GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing, Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty fight for fourth-place finish in tough Crown Royal 200 Rolex Series race at The Glen WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (August 7, 2009) -- A caution-filled Crown Royal 200 Friday night at Watkins Glen...
GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing, Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty fight for fourth-place finish in tough Crown Royal 200 Rolex Series race at The Glen
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (August 7, 2009) -- A caution-filled Crown Royal 200 Friday night at Watkins Glen International saw GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing and drivers Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty work through some complex pit strategies and heavy traffic to take a hard-earned fourth-place finish. It was the fourth straight top-five finish and fifth in the last six races for the GAINSCO team which remains in the thick of the 2009 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Daytona Prototype Team and Driver Championship standings.
Starting from the pole after setting a new track record Thursday in qualifying, Fogarty led the race's opening five laps but soon fell victim to the heavy traffic that plagued GAINSCO the entire race. The Rolex Series GT class rejoined the faster Daytona Prototypes in the Crown Royal 200 for the first time in two years and quickly became a factor in the race. GAINSCO and several other top teams also tried some tricky pit strategies and the No. 99 alone made three stops within the race's first 50 minutes.
"There was a lot going on," Fogarty said. "Nobody really had a strategy that necessarily was the right one. It was complicated for such a short race and it was a pretty crazy race, really. The GT traffic was also the really difficult thing for me."
No. 01 TELMEX/Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley driver Memo Rojas slipped by Fogarty in traffic to take the race lead on Lap 6 and that team ultimately finished two spots ahead of GAINSCO in second place. The No. 01, Rojas and his teammate Scott Pruett now have a four point lead in the Rolex Series standings over GAINSCO, Gurney and Fogarty, 248 -- 244.
"We had several issues today," Gurney said. "The strategy got a little bit messed up because there were so many yellows in the beginning and we ended up having to go on the same strategy as the Ganassi team even though we had made another pit stop. So we came out behind them and lost any advantage that we would have had. When it went green again it seemed like the car was pretty good and I had a little something for the front guys, but as the race wore on, the car got more difficult. We were lacking in straight line speed also, so that made it kind of tough, in addition to just really getting no breaks in traffic -- some really bad breaks in traffic pretty consistently. Tough day, but it could have been worse points wise. I am glad we survived it."
GAINSCO ultimately made four pit stops in the two-hour timed race that was slowed by four full-course caution periods that accounted for 13 laps and nearly a quarter of the event. The race's lack of rhythm combined with the traffic to make for a difficult day.
"Neither Alex nor I were getting good breaks in traffic, and it seems like that sort of thing snowballs," Fogarty said. "You get your momentum broken and sometimes it goes your way and sometimes it doesn't. Generally it evens out over the course of a race, but not always. Today it just seemed to be tough for us. We expected that at this track, but I think we got the rough end of it."
GAINSCO also appeared to be giving up a little horsepower to the competition on the fast Watkins Glen 2.45-mile short course.
"We have done everything we can within the rules to maximize our motor," Fogarty said. "The motor is capable of much more if they would allow it. It's tough because we have a great team and we are capable of finishing up front even with that deficiency. Everybody is working hard to go fast but we have to extra risks to try and get the speed out of our car, and we just can't rely on getting down the straightaways. You can never get alongside anybody and that makes it really difficult to pass."
While GAINSCO had its struggles, the team's other championship rival had a much tougher day. The No. 10 SunTrust Ford Dallara of Brian Frisselle and Max Angelelli finished 12th after a late race flat tire that was the result of an earlier contact incident. After coming into the race just one point behind GAINSCO and Ganassi in the championship, SunTrust is now 14 points out of first and 10 points behind the No. 99 with 234 points.
"Big picture wise, it's really not too bad," Gurney said. "We only lost four points to the 01 and gained quite a bit on the 10 and the other cars. We are still in good shape and still the championship fight is on. We will take it to the next one."
Next up for the Rolex Sports Car Series is the Montreal 200 at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, Quebec, Canada on Saturday, August 29.
"We were real good at Montreal last year," Fogarty said. "It is a pretty cool circuit and we are going to keep working to improve the car. We are looking forward to getting back up top in the next couple of races."