First visit to The Glen produces runner-up result for GAINSCO/Blackhawk WATKINS GLEN, N.Y.- With a strong performance from Bob Stallings and a stunning drive by Alex Gurney, both drivers of the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Pontiac Riley...
First visit to The Glen produces runner-up result for GAINSCO/Blackhawk
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y.- With a strong performance from Bob Stallings and a stunning drive by Alex Gurney, both drivers of the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Pontiac Riley ascended to their very first podium celebration in Rolex Sports Car Series competition after scoring a second-place finish in today's CompUSA 200 at the Glen at Watkins Glen International.
The pair was all smiles in Victory Lane as the No. 99 team celebrated their achievement - coming in just the team's fourth Rolex Series race. Stallings started the race from 21st position, but didn't stay there long - as he passed two cars in the tricky, tight Turn One on the first lap. Bob continued to click off competitive laps and brought the car up to 16th place. With a yellow coming on Lap 12, engineer Kyle Brannan called Bob in to pit immediately, where the GAINSCO crew, led by crew chief Mark Lubin, executed a flawless driver change stop putting Alex behind the wheel.
"Yesterday was the first time I'd seen the track in my life, and I was a little intimidated when I first went out," Stallings said. "But Alex did a great job coaching me, getting my lap times up and by racetime I was comfortable with the car. My plan all along was to do what I needed to do until we could get Alex in the car and just watch him fly."
That strategy soon paid off, as Gurney worked rapidly through the field, and a caution on Lap 40 gave the team a chance to make it to the end on fuel. Quick action brought the car in and sent Alex back out in third place - right behind the No. 10 car of Max Angelelli.
For the next 14 laps, Gurney, Angelelli and the No. 01 of Scott Pruett were locked in battle, but on Lap 55 Gurney seized second place from Pruett with a spectacular four-wide dive for the apex of Turn One. From there to the end of the race, Alex chased after Angelelli but couldn't quite close the distance, and the GAINSCO car flew under the checkers on Lap 75 just seven- tenths of a second behind the No. 10.
Gurney said the team's strategy gave him the opportunity he needed to challenge for a victory.
"This was just an awesome day. The yellows fell when we needed them and our race strategy simply played out exactly how we figured it," Gurney said. "We were right on pace with everyone and to be on the podium in just our fourth race, well, we couldn't be happier."
As for Bob, his confidence in the team and its future grew even stronger. "I knew we could do this. Everything just went right today," Stallings said. "I'm just stoked at how far we've come so fast. We've got a great crew, a great car, a great Pontiac engine and a great driver in Alex Gurney. I couldn't be happier with what we've done together so far - and I can't wait to watch what we're going to do the rest of the season."
The GAINSCO team will return to their Indianapolis shops to prepare the car for the next Rolex Sports Car Series race, the EMCO Gears Road Racing Classic at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, set for Saturday evening, Aug. 27. The two-hour, 45-minute race in Lexington, Ohio will go green at 5:30 p.m. Central time, and be broadcast on SPEED Channel on a tape-delayed basis, Sunday at noon Eastern, 9 a.m. Pacific.