GAINSCO, GURNEY AND FOGARTY LOOK FOR THIRD WIN AND SIXTH TOP-THREE PODIUM AT THE GLEN WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (August 4, 2009) -- Riding a competitive wave of momentum that has seen the team win a series-leading three races and co-lead the Grand-Am...
GAINSCO, GURNEY AND FOGARTY LOOK FOR THIRD WIN AND SIXTH TOP-THREE PODIUM AT THE GLEN
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (August 4, 2009) -- Riding a competitive wave of momentum that has seen the team win a series-leading three races and co-lead the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Daytona Prototype championship standings, GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing and drivers Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty will be looking for nothing short of another victory Friday in the Crown Royal 200 at The Glen.
Watkins Glen International, in both the short course and full 3.4-mile configurations, has been a successful track for GAINSCO and its drivers since debuting on the Upstate New York road circuit in 2005. Team owner and then-driver Bob Stallings finished second with Gurney in the 2005 Crown Royal 200 to earn the first podium finish for the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Pontiac Riley in just the team's fourth race start. Gurney and Fogarty came back in 2006 to finish second in June's Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen, which is run on the larger layout, and then GAINSCO swept both Glen races from the pole the following season. The team's most recent podium appearance at The Glen was second place in last year's Crown Royal 200.
"Watkins Glen has historically been great to us and the short course has been particularly good," Gurney said. "We've finished first or second in three of the last four years. Our car has been performing very well lately and we feel confident that we can get the setup just right over the short practice day before the race on Friday."
The Rolex Series championship standings have never been closer heading back to Watkins Glen. GAINSCO, Gurney and Fogarty are tied with archrivals Scott Pruett, Memo Rojas and the No. 01 TELMEX/Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley with 216 points in both the Daytona Prototype Driver and Team Championships. Just one point back is the No. 10 SunTrust Ford Dallara and drivers Max Angelelli and Brian Frisselle. With a maximum 35 points available in a Grand-Am Rolex Series race, the 2009 title battle is still wide open as The Glen kicks off a four-race stretch run to the 2009 Rolex Series championships.
"It looks like we've got a four-race championship coming up with three teams essentially tied now," said Gurney, who also won the pole for the 2007 Sahlen's Six Hour. "I think our entire team performs best when under pressure and we will certainly feel it as the season winds down. We're just going to focus on getting maximum points this weekend and hopefully putting on a great show for the NASCAR fans."
GAINSCO and Ganassi had an even bigger lead over SunTrust following the Porsche 250 at Barber but both teams were fined and docked 15 championship points after the race for using pit refueling equipment Grand-Am officials deemed in violation of series rules. Despite the apparent setback, the GAINSCO team is not about to let a penalty stand in the way of their championship bid.
"Our objectives have not changed," Fogarty said. "We need to have the best average finishing position of our competitors these last four races. We have to be fast and without mistakes. We will do everything we can to achieve that and what will be, will be. Penalties like the one we received only make me want it more. It will be a fight to the finish and we have the team to come out on top."
GAINSCO won two of 2009's first four races and then capped a recent run of three consecutive top-three podium finishes with a victory one race ago in the Porsche 250 presented by Legacy Credit Union at Barber Motorsports Park. The earlier race wins came in the Bosch Engineering 250 at Virginia International Raceway in April and the Verizon Festival of Speed presented by SPEEDCOM Communications at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in May, where GAINSCO led the championship standings for the first time this year. The podium showings before the Barber victory were a third-place finish in the EMCO Gears Classic at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and a close second-place finish two weeks later at Daytona International Speedway on the Fourth of July.
A strong result Friday at The Glen will also avenge a rare GAINSCO DNF (Did Not Finish) after a bizarre retirement in this past June's Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen. The No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Pontiac Riley was well positioned in fifth place just under two hours from the finish when No. 58 Brumos Porsche Riley driver David Donohue punted Gurney off course. The contact was relatively light but the race-ending damage was ironically sustained after the incident. Safety crews pulled the No. 99 backwards out of a gravel trap and hooked the bottom of the car on the outer edge of a curb. The floor pan was severely pulled 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 flatbed tow truck. The team was classified a disappointing 16th place and was also forced to miss the next day's test on the 2.45-mile short course.
"Missing that test certainly was not a good thing," Fogarty said. "The short course is very different from the long circuit and it would have been nice to work on a race package during that test. We did make a lot of progress at a Mid-Ohio test later in June, however, and while it is a very different circuit than The Glen short course, I think some things will carry over. We have some great engineers and I think we can come up with a competitive package in the limited amount of running time."
Another twist this weekend is that Rolex Series GT competitors will return to the Crown Royal 200 and race alongside the Daytona Prototypes for the first time in two seasons.
"We've had some classic Grand-Am Rolex Series battles these last few races and, with the addition of the GT cars for this race, I'm sure this one will be no different," Gurney said. "We are looking at another great Watkins Glen race and it is always great to race there."