Vasser joins GAINSCO team for nine-hour Grand-Am finale, prepares with two-day test in Utah TOOELE, Utah (July 19, 2006) -- On July 16 and 17, 1996 Champ Car World Series champion Jimmy Vasser got behind the wheel of the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto ...
Vasser joins GAINSCO team for nine-hour Grand-Am finale, prepares with two-day test in Utah
TOOELE, Utah (July 19, 2006) -- On July 16 and 17, 1996 Champ Car World Series champion Jimmy Vasser got behind the wheel of the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Pontiac Riley for the first time since February, as he joined GAINSCO/Blackhawk Racing's regular drivers Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty in testing at Miller Motorsports Park. The two-day tune-up session will help the team prepare for the 9-hour Discount Tire Sunchaser, the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series season finale here on Labor Day weekend.
"I'm thrilled to be back with the GAINSCO team and I think we've got a great chance to run strong and be in the hunt for a victory," Vasser said. The current co-owner of Champ Car squad PKV Racing put in several stints during the two days and was up to speed in no time.
Team owner Bob Stallings was at least as thrilled as Vasser. "Jimmy brings good style and leadership along with all his experience and that's why I'm always excited to have him driving the 99 GAINSCO car. We've got three drivers who work together extremely well -- they depend on each other to keep the car in one piece, which is what you have to do to win these endurance races. It's really a winning mindset," Stallings said.
Alex is also looking forward to racing with Jimmy again. "He's a great guy to have around, he got the car up to speed quick and he's a real asset when we sit down with Kyle back in the trailer to work out our setup," Gurney said. Jon echoed his co-driver's sentiments, saying, "This is definitely a solid lineup, and I think Jimmy, Alex and I work together better than any other team. There's a good vibe in the GAINSCO truck right now."
On track, Vasser, Fogarty and Gurney found the featureless terrain and extreme length of the brand-new, multi-million dollar facility in the Utah desert to be daunting challenges. All agreed that the time was well spent, and the successful test has built confidence that the team will perform as strongly as anyone when the green flag drops.
"This track is simply awesome -- it's got a little bit of everything including some really challenging high-speed corners," Gurney said. "The GAINSCO Pontiac rolled off the trailer quick and we ended up very pleased with how the car was handling."
Fogarty was impressed by the sheer scale of the 4.5-mile, 24-turn road course, and felt it could be a little tough to pass on despite its extreme length. But, he said, "The fast sweepers are great and it's really fun to drive on. We got solidly familiar with the track and that's going to be key."
Alex and Jon agreed that the circuit was void of reference points, and as the sun sets on the noon-to-9-p.m. event, Fogarty predicted "the night will make this a whole different track."
The GAINSCO team next will roll into the heart of the South, with racing action at the Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama from July 27-30. Testing is set for the 27th, with practice on the 28th and Daytona Prototype qualifying on the 29th. The Porsche 250 presented by Bradley Arant will go green at 2 p.m. Eastern on the 30th, and will be televised live on SPEED Channel. Race weekend updates from the team are available on the From the Pit blog at GAINSCOracing.blogspot.com, and Internet radio coverage and live timing and scoring are available at www.Grand-Am.com.