GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing seals third in GRAND-AM Rolex Series Championship with runner-up finish in Utah TOOELE, Utah (September 11, 2010) -- GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing, and drivers Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty, clinched third place in the...
GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing seals third in GRAND-AM Rolex Series Championship with runner-up finish in Utah
TOOELE, Utah (September 11, 2010) -- GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing, and drivers Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty, clinched third place in the 2010 GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series Daytona Prototype Team Championship with a second-place finish in Saturday's season-ending Utah 250 at Miller Motorsports Park.
The runner-up result gave GAINSCO its first streak of four or more top-three podium finishes since 2007's championship season and also helped Fogarty clinch third place in the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series Daytona Prototype Driver Championship. GAINSCO also finished second one race ago in the Montreal 200 and third in the Crown Royal 200 at The Glen earlier in August before kicking-off the podium run with the team's lone victory of the 2010 season in July's New Jersey Motorsports Park (NJMP) 250.
"The GAINSCO car was quick, I could get through traffic well and the car felt good," said Fogarty, who started second in the No. 99. "I am happy to end the season with four-straight podiums and we are definitely more upbeat about that than our mid-season performance. It was a strong end for the GAINSCO team."
GAINSCO's late-season rally came after the team and drivers shook off a streak of bad luck and mistakes in the first part of the year. Mechanical failures in two of the year's first three races resulted in a change to Chevrolet motors built by ECR (Earnhardt Childress Racing) Engines prior to Memorial Day's event at Lime Rock Park and the win at NJMP came five races later. The No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Chevrolet Riley team was hoping to add a second victory today but ultimately lacked the pace of the race and championship winning No. 01 TELMEX/Chip Ganassi Racing BMW Riley of Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas.
"I think we got the most out of the car and that was as high as we were going to finish today," said Gurney, who drove the final two hours of the race. "I wasn't exactly sure what kind pace Scott was going to be able to do and it seemed like in the first few laps I was reasonably close, but he eventually just pulled away. On the second set of tires he really pulled away, it wasn't even close, so I didn't feel like I was challenging him much at all."
Fogarty overcame an opening lap incident that cost him several positions after going wide in Turn 1 after starting the race on the outside of the front row.
"I thought I had a good start but I was just getting freight-trained down in Turn 1 and I figured I might be able to make back a couple of those spots with a bold move," Fogarty said. "There's nothing to hit out there so I went for it, but without the tires up to temperature and being a little bit off line, the grip wasn't there and I just didn't hang in there. I went wide but got going again and made it through traffic and had a pretty good run. So it was worth the effort, worth the try."
Fogarty charged back to third before handing over to Gurney who in turn moved to second after the GAINSCO/Bob Stallings crew nailed the team's final pit stop with just less than 70 minutes to go in the timed 2-3/4-hour race.
"We were really happy to have a really good pit stop and get ahead of the 10 car, I guess they stalled, but still that was a very close situation, so we needed every moment there and the guys did it perfect. All in all, a pretty good day for us and I think we maximized what we had."
Despite the late-season rally, and the No. 99 team's fourth consecutive top-three finish in the points - including Daytona Prototype Team and Driver Championships in 2007 and 2009 - GAINSCO still left Utah a little disappointed with this year's racing season.
"We set the bar high for ourselves so anything other than victories and championships is a little disappointing," Fogarty said. "You have to face the facts of life and things don't always go perfectly. When they don't we just keep fighting and that's what makes this team a top contender all of the time. We definitely had a rough spot there in the middle of the season but we didn't let it get us down and we ended the year with four podiums and almost finished second in the championship. It's just a great team to be a part of, we will keep the fight going and a few months head to Daytona."
Both the No. 99 and Fogarty ended the year with 325 points to take third-place honors in the respective team and driver championships. The No. 01, Pruett and Rojas clinched their titles with 372 points while the No. 10 SunTrust Ford Dallara, and drivers Max Angelelli and Ricky Taylor, finished second in the team and driver championships with 332 points. Taylor and Angelelli led nearly half of the Utah 250 but fell to third at the finish after being passed by the No. 01 an the No. 99 during final pit stops.
GAINSCO clinched its first GRAND-AM Rolex Series titles in Utah after a race-long battle with the No. 01 team in 2007. The team finished third in 2008 and then took a giant step toward wrapping up the 2009 championships with a dominating win in last year's Utah 250. Saturday's second-place finish was GAINSCO's third consecutive podium showing at Miller Motorsports Park.
In addition to the four podium finishes to close the season, GAINSCO also finished third in March's Grand Prix of Miami - Gurney was quick to make mention of the No. 01 team's obvious performance advantage in victory lane interviews over Miller's public address system. "I wish it would have been a little more exciting for you," Gurney said to the fans in attendance. "Maybe next year they will put a boat anchor on these guys." - Gurney, Fogarty, team owner Bob Stallings and several members of GAINSCO's executive management team will attend the year-end Rolex Awards Banquet at Aria Casino and Hotel Monday night, September 13, in Las Vegas. While in town, Gurney and Stallings plan to participate in a Texas Hold 'Em Poker Tournament Sunday night at a nearby casino^a Stallings was proud of his team and is looking forward to next season. "I think we have very good momentum heading into next year," Stallings said. "The team feels very good about themselves, and I really feel like ECR, and some hopefully approved changes that will be made to the motor, make me pretty optimistic that we will be able to run with anybody out there next year."