ALTON, Va. - If it's not one thing, it's another - that could be the tale of the past few Rolex Sports Car Series races for Alex Gurney, Bob Stallings and the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance/Wells Fargo Pontiac Riley, and it rang true again this ...
ALTON, Va. - If it's not one thing, it's another - that could be the tale of the past few Rolex Sports Car Series races for Alex Gurney, Bob Stallings and the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance/Wells Fargo Pontiac Riley, and it rang true again this afternoon at the Virginia International Raceway in qualifying for Sunday's VIR 400k.
After setting the fastest time in today's wet morning practice, Alex Gurney was denied the opportunity to go for his third Rolex Series pole position by more inclement weather, which washed out the 15-minute qualifying sessions for both the Daytona Prototype and Grand Touring classes and resulted in the grid being set by team owner points.
On paper, this would grid the team 17th, but an unfortunate rules misunderstanding resulted in the team's driver nomination form being turned in just a few minutes after the deadline. The penalty is strict - so Alex will start the GAINSCO Riley shotgun on the field in 24th.
"We were under the impression that the deadline was two hours before our qualifying session," Stallings said. "Unfortunately the series officials interpreted the rulebook differently which resulted in us being all of 8 minutes late. We know the rules are there for a reason - but we still don't know the reason."
Bob is never ready to declare defeat, however - his confidence in his team's ability to get Alex in a position to challenge for the win is unshakeable.
"We did not get any time in the dry, and not much time period, so I think tomorrow will be a tough fight, but whenever Alex Gurney is in a race car, anything can happen. The No. 99 GAINSCO car has been up in the thick of the fight at every race so far and I don't intend to snap that streak here," Stallings said.
Gurney was equally disappointed, given his stunning speed earlier in the wet conditions. The four-row penalty, he said, throws off the team's carefully managed race strategy, planned in conjunction with engineer Kyle Brannan.
"I was really happy with the car today especially given that neither myself nor Bob have gotten much time out here in anything but rain," Alex said. "If it's dry tomorrow, though, we really don't know where we'll be. Our strategy was going to be to start up front and avoid the trouble that I think is going to be in the back with the track being so slick, but that all goes out the window now. It might turn out be a long day ahead of us, but we're going to give it our best shot and see what happens."
Bob and Alex will take a shot at charging from the back to the front tomorrow, as the 77-lap, two-hour and 45-minute race is set to begin Sunday at 1 p.m. Eastern, 10 a.m. Pacific. SPEED Channel will present live, flag- to-flag coverage of the event also beginning at 1 p.m. Eastern. Live timing and Web radio coverage of all the exciting Rolex Sports Car Series action will be available at http://www.Grand-Am.com.