Another top-5 start for Gurney as GAINSCO team readies for nine-hour Salt Lake sundown duel TOOELE, Utah (September 1, 2006) -- With his fastest lap of the weekend, Alex Gurney recorded another strong qualifying result today at Miller...
Another top-5 start for Gurney as GAINSCO team readies for nine-hour Salt Lake sundown duel
TOOELE, Utah (September 1, 2006) -- With his fastest lap of the weekend, Alex Gurney recorded another strong qualifying result today at Miller Motorsports Park he'll start third on the grid for tomorrow's Rolex Sports Car Series Discount Tire Sunchaser, leaving just two cars and nine hours ahead of him and the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Pontiac Riley.
Alex's lap of 2 minutes, 38.253 seconds was set at an average speed of 102.059 mph, on his fifth lap of the gargantuan 4.486-mile, 24-turn road course set on a rise in the Utah desert within sight of the Great Salt Lake. Jon Fogarty and Jimmy Vasser will join Gurney in pursuit of a strong finish to close out the 2006 sophomore season for the GAINSCO/Blackhawk Racing team.
"We're pretty happy to be starting up front," Gurney said. "I got a couple good clean laps and the GAINSCO car felt very comfortable out there. We made a few changes from yesterday and it seemed to help balance the car out. That said, pace doesn't really matter here at all. It's a nine-hour race and the key is just to run clean, not hit anyone and don't break anything for about eight hours. Then we can get down to racing. Our goal is to be in the top five with an hour to go. That will be the time to uncork what we've got."
Fogarty and Vasser both took it easy today, getting only a few minutes of track time each in the morning's practice session. Every lap they can get will be key, because the barren course provides few easy reference points. The problem will become even more acute as the sun sets. "Preparing for the dark is one of the biggest challenges of the weekend -- we're doing everything we can to improve visibility," Fogarty said. "Everyone's in the same boat, though, and I'm just going to have to drive to the utmost limit of my ability. We'll deal with it the best we can. It'll definitely be a wildcard."
Team owner Bob Stallings was again pleased with his team's comeback performance from a few setup struggles on Thursday.
"The fact that we've moved up the timecharts this dramatically shows what kind of a team we have," Stallings said. "The GAINSCO Boys just don't quit, and (engineer) Kyle Brannan did an excellent job in working with Jimmy, Jon and Alex in putting together a Pontiac rocketship. We could have had the pole, but I really don't think the pole is that important here. We've got to run smart to be around at the end because we're learning that's how you win races in this series."
Tomorrow's racing activities for the GAINSCO team will begin with a 30-minute warmup session at 9:30 a.m. Mountain Time. Then, the inaugural Discount Tire Sunchaser 9-Hour will get the green flag at high noon, running into the evening until the checkers fall after dark at 9 p.m. SPEED Channel will broadcast the race live in two segments, with the first beginning at 2 p.m. Eastern time and the second at 8 p.m. Eastern.