GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing looking for second consecutive 2010 GRAND-AM Rolex Series victory Saturday at The Glen WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (August 4, 2010) -- Reigning two-time GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series Champions GAINSCO/Bob Stallings...
GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing looking for second consecutive 2010 GRAND-AM Rolex Series victory Saturday at The Glen
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (August 4, 2010) -- Reigning two-time GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series Champions GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing, and drivers Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty, will be looking for their second 2010 victory in a row this Saturday in the Crown Royal 200 at Watkins Glen International following the team's first season win last month at New Jersey Motorsports Park. The timed two-hour twilight sprint race, which takes place on The Glen's NASCAR short course, can be seen live on SPEED this Saturday, August 7, at 6 p.m. ET/3 p.m. PT.
"The New Jersey win was a big relief and very rewarding for all our efforts this year," said Gurney, who drove the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Chevrolet Riley to the checkered flag. "There is nothing quite like winning a race! It definitely put a spring in the step of everyone on the team. We knew we were closing in on a good showing as our pace has improved quite a bit over the last few races. We're very focused on winning these last three races as well."
Saturday's event kicks off a three-race stretch that will bring the 2010 season to a close in just over one month's time. Another two-hour sprint follows in Montreal later this month before the season-ending race at Miller Motorsports Park in Utah in mid-September.
"We've done well on all of the remaining tracks and have won on all of them but Montreal, although we've been strong there in the past and been on the podium a couple of times," Fogarty said. "We're hitting our stride as a team at the right time, maybe later than we'd like, but we have more of the key elements in place now than we did at the beginning of the year when we were struggling a little. It was good to shake it off and get a victory."
The New Jersey win from the pole - another GAINSCO first this season - helped the team erase the memory of a frustrating season up to that point and established some momentum to carry to The Glen for a race that has been successful for the No. 99 "Red Dragon" in the past. GAINSCO, Gurney and Fogarty won the 2007 Crown Royal 200 from the pole, and finished second the following year and fourth in 2009. The team also achieved an early milestone in 2005 on the Watkins Glen short course when Gurney and team owner Bob Stallings were GAINSCO's original driving duo.
"The first podium for GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing was on The Glen's short course in 2005 when I shared the car with Bob," said Gurney, who joined Stallings in finishing second in what was just the team's fourth race, and first at The Glen. "We had an amazing car that day and looking back, knowing now how hard it is to get on the podium, it seems more impressive now that we arrived on the podium so early in the team's history."
More success in the Crown Royal 200 will also help the team's points situation in the GRAND-AM Rolex Series Daytona Prototype Team Championship. GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing, Gurney and Fogarty won both the team and driver titles last year and in 2007 and finished second in both championships in 2008. Although the rival No. 01 TELMEX/Chip Ganassi Racing BMW Riley team of Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas looks like a lock to win this year's championships, the No. 99 GAINSCO team is a threat for runner-up honors. The No. 99 jumped from fifth to a tie for third with 231 points after the New Jersey win. The "Red Dragon" has also moved to within just nine points of the second place No. 10 SunTrust Ford Dallara of Max Angelelli and Ricky Taylor.
"Second is definitely realistic and that would be a good way to recover from the first half of the season," Gurney said. "We're definitely going to try to win these final races and get second in the championship, and I think that would be a good showing. It would also be a nice bonus to prevent Ganassi from tying our record for wins in a season."
Gurney and Fogarty won a record seven races in 2007's championship season and the Ganassi squad has already amassed six victories this year. Additional victories at The Glen this weekend or in the pair of races that follow could also see GAINSCO join Ganassi as the only repeat Daytona Prototype winners this season.
"I do think we have a car capable of winning in the final three races of the year," Fogarty said. "The competition is super tough and the No. 01 still seems to be on a tear. We have our work cut out for us, but that's fine and the way we like it. The desire to win never goes away and you just have to keep the fire burning and always look for a better finishing position. If you keep that focus, it should pay off and that's what we are shooting for in the year's final races, and really have been all year."
After dealing with a string of mechanical failures in this year's opening races, GAINSCO's turnaround began with a switch to Chevrolet motors built by Earnhardt Childress Racing (ECR) Engines prior to the fifth race of the year at Lime Rock Park in Connecticut on Memorial Day. The New Jersey victory just four races later was also the first for ECR Engines in GRAND-AM Rolex Series competition.
"Working with ECR has been a treat from the beginning," Gurney said. "They've been very responsive, very involved and they've produced a very good, reliable motor in a very short amount of time. The relationship is working very well."
The new Earnhardt Childress relationship may even bring GAINSCO a few new NASCAR fans this weekend. The Glen event is the second and final time this year that the GRAND-AM Rolex Series will share the weekend card with the cars and stars of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. The team's ongoing relationship with Jimmie Johnson, who most recently co-drove the No. 99 with Gurney and Fogarty in the Sahlen's Six Hours when the series made its first visit to The Glen in June, has also helped GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing catch the attention of NASCAR's faithful.
"The talent and skills they bring to the table as race and championship winning teams and drivers is the big benefit, but it's also just very cool to be associated with top names in NASCAR like Jimmie Johnson, Childress and Earnhardt," Fogarty said. "They all want to win just as badly as we do week in and week out."
The Sahlen's Six Hours is run on The Glen's traditional 3.4-mile Grand Prix road course while this weekend's Crown Royal 200 uses the same 2.45-mile NASCAR short course on which both the Sprint Cup and NASCAR Nationwide Series competitors will race.
"Even though we're at Watkins Glen, the tracks are extremely different," Fogarty said. "The short course is super fast, which is fun for a driver, but when you break your momentum it's easier to get shuffled back. But I enjoy both courses and I'm glad we go there twice. Starting up front this weekend is probably more important in a shorter race like this. We definitely want to start close to the front and nail our pit stops - or pit stop."
Yet another twist is the two-hour time limit, which makes the Crown Royal 200 and the following race in Montreal the year's shortest events. Race and pit stop strategy will be as important as ever in both races.
"The two-hour race does mix things up quite a bit for our strategy," Gurney said. "Gambling on strategy could pay off here. The challenge for us on the short course the last few years has also been traffic. If you get caught up in any of those corners, you have some big straights right after and you can really get bogged down."