lap," Fogarty said. "Nonetheless, the car wasn't quite ideal; I don't think we were aggressive enough on the qualifying setup so we learned some from that. The track is changing a lot, too, with the IRL cars putting down lots of rubber."

Gurney set the quickest time in the morning's opening session, and said he thought the track changes were a major factor in keeping Fogarty off the front row.

"It's one of those questions where we're chasing the track -- the heat of the afternoon and the IRL rubber have really mixed things up," Gurney said. "The first and second session we were really quick and looking forward to qualifying the GAINSCO machine, but it just goes to show how quickly things can change. We're both confident and we still have a fast racecar. We'll just have to pass the guys on the track tomorrow."

Fogarty makes his home just 50 miles south in Los Altos, and he cut his teeth on the circuit's rolling hills and plunging turns. "I really enjoy this track, so it's good to be back home," he said. "It's such a cool circuit to drive and the elevation change is unbelievable. This place is pretty special."

For Gurney, the 2.52-mile road course in the Wine Country of Northern California is his favorite stop on the 14-race Grand-Am schedule. "This place just has so much of everything, from fast corners to slow turns and tons of elevation change -- it's just really fun for the driver," Gurney said.

Given the difficulties his team faced, owner Bob Stallings was pragmatic -- sure, he would have liked a pole, but what he really wants is his team's first-ever Rolex Series win and starting in fifth gives him the opportunity to get just that.

"Fifth is not a bad place to start because at the end of the day there's a lot of guys winning races coming from the back," Stalllings said. "For sure the team wants to do well in qualifying, but the key at the start is just to get through the first turn safely. Then you've got all afternoon to move up from there. Both Alex and Jon like the track, we've been fast all weekend and I think we're going to have a strong race."

-credit: gainscoracing.com

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Alex Gurney , Jon Fogarty , Bob Stallings