GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Struggles To Eighth In Grand Prix Of Miami
HOMESTEAD, March 5, 2011: GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing, and drivers Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty, persevered through perhaps their most challenging GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series sprint race ever Saturday in the Grand Prix of Miami where race-long tire issues resulted in a disappointing eighth-place finish for the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Chevrolet Riley.
Homestead-Miami Speedway’s 2.3-mile road course configuration is known for being brutally tough on tires, but Saturday’s race produced a new level of frustration despite a seemingly solid setup that Fogarty used to lead the first 12 laps of the 2:45-timed raced after winning the pole in Friday qualifying.
“I think this track has been notorious for chewing up tires, and with the limited practice time you don’t get to do really long runs,” said Gurney, who drove just over the final two hours of the race. “Our car was good for 10 or 15 laps and then it fell off pretty dramatically, and then really just off a cliff at the end. We just cruised around the second stint and just tried to hang on. Got some points I guess. You don’t have time in a race weekend to do a full-tank run, and that’s what we need.”
Gurney climbed to as high as fourth soon after taking over from Fogarty just past the race’s 30-minute mark, but he and the No. 99 GAINSCO “Red Dragon” faded as quickly as their tires did. The first of the two sets Gurney used during his stint saw the rear tires worn clear down to the cord.
“To a certain extent we are seeing residuals off of our uncertainty we had in running all of last year,” Fogarty said. “Several of the team’s, the 01 Ganassi and 10 SunTrust in particular, participated in a minimum of one, and possibly two, Continental tire tests here last year. They definitely had a leg up on us in that department. If we had been able to take part in those tests it would have been hugely beneficial.”
Despite the eighth-place showing and an equally frustrating 12th place finish in January’s season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona, the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Chevrolet Riley moved up five spots to seventh place in the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series Team Championship standings with 42 points.
Round 3 of the 2011 GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series will be the Porsche 250 at Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama, April 7 – 9. Although GAINSCO has won that race twice in the past, the scenic 2.3-mile, 17-turn circuit is another track known for being harsh on tires. The GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing engineering team and crew will likely go to work immediately on developing a setup designed to let their race car and drivers literally go the distance at Barber.
“Barber is the next track that really chews up the tires,” Gurney said. “I can’t think of another track coming that should have a tire issue, other than Barber.”
The Porsche 250 at Barber Motorsports Park will air on SPEED on Sunday, April 10, at Noon ET/9 a.m. PT.