GAINSCO team's early struggles at VIRginia overcome by top-5 comeback charge DANVILLE, Va. (April 29, 2007) -- Despite contact, spins and bodywork damage, Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty soldiered home in fifth place this afternoon at the Grand-Am...
GAINSCO team's early struggles at VIRginia overcome by top-5 comeback charge
DANVILLE, Va. (April 29, 2007) -- Despite contact, spins and bodywork damage, Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty soldiered home in fifth place this afternoon at the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series VIR 400k at the VIRginia International Raceway. Piloting the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Pontiac-powered Riley, the duo truly endured the 77-lap race at one of the series' toughest tracks.
After starting from the outside pole for the third straight race, Fogarty made a daring pass for the lead in Turn 1 on the No. 75 Krohn Racing car, driven by Colin Braun, and it looked as if he'd be able to sustain a potentially race-winning run. But Fogarty got caught up with a backmarker and damaged the nose, later causing several off-course excursions.
Picking up from Fogarty in 9th place after a Lap 47 pit stop, Gurney sliced through the field in the ensuing 30 laps to salvage a top-5 from what could have been a disastrous day for the team's title hopes. Instead, Gurney and Fogarty now find themselves in fifth in the driver's championship, and the GAINSCO team sits sixth in the overall team standings with 10 races to go.
"We had a good result all things considered, but it's a bit disappointing to only get fifth because we had such a fast car," Gurney said. "The drive back through was fun, because it's always nice to be able to pass people. The GAINSCO car was really good off the last corner and under braking, so I could make my passes in Turn 1. It's not easy to pass in these cars, so it's always nice to be able to do it."
Fogarty was disappointed in his own performance, a pain especially acute because he knew from the opening laps just how good a race car the No. 99 machine was.
"I made mistakes, and I apologize for those, and I'm thankful and grateful that Alex was able to bring the GAINSCO Pontiac home with a solid finish," Fogarty said. "Without those mistakes, we would have had a good shot at winning the race -- Alex was going faster than the leaders toward the end. It's still a good result and we moved up in the points, but as a driver, you never want to make mistakes. But I guess we're all human, so we'll go to Laguna Seca and keep pushing for that next win."
Team owner Bob Stallings took a pragmatic outlook -- given the problems, the 99 car could have done much, much worse.
"We're pretty happy with the outcome of the race because we managed to somewhat overcome the problems we had early on," Stallings, who celebrated a birthday today, said. "I thought we really had a nice car all along, and when Jon passed the 75 car I thought we really had something. Then he had a couple offs, and I'm not sure what happened there, but they hurt us in the order and Alex made a nice effort to come back. We got fifth, and with what happened today, that's not a bad result."
The GAINSCO team will next head west to Iowa Speedway, a circuit the series will visit for the first time in July, for a two-day open testing session next week, before resuming the hunt for the Rolex Series championship at the beautiful and historic Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif. Daytona Prototype practice for the Road & Track 250 begins at 10:45 a.m. on May 18, with qualifying set for 11:05 a.m. on May 19. The 112-lap, 250-mile Road & Track 250 gets the green flag at 1 p.m. on the 20th.