Early struggles at VIR leave GAINSCO team in 14th, 'disappointed but undaunted' ALTON, Va. (April 23, 2006) -- If it weren't for bad luck, the GAINSCO/Blackhawk Racing team wouldn't have any at all. In the first five laps of Sunday's Grand-Am ...
Early struggles at VIR leave GAINSCO team in 14th, 'disappointed but undaunted'
ALTON, Va. (April 23, 2006) -- If it weren't for bad luck, the GAINSCO/Blackhawk Racing team wouldn't have any at all. In the first five laps of Sunday's Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series VIR 400 at Virginia International Raceway, Jon Fogarty charged through the field in the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Pontiac Riley, moving from 18th up to 11th in no time at all, despite losing his traction control on the parade laps. But minor contact with the No. 12 Fernandez Racing entry sheared off a valve stem on the GAINSCO machine, and the deflated tire shredded the nose bodywork, forcing an early pit stop that put Fogarty a lap behind. Despite the best efforts of Fogarty and co-driver Alex Gurney, the team couldn't make up the gap, leaving Alex to bring the 99 home in 14th place.
"I got a solid start and moved up fast, but then the left front tire just went down with absolutely no warning," Fogarty said. "It was all I could do to bring the car back to the pits without hurting it even more." For Gurney, the VIR race was another case of "coulda, woulda, shoulda."
"It seems like we just can't shake this bad luck. I had the speed but we weren't able to get that lap back, which was frustrating," Gurney said. "Still, I think we again showed that we're as fast as any team out there, and we'll be looking to do a lot better at Laguna Seca."
While the finish was not what the team was hoping for coming into the weekend, both Gurney and Fogarty turned blistering-quick laps, including the third-fastest time of the race, and both were able to keep pace right with the leaders. Gurney hung with the lead pack as the laps wound down and provided the team with a lot of TV time on SPEED. Team owner Bob Stallings said he was "disappointed but undaunted" and congratulated his crew on their non-stop work ethic and efforts to keep the team in the hunt.
"We had high expectations coming into this weekend and it's disappointing to have the problems we had, but I am thoroughly impressed by the amazing efforts put in by Jon, Alex and the GAINSCO crew this weekend," Stallings said. "I was particularly thrilled by the way that Alex and Jon worked together with Kyle Brannan, our engineer, to improve the car and make it one of the fastest out on track all weekend -- I really do think we have one of the best driver teamings in the series, as far as their ability to help each other go faster."
The cut tire might have marred Fogarty's debut in the GAINSCO machine, but no matter -- Jon was thrilled to be back driving a Daytona Prototype, and he was enthusiastic about the raw speed he was able to get from the car.
"Alex and I put together a setup that was bang-on, and our driving styles really complement each other's," Fogarty said. "Every time we sit down in the trailer with Kyle we make the car faster and easier to drive."
The GAINSCO/Blackhawk Racing team will return to their Dallas shops to complete work on the new No. 99, which will take to the track for the first time at the next Rolex Series race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. The Road & Track 250 weekend kicks off May 4 with testing for the Rolex Sports Car Series. Official practice begins May 5, with a points-paying qualifying race on May 6. The 112-lap, two-hour and 45 minute race will go green at noon on Sunday, May 7, and will be broadcast live on SPEED Channel. Internet radio coverage, live timing and scoring and race updates are available at Grand-Am.com.