Gurney and GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing on front Row for Saturday's Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen; GAINSCO And Gurney Post Best Qualifying Result Of 2009 For Saturday's Sahlen's Six Hours WATKINS GLEN, N.Y....
Gurney and GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing on front Row for Saturday's Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen; GAINSCO And Gurney Post Best Qualifying Result Of 2009 For Saturday's Sahlen's Six Hours
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (June 5, 2009) -- Alex Gurney gave GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing its best qualifying effort of the season Friday and will start on the outside of the front row in the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Pontiac Riley in tomorrow's Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen. SPEED's live coverage of the opening two hours of the race begins at 2 p.m. ET (11 a.m. PT) with the final segment beginning at 6 p.m. ET (3 p.m. PT).
Gurney made his first qualifying attempt since the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona and turned a best lap time of 1:41.442 (120.660 mph) to nail down second on the grid. He will share the front row with the pole-winning No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley of Scott Pruett, who clocked in at 1:40.774 (121.496 mph). The No. 01 was also the clear pacesetter in Saturday's morning practice session.
"It was a good qualifying for us," Gurney said. "We figured the 01, after what they did in practice this morning, was going to be super fast. Everybody on the GAINSCO team is just really hungry and when we see a championship in range, we are just all over it. We have some work to do to catch the 01 but maybe out-right pace won't matter as much tomorrow in the race. The 01 aside, there was a group of five cars, really, that I thought were competing for second place, so to end up on the right side of that was pretty satisfying."
GAINSCO's previous best qualifying effort of 2009 was third, which Gurney's teammate Jon Fogarty secured in each of the three races leading up to the Sahlen's Six Hours. Friday's effort was also the best for GAINSCO since Fogarty qualified second in Montreal last August.
"It's a little worrisome, our overall pace relative to the pole time, but it's a six-hour race," Fogarty said. "We are happy to be starting up front. It's going to be a good battle and there are a lot of guys right in there running similar times to us. We feel like the car is good and we just try to make it a little bit better so we have something that can compete come our last stint tomorrow."
The season's only repeat race winners, the No. 99 team and Gurney and Fogarty have 119 points to lead both the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Team and Driver Championships. They are eight points clear of the second place No. 58 Brumos Porsche Riley team of Darren Law and David Donohue, and a full 11 points ahead of the third-place No. 10 SunTrust Ford Dallara of Max Angelelli and Brian Frisselle.
"We are definitely thinking about the championship all of the time, especially because this is a shorter schedule and there are only eight races left," Gurney said. "We just have to score points every time and if we keep it on the track we will probably still have the lead leaving here. It is going to be a long, tough day tomorrow and hopefully we can all keep it clean. Be fast and don't hit anybody -- that's the most important thing."
Weather at The Glen was sunny with temperatures hovering around 70 on Friday, but the GAINSCO team knows that can change in an instant.
"We've seen a mix of reports and it looks like it is going to be good, although the chance of showers has gone up for the afternoon," Fogarty said. "It wouldn't be new as it seems to rain here a lot. We have had great weather up to this point and I wouldn't mind a repeat of today."
Another repeat GAINSCO wouldn't mind would be a team record third victory at The Glen. GAINSCO has never won three races at a single track since entering the Grand-Am Rolex Series in May of 2005.
"The track has such history and winning the longer races gives you a good sense of accomplishment," Fogarty said. "This would definitely be a great place to do a three-peat and it is also the best thing for us in points."
GAINSCO Auto Insurance is also entertaining a key group of agent partners and employees from the company's home state of Texas this weekend at Watkins Glen. Gurney and Fogarty like the extra momentum the strong corporate support brings at any race.
"It seems like GAINSCO guests are always there cheering us on and we love to see that sea of red," Gurney said.