GAINSCO dominates at The Glen, as Gurney, Fogarty fight back to capture team's second victory in Sahlen's Six Hours WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (June 9, 2007) -- If there were any lingering doubts that GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing could become a...
GAINSCO dominates at The Glen, as Gurney, Fogarty fight back to capture team's second victory in Sahlen's Six Hours
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (June 9, 2007) -- If there were any lingering doubts that GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing could become a consistent threat to win in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series, drivers Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty blew them apart this afternoon at Watkins Glen International, en route to victory in the Sahlen's Six Hours of the Glen. Piloting the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Pontiac-powered Riley, the all-American duo started from the pole and, apart from an early-race off-track excursion, never put a wheel wrong. They combined to lead 91 of the 167 laps of the 3.4-mile road course and became the 2007 season's first repeat winners, as the duo captured their first career Rolex Series victory in February at Mexico City.
In the closing stint, Gurney restarted behind Scott Pruett with 25 minutes left. Just one lap after the green flag dropped, Alex outbraked the No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing machine in Turn 1 and never looked back, taking the checkers 7.069 seconds ahead of Pruett. As team owner Bob Stallings and his GAINSCO team celebrated in Victory Lane for the second time this season, Gurney and Fogarty thanked the squad for a total team effort that provided them with a fast, reliable and consistent racecar that outpaced the field in every session.
"I'm very happy for everyone on the GAINSCO team, because we all did an amazing job all weekend and that enabled Jon and I to capitalize on the really good car they gave us," the second-generation star said. "I have to give (engineer) Kyle Brannan a huge compliment because it's thanks to him that we put together a car that was this fast and this comfortable to drive. I was stoked to be able to get by Scott at the end -- he gave me a great battle but my tires were money and we were just hooked up."
Fogarty said that once the No. 99 GAINSCO Pontiac got into clear track, he was able to speed clear of his competition. A few frustrating full-course yellows punctuated his mid-race stint, but on every restart he quickly pulled away again -- leading 32 laps in all.
"When you run the middle of the race, you don't really pay too much attention to strategies -- you just go out there and put the hammer down, running as fast as you can lap after lap," Fogarty said. "We had the car to beat by far this weekend, but to compete in a six-hour endurance race we knew that we were going to have the make the best of any situation that was thrown our way. We did exactly that, and that's why we came away with a win."
As Fogarty mentioned, the path to victory wasn't a straight shot -- indeed, Gurney in particular faced formidable challenges during his stints. On Lap 35, a slower GT car he was lapping took an unorthodox approach to the Inner Loop, causing Gurney to slide off-course in order to avoid potential contact. He continued at speed with the car undamaged, but the nose intakes had been packed full of grass, forcing an unscheduled, green-flag pit stop to clear them out before the engine began to overheat. That dropped the 99 to 16th, last on the lead lap. With more than four hours left in the race, though, there was plenty of time to mount a comeback charge, and Alex knew he had the car under him to do it.
"I was a little disappointed in myself for that, but I wasn't too worried, because I knew we had plenty of time, the car wasn't hurt and if we played it smart and didn't try to do too much too fast, we could work ourselves back to the front. That's how it played out," Gurney said.
All year long, the GAINSCO Pontiac has been fast -- Gurney and Fogarty have combined for three poles and six front row starts in the six races run this season. The challenge for the team has been converting that raw speed into consistent finishes come race-time, and now the pair believes they're well on their way to reaching that goal.
"We're really maturing in race mode," Fogarty said. "We've gotten the car consistently quick but we know that's not everything, and our job now is to continue to get better in the races and do everything we can to hone each facet of sports car racing. There's a lot to this endurance thing, and we're by no means all there yet, but we're getting closer every weekend. Pontiac is giving us great motors and I'm proud to be able to bring home a win for them. This victory is a real testament to the group that Bob's assembled -- we're all committed to performance and I'm just stoked to be a contributor to a winning organization."
Stallings echoed Fogarty's thoughts on the team's "maturation process" -- which he defined as the point when the team members believe in each other and the team begins to believe in itself. He now sees his team going nowhere but up for the rest of the season.
"We're definitely starting to do what I knew this team could do -- we still have a little ways to go but there's no question about it, if anyone else wants to win in Grand-Am, they're going to have to beat us first," Stallings said. "Everyone on this team did exactly what they had to do -- Kyle gave us a super-fast car right off the trailer, Alex and Jon ran a terrific, smooth and clean race and the crew put together flawless pit stops every time. We're up to third in the points and that means we can start to see our goal, and that's a championship."