GAINSCO Pontiac Wins Grand-Am Championship Riley-Matthews Pontiac Wins DP Race, Banner Racing GXP.R Wins GT Race The GAINSCO Pontiac team with drivers Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty won the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal...
GAINSCO Pontiac Wins Grand-Am Championship
Riley-Matthews Pontiac Wins DP Race, Banner Racing GXP.R Wins GT Race
The GAINSCO Pontiac team with drivers Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty won the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve Daytona Prototype (DP) championship today at Miller Motorsport Park in Salt Lake City. The duo finished the race in eighth place which was enough to take the championship trophy. The Riley-Mathews Pontiac won the race with the SAMAX Pontiac in second and the Krohn Pontiac in third, making it an all Pontiac DP podium. In GT, Paul Edwards, Kelly Collins and Andy Pilgrim drove their No. 07 Banner Pontiac GXP.R to the race win.
With a single point lead coming into today's 1000k race, the GAINSCO Pontiac team had luck go their way toward the end of the race. Alex Gurney took the lead from the green flag and was in a nose-to-tail battle for most of the event with the championship contending 01 Lexus in close pursuit. The 99 was running in third around lap115 when Fogarty in the 99 got together with the 01 resulting in flat tires to both cars. Fogarty was able to limp his Pontiac Riley around and keep the body work intact, the crew changed the tire and Gurney got in for the final stint. The 01 damaged the rear body work and had an extended pit stop. Both cars returned and were running within a few positions of each other with seven laps to go. Contact again between the 99 and 01 on lap 132 resulted in the 01 getting a drive-thru penalty ending their championship aspirations with five laps remaining. The victory gives Pontiac the drivers, team and manufacturers championship in the DP class.
"We deserved the championship," Gurney said. "We broke all the records this year and had a really good car. The race was crazy, especially at the end. It got really dirty out there. I am disappointed with some of my fellow competitors. The car had a vibration toward the end. I just had to bring it home after the 01 got their penalty. In the end we won the championship. Bob Stallings together with Pontiac and Riley, we had the tools to win."
"This was a difficult championship," Fogarty said. "The whole team was very focused this year. We had a fast car all season and we won seven races. Kyle Brannan, our team engineer, Bob Stallings with Pontiac power and the Riley chassis was the right combination for us this season. Bob is a great leader and really brought all of the pieces together to allow us to win this championship."
Following the skirmish between the No. 99 and the 01, it appeared that the No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac of Max Angelelli and Jan Magnussen moved into a position to win the championship, being just three points behind coming into the race. Then two laps later on lap 117 the No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac team's championship hopes were extinguished. A cut right rear tire came apart and ignited a fire ending their day at the pit lane entrance with Max Angelelli behind the wheel.
"We knew we did not have the quickest car for one lap, but we knew that we could race both of them over the longer distances," Angelelli said. "We had the strategy in our favor. Our car was good on used tires. We fought all day long on the track. And losing a race and a championship this way is not just. It's just awful. It's a bad feeling. It's going to take a long time for me to forget today and this result."
"The whole GAINSCO team did an excellent job this year," Mark Kent, head of GM Racing said. "Bob Stallings assembled an excellent team and Jon Fogarty and Alex Gurney really did the job behind the wheel. The team had a tough run at Daytona, finishing in 22nd place, then came back over the course of the season to win seven races and 10 pole positions making for a very solid year. They are well deserving of the championship."
Winning the race was the Riley-Mathews Pontiac with drivers Jim Mathews, Marc Goosens and Ryan Hunter-Reay. This marked the team's first win of the season.
"This win is a long time coming," Mathews said. "Marc and Ryan drove a great race and as a team we were able to get our first win in the last race. We never put a wheel wrong and we didn't have any bad luck. The car never missed a beat, the Riley guys really had us hooked up. This is a nice way to go into the 2008 season."
In GT, Paul Edwards started the No. 07 from pole position, the seventh on the season, and never looked back. The 07 car was never out of the lead all race. The Banner team performed near perfect service in the pits just adding fuel, tires and fresh driver the entire seven hours. The win put the duo of Collins and Edwards second in the season ending GT points standings. The pair logged two wins and six pole positions on the season.
"It went down to the last lap," Edwards said. "In the last three turns the 85 and I came up on the slow 36 GTO, I went high and got in the marbles and then went low into the last turn and the 36 got into the 85 and we won. The car was good all race, just gas, tires and a driver. The Banner crew prepared a great car and it really ran well here all weekend. We led every practice session, got the pole and won the race. A great day!"
In the No. 06 team GXP.R, Leighton Reese, Tim Lewis Jr. and Johnny O'Connell were running toward the front of the pack, as high as second in the middle of the race. Then on lap 74 O'Connell pitted the Pontiac for a right rear shock and half-shaft change, relegating the trio to a 16th place finishing position.
"We had a tough run today," Lewis Jr. said. "The opening stint with Leighton was pretty good, making our way up to fourth. I got in and things started to happen at the rear, I think we broke a shock and then things started to get worse. We had an extended pit stop when Johnny was in the car which put us out of contention. It was a tough way to end the year."
-credit: gm racing