Motorsport News - US
Issue while leading knocks GAINSCO Red Dragon from winning contention
11th June 2012
for second week in a row; team recovers to finish seventh after ECU change
GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing, and drivers Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty, endured a race-leading setback for the second week in a row Saturday in the EMCO Gears Classic at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course where the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Corvette Daytona Prototype lost its power steering and any shot at the team’s first victory of the 2012 season just 30 minutes into the race.
Starting first after a winning a record-extending 21st Daytona Prototype career pole position in Friday’s qualifying session, Fogarty took control of the race from the drop of the green flag. He led the first 17 laps but the No. 99 GAINSCO “Red Dragon” suddenly suffered the power steering failure. Fogarty soldiered on in the stricken car but fell to fourth as he and the GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing team tried to do what they could to fix the car on track.
“It just doesn’t work without power steering,” said Fogarty, who also paced last week’s opening race laps at Detroit from the pole only to have several issues knock GAINSCO from winning contention. “The way these cars are designed is to function with power steering, so without it the car becomes somewhat non-functional. You can muscle it around for a while but it is extremely fatiguing and also quite dangerous because when you have to make a correction you just don’t have the needed ability to correct the steering wheel. We did everything we could and tried to diagnose the problem.”
After several attempts at flipping circuit breakers and tripping various switches didn’t correct the problem, Fogarty pitted for not only a driver change with Gurney but an Electronic Control Unit (ECU) change for the No. 99 Corvette.
“We reset the circuit breakers, we tried to do what we could to fix it while we were in the car, but it was to no avail because it was a failed ECU,” Fogarty said. “When I came in, the first thing they did was to replace the ECU, and they did it in just two laps.”
Gurney rejoined the race two laps down, and with no realistic shot at victory, but turned in nothing short of a winning-performance with the GAINSCO team in the race’s remaining two hours. Gurney repeatedly set fastest race laps and managed to make up one of the two lost laps with some solid calls from the pits and flat-out speed on the track. Gurney’s final fastest overall lap of the race of 1:18.529 (103.513 mph) on lap 90 was nearly a second quicker than the closest competitor.
“It’s a bummer things didn’t go our way again,” Gurney said. “With this car it could have been 2007 all over again. Everything gets an A+ today except that steering thing. These races are incredibly hard to win so you hate to squander one when the car is that good. It is just incredibly disappointing for everybody of the team. Everybody did everything right, but we had a problem with the ECU, a very rare thing but these things are kind of cropping up with us this year. So just a big shame today but, again, we can look to the positive of having a very fast race car.”
GAINSCO, Gurney and Fogarty dominated the 2007 EMCO Gears Classic for one of the team’s most impressive victories and came back the following year to defend the win in a rain-soaked race. The team fell frustratingly short of what appeared to be a likely third Mid-Ohio win Saturday, settling for a seventh-place finish, but still walked away with some positives from the on-track performance and GAINSCO’s teamwork.
“We didn’t get the yellows we needed to get all of the laps back but otherwise a great performance and we had a really fast car,” Fogarty said. “It was definitely calm over the radio; we were just trying to work through it, keep going out there and keep working on it. I tried to keep the pace up as best I could, and lose as little time as possible, so when we did come in we minimized the lost time. It was all we could do and our engineer John Ward was great on the radio, talking Alex through it, trying to gain as much back as we could.”
Next up for GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing is the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series 250 Driven by VISIT FLORIDA at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, June 20 – 23. The weekend’s featured two-hour sprint race can be seen live on SPEED, Saturday, June 23 at Noon EDT/9 a.m. PDT.
- Fogarty will have to wait a few days before returning to his home in Bend, Oregon. The first order of business is a test at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Tuesday. “We are going to Indianapolis for a Continental Tire test,” Fogarty said. “Indy is notoriously rough on tires. I don’t think anybody has ever gone there without their challenges. The diamond grinding on the oval portion is just brutal. Alex tested a tire there last year that he was really happy about and I think we are going to go and just confirm that tire and make sure we have a great product to have a great race when we go there this summer. We are just going to run some laps and work on the Continentals.”
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