DEFENDING RACE WINNERS LOOK TO KEEP MOMENTUM ROLLING WITH REPEAT WIN SATURDAY SONOMA, Calif. (August 21, 2008) -- Reigning Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Champions GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing and drivers Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty turned in...
DEFENDING RACE WINNERS LOOK TO KEEP MOMENTUM ROLLING WITH REPEAT WIN SATURDAY
SONOMA, Calif. (August 21, 2008) -- Reigning Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Champions GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing and drivers Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty turned in a quiet but productive opening practice session Thursday for Saturday's Armed Forces Grand-Am 250 at Infineon Raceway, but will be looking for more speed tomorrow. The defending Sonoma race winners ended the two-hour practice session seventh overall after Gurney lapped the 2.47-mile Napa Valley road course in 1:27.797 (101.279 mph) in the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Pontiac Riley.
Saturday's race -- Round 12 of 14 on the 2008 Rolex Series schedule -- will be 102 laps with a 2-¾ hour time limit. The green flag is scheduled to drop at 3:00 p.m. PT and the race can be seen in next-day coverage on SPEED, Sunday, August 24 at Noon ET.
"We definitely have some work to do," Gurney said. "We are trying to find some balance and it looks like there are a lot of guys that are going fast and we are still trying to figure it out. Unfortunately there is not a lot of practice time and that is kind of it for me until the race."
As he usually does in Rolex Series sprint races, Fogarty will qualify the No. 99 tomorrow afternoon after a single morning practice session. Fogarty was on the pole here last year at Infineon, one of a record 10 times in 2007 that GAINSCO took the top spot.
"You have so many corners at this place and if you are just off a little bit it costs you, and I think we are seeing that," Fogarty said. "We will sit down and look at the data and come up with a game plan and try something kind of new for tomorrow morning. Hopefully that will give us direction and carry us into qualifying. It is going to be difficult because the two sessions are so spread out and I expect the track conditions to change quite a bit, but we will be alright."
The GAINSCO team and drivers are second in the Rolex Series championship 49 points behind leaders Scott Pruett, Memo Rojas and the No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley. A repeat win at Infineon would greatly help the GAINSCO squad continue a late-season charge on the championship that began one race ago with the team's third second-place finish of the year in the Crown Royal 200 at The Glen. GAINSCO also has a victory this season at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in June's EMCO Gears Classic.
Both Gurney and Fogarty are California natives and each will have a large group of family and friends at the track this weekend. Fogarty is a native of nearby Palo Alto and ran his first auto races on the Sonoma road course. "My first race ever in a car was at Sonoma back in 1994," Fogarty said. "It was when Skip Barber had a school here we were in Formula Fords. I don't remember where I finished, but I think I led for awhile. My first non-school type of a race was in a Formula Vee, and we ran in mixed wet and dry conditions and I won. That was the first race of the 1995 Formula Vee SCCA San Francisco regional championship, which I ended up winning."