Optimism, pragmatism and relief: GAINSCO team ready to start seventh at Sahlen's Six Hours of the Glen WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (June 2, 2006) -- It was with a feeling of relief that Alex Gurney took to the 3.4 mile Watkins Glen International ...
Optimism, pragmatism and relief: GAINSCO team ready to start seventh at Sahlen's Six Hours of the Glen
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (June 2, 2006) -- It was with a feeling of relief that Alex Gurney took to the 3.4 mile Watkins Glen International course this afternoon for the first time in the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Pontiac Riley. Now, Gurney and co-driver Jon Fogarty are ready and waiting to take on tomorrow afternoon's Rolex Sports Car Series Sahlen's Six Hours of the Glen from the seventh spot on the grid.
A legal tussle forced Grand American officials to modify the schedule for the event and the changes quashed the day's scheduled 4:45 p.m. qualifying session. As a result, the grid will line up by team points. After the evening's final practice session, Fogarty said the No. 99 was quick, comfortable and consistent -- three keys for an endurance test of man and machine.
"I was encouraged by the relative ease with which we were able to find the pace, because having a car that's easy to drive will be important for a six-hour event," Fogarty said. "We've got a package that allows us to be relaxed and get into a race pace. However, it's still going to come down to strategy so the GAINSCO team's pit work will be absolutely critical. I know they'll come through with some awesome stops."
Gurney, who will be at the wheel of the No. 99 when the green flag drops at 2:30 p.m., said he was happy to be able to find the right combination of tweaks to get the No. 99 working.
"We got through all of the changes we wanted to get through and I think the car's probably a little bit better than both times we raced at the Glen last year," Gurney said. "The key for us over the first four hours will be hanging around and keeping the car in one piece. Last year, there were nine cars on the lead lap after six hours -- that's pretty impressive and competitive. It's going to come down to who has a car left under them at the end."
Team owner Bob Stallings spoke with a touch of pragmatism and the knowledge that there are no prizes awarded in practice -- but he, too, is feeling upbeat about the weekend.
"I'm really happy with the GAINSCO team -- Jon and Alex are happy with the setup and the car is strong. A lot can change between now and the race, but it's good to know we're going into race day with confidence," Stallings said. "I'm still worried about the Porsches, as they showed some real speed today, but I think we've got a car that can fight for a podium."
Alex and Jon will take on the grueling endurance event tomorrow at Watkins Glen International, as a half-hour final practice session begins at 8:15 a.m. The Sahlen's Six Hours of the Glen will get the green flag at 2:30 p.m., with the checkers falling as night falls, at 8:30 p.m. The race will be televised live on SPEED Channel.