Grand-Am Rolex Series Champs Alex Gurney, Jon Fogarty and GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Look for First VIR and 2008 Win DALLAS (April 23, 2008) -- Encouraged by a strong performance and equally determined after a nearly-missed victory less...
Grand-Am Rolex Series Champs Alex Gurney, Jon Fogarty and GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Look for First VIR and 2008 Win
DALLAS (April 23, 2008) -- Encouraged by a strong performance and equally determined after a nearly-missed victory less than a week ago in Mexico City, reigning Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Champions Alex Gurney, Jon Fogarty and GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing are primed for their first win of 2008 at this weekend's Bosch Engineering 250 at Virginia International Raceway.
The team was the fastest in the field during last week's Mexico City 250, which should bode well for the GAINSCO squad as they head back to a VIR circuit that is a team favorite. After opening the season on the superspeedway stadium road courses at Daytona and Homestead-Miami, the Mexico City and VIR stretch gives the team back-to-back chances for success on two traditional and high-speed road courses, the type of tracks that play to the GAINSCO team's strength.
In Mexico, the team was fastest in most of the practice sessions and Gurney set the fastest race lap, but a team pit-stop miscue while Fogarty was leading a little over one-third of the way into the race essentially ended any chances for a win. Still, the team rallied back to finish fourth and left pleased with the speed and performance of the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Pontiac Riley, a trend that should continue at VIR.
"We are going to be good there," Gurney said. "We have had a good car there and I think we have a good chance of winning. I love this track. Those esses are great. I wish they would put a grandstand there, low and really close, because the cars look so fast there. You are flat out and the car is really moving and it is just sketchy, and the car is also sketchy. It is a fast and fun track."
Despite not yet hitting the win column, the GAINSCO team's early season start is its best in just three full seasons of Rolex Series competition. Joined by fellow Champions Jimmie Johnson and Jimmy Vasser and with co-sponsorship from Lowe's at the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona, the team finished a solid second, led the race and challenged for the win throughout the event. One race later in the GAINSCO Grand Prix of Miami, Gurney and Fogarty co-drove to a sixth-place finish to match their career best result at that track. Heading to VIR, the No. 99 GAINSCO team and the duo of Gurney and Fogarty are each third in the respective Rolex Series Team and Driver Championships with 85 points. They trail Mexico City winners Marc Goossens and Jim Matthews and the No. 91 Riley-Matthews team by just a point and are within 17 points of leaders Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas and the No. 01 TELMEX/Chip Ganassi Racing team.
In last year's Rolex Series race at VIR, Fogarty qualified second and challenged for the lead from the start, leading seven laps.
"We got the front row, I made a money pass on Colin Braun for the lead and we kind of bumped one another, it was money," Fogarty said. "After pit stops we were running third and I just went wide at the Oak Tree Turn. Nothing happened, I just went off. At least five cars went by and I came right back on and suddenly I was in eighth, and that was kind of it."
Gurney later took over for Fogarty and, much like last week in Mexico, charged through the field to take fifth at the finish. The result was the best career finish for GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing at VIR, but the team knows it has what it takes to get its first VIR win this time around.
More than just a problem at VIR's trademark Oak Tree Turn, however, could be in the way this weekend if a recent trend continues. Fogarty has had two run-ins with Rojas in each of the last two races, including a string of rapid-fire body blows from the No. 01 while Fogarty was passing for the lead on the front straight last week in Mexico.
"Jon got a run on him, got all the way alongside of him and had the pass done," said Gurney, who watched the drama unfold as he waited for his driving stint in the pits. "The No. 01 car is like a top-fuel dragster down the front straight so he just started driving back by Jon and started hitting him on the straight for some reason. That's the way they play."
All obstacles aside, GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing has a very good chance to be first at the finish for the first time at VIR and in 2008 this weekend. They have led each of the year's first three races and being there when it counts could happen as soon as this Sunday.
"I love the track and we have always been quick there," Fogarty said. "I screwed up last year and plan on making good on that, and that means a win."