Motorsport News - US
Alex Gurney, Jon Fogarty looking for first 2012 win in GAINSCO Red Dragon
7th June 2012
GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing shooting for third EMCO Gears Classic victory at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course this weekend
GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing, and drivers Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty, return to a favorite track set to turn their season around this weekend in the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Corvette Daytona Prototype at the EMCO Gears Classic at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, June 8 – 9. The 2-3/4-hour timed race can be seen live on SPEED this Saturday, June 9, at 4:30 p.m. EDT/1:30 p.m. PDT.
GAINSCO, Gurney and Fogarty are looking for their third team victory at Mid-Ohio, to go along with 2007 and 2009 EMCO Gears Classic triumphs, as well as their first win of the 2012 GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series season. The team rallied last Saturday in Detroit for a fourth-place finish – GAINSCO’s second-best showing of the year – but believed they had a car that could have won for the second consecutive race.
Both times, in Detroit and at the preceding race at New Jersey Motorsports Park, on-track contact, some questionable calls and other issues combined to cost GAINSCO a shot at victory. Mid-Ohio could be just what the team needs to turn its season around.
“Mid-Ohio is definitely a GAINSCO track,” Gurney said. “We've had a couple of wins there and several poles. Our season didn’t get any better in Detroit but we can still take the positive that our car is very competitive and I think we improved again at Detroit as far as outright speed. We actually gained a bit to the leaders points-wise too so we are not out of this thing yet. A lot of people have written us off at this point but we believe the 20 point deficit to the front is still attainable.”
Fogarty, GAINSCO’s usual qualifier, has three career Daytona Prototype poles at Mid-Ohio, including last year’s race, while Gurney captured what was then just the team’s second career pole on the Buckeye track in 2005. Fogarty’s other Mid-Ohio poles were in 2007 and 2009.
“Both Jon and I love that track and the car has been quick from the moment we rolled off the truck in our first race there way back in 2005,” Gurney said. “We've got so much Mid-Ohio experience now in all different conditions that we're hopefully not leaving much on the table. There's a great atmosphere there of die-hard road racing fans. I can't wait to hit the track!”
Fogarty won GAINSCO’s first pole of the season in Detroit, and the record-extending 20th of his career, and led the first 19 laps of the race. GAINSCO appeared to be the team to beat but a faulty door latch created a delay during the first pit stop and even more time was lost in a later stop amid the confusion of a “pit-closed” radio call by race officials. One race prior to Detroit in New Jersey, Gurney was battling for the win in the race’s late stages only to be knocked out by rival Scott Pruett.
“Very happy to be going to a track like Mid-Ohio where the 99 has always proven to be fast,” Fogarty said. “I am also happy to be going there so soon as well. We have had a very quick car on the more technical courses this year and Mid-Ohio falls into that category, so I am anxious to get back at it and get our first win. We have been in a great position in the last two races only to have things beyond our control take us out of contention. It is great to be able to have another shot at it so soon and at such a great track. The GAINSCO team is ready.”
Mid-Ohio continues a grueling stretch of four races in five weeks that began in Detroit. The only off weekend of the month follows Saturday’s EMCO Gears Classic but another back-to-back stretch at Road America and Watkins Glen closes out June.
“This is a very important stretch of the championship,” Gurney said. “This thing could be won or lost right here in the next few weeks. Leaving the concrete confines of Detroit, it definitely is a plus that we got out of there without much damage to the car.”
Although the No. 99 had its fair share of battle scars from the Detroit race, the GAINSCO “Red Dragon” remains intact and more than ready for the next three races.
“Always good to come out of a street course without having had a run in with a concrete wall,” Fogarty said.
The crew will be put to the test in June so it is good that they are not going to be burned out by race number two repairing some damage from Detroit. We still need to be careful because the Corvette bodywork is not exactly made for our Riley chassis, so there is no such thing as a quick fix.”
Gurney and Fogarty, and the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Corvette Daytona Prototype, currently rank seventh in the respective GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series Driver and Team Championships with 122 points, just 20 points shy of the leaders.
“Mid-Ohio is a downforce track but I am not sure that is the best way to race,” Fogarty said. “The straight at Mid-Ohio is long and the braking zone is a classic passing area. We will have to figure our race configuration out closer to race time, but for all out elapsed time, you need downforce at Mid-Ohio and the Corvette has it.”
Following practice and qualifying on Friday, race-day Saturday starts with final practice that morning at 8:40 a.m. before that afternoon’s race at 4:30 p.m. local time.
- Although it is a tight turn around between Detroit and Mid-Ohio, both Gurney and Fogarty traveled back to their respective West coast homes. Gurney lives in Irvine, California with his wife Colleen and two young daughters while Fogarty and his wife Sara reside in Bend, Oregon with their young son and daughter. “It’s nice getting a few days at home during this long stretch,” Gurney said. “My little two-year-old girl Savannah grows so quickly at this age and even looks different when I come back from being gone for only a week!” The coast-to-coast travel takes its toll on Fogarty but he is well aware that his wife doesn’t exactly have it easy when he is gone. “It is tough with the kids out of school to be gone,” Fogarty said. “It puts a lot on the wife’s plate, and summer is short and we want to do stuff with our families. The calendar this summer is pretty packed, but all of it is fun stuff. July is looking good for some quality summer family time.”
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