Gurney, Fogarty and GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing suffer rare DNF in Saturday's Grand-Am Rolex Series Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen GAINSCO classified 16th in Daytona Prototypes after strong comeback goes for naught WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (June 6,...
Gurney, Fogarty and GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing suffer rare DNF in Saturday's Grand-Am Rolex Series Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen
GAINSCO classified 16th in Daytona Prototypes after strong comeback goes for naught
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (June 6, 2009) -- A seldom seen DNF (Did Not Finish) and an even rarer reason for it capped a frustrating day for GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing and drivers Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty in Saturday's Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen where the team was classified 16th after retiring just past the four hour mark.
After great team strategy and hard-charging stints by both drivers saw the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Pontiac Riley climb back into the top five after an early setback, disaster struck just minutes after Gurney took the wheel for the final time. What was supposed to be a two-hour battle to the finish instead turned into a race-ending trip into the Glen's Turn 13 gravel trap. Gurney was just settling in for his stint when David Donohue tried to squeeze his No. 58 Brumos Porsche Riley past Gurney. Donohue instead hit the No. 99, which sent the GAINSCO car spinning off course.
The contact was relatively light but the race-ending damage was ironically sustained after the incident. In an apparent miscue, safety crews tending to the stuck No. 99 pulled the GAINSCO machine backwards out of the gravel trap. The bottom of the No. 99 hooked on the outer edge of the Turn 13 curbing, which rolled the floor pan back to the point that it resembled an open sardine can. GAINSCO's race was over and the stricken No. 99 was taken back to the paddock on a flat-bed tow truck.
"It was just an all around forgettable day," said Gurney. "We were reasonably competitive and thinking about the championship, but we just had a lot of things go wrong today. We were running fifth and we were in good shape -- it was just unfortunate."
The end result was particularly frustrating considering GAINSCO overcame a three-lap deficit after making four pit stops in the race's first hour. Gurney reported a bad vibration after his first pit stop at the 40 minute mark and pitted three more times in quick succession as the GAINSCO crew zeroed in on the problem. A couple of bolts had worked loose in the right front suspension upright but the problem was quickly corrected and the team spent the remainder of the race's first half getting back on the lead lap.
"We had our own issues at the very beginning of the race," said Fogarty, who passed six cars within 30 minutes to move to fifth place late in the race's fourth hour. "When you go down some laps and it's your own fault, you beat yourself up, but the team did a really good job, strategy wise, of making those positions back. We were just happy coming towards the end of the race, we really overcame a lot and rectified our own mistakes. Then somebody else makes a mistake and it kind of ruins your day and it kind of stings a little bit more because there is really nothing you can do about it. It's just unfortunate, but I think we did a good job working our way back up into a good points position before things really turned south."
Despite one of GAINSCO's worst days since entering the Grand-Am Rolex Series, they are still in the thick of the 2009 championship chase. They had come to The Glen with an eight-point lead in the standings but now trail Sahlen's Six Hours top finishers Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas (No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley) and Max Angelelli and Brian Frisselle (No. 10 SunTrust Ford Dallara), who are tied with 140 points apiece. Pruett and Rojas won Saturday's Sahlen's Six Hours and Angelelli and Frisselle finished second. GAINSCO, Gurney and Fogarty now have 134 points.
"The points situation coming out of here is not too bleak so we will head to the next round and give it our all," Fogarty said. "Mid-Ohio is a cool place, and one of our favorites. Points at Mid-Ohio are the same as points here, so we are looking forward to getting there, and it is coming right up."
GAINSCO, Gurney and Fogarty will be shooting for a record third consecutive win in the EMCO Gears Classic at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Saturday, June 20.