Grand Am Prototypes - Gurney, Fogarty Hope Corvette Daytona Prototype Key To First Miami Win
MIAMI, April 24, 2012: GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing, and drivers Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty, will have the support of more than 100 GAINSCO employees and their families at this weekend’s Grand Prix of Miami, where the team will look for its first career victory at Homestead-Miami Speedway in the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Corvette Daytona Prototype. The weekend’s featured Grand Prix of Miami, a timed 2-3/4-hour sprint race, can be seen live on SPEED Sunday, April 29, at 1 p.m. EDT/10 a.m. PDT.
Although GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing has seen some success on the Miami circuit – including clinching the 2009 GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series Championship, a third-place race finish in 2010, and poles last year and in 2009 – the challenging 2.3-mile Homestead road course has successfully shut out the No. 99 squad since they first tackled the venue in 2006. The six-year winless drought at Homestead-Miami is GAINSCO’s longest at any track on the GRAND-AM Rolex Series circuit.“We’ve still never won at Homestead and I think that bothers all of us,” Gurney said. “We really want to figure out how to make the tires last here! Continental is bringing a new tire just for this race and, having sampled it last year at the Indy test, I think it is going to be much better endurance-wise. We’ve worked hard on a lot of fronts during the long breaks between these first few races and I think it’s going to start paying off here as we start the regular season.”
GAINSCO shook off a disappointing 13th-place result in the season-opening Rolex 24 to score a second-place finish one race ago at Barber Motorsports Park. It was GAINSCO’s best result to date in just its second race in the team’s new Corvette Daytona Prototype. Gurney, GAINSCO’s usual closing driver, crossed the finish line at Barber just 2.3 seconds behind the winning No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Corvette Daytona Prototype that is similar to the No. 99 “Red Dragon.”
“We were more competitive at Barber this year than in the past several, and our gap to the 90 car this year at Barber was considerably smaller than in 2011,” Fogarty said. “Both of those are positives and, if you use Barber as a barometer for the season, you could say our performance is trending toward the positive. The new Corvette bodywork appears to be very strong in the high-downforce configuration, but the Riley has been given some adjustments post-race, so what ‘good’ is may be a moving target. But in any case, we’re happy with the balance we achieved in the high-downforce settings.”
GAINSCO and its drivers are also happy with the strong show of onsite support expected for Sunday’s race. More than 100 Miami-based GAINSCO Auto Insurance employees and their families took advantage of a special Grand Prix of Miami ticket offer organized by GAINSCO and Homestead-Miami Speedway.
“They are due for a ‘Red Dragon’ win on Sunday,” Gurney said. “I am looking forward to seeing all the GAINSCO fanatics down in Miami! They are so passionate about our race team, it’s fabulous to see.”
Gurney and Fogarty are also scheduled to visit GAINSCO’s Miami regional headquarters Wednesday, where they will unveil the new No. 99 Corvette Daytona Prototype to the employees that morning.
“Having the employees from GAINSCO at the race is always great,” Fogarty said. “They are such huge supporters and being able to compete on their behalf gives us extra motivation. Racing has become a big part of the GAINSCO organization and that is apparent the moment you step inside the GAINSCO offices. The race team could not achieve the success it has without GAINSCO Auto Insurance and each and every one of the employees. I am grateful for all the hard work they put in and welcome them at the track. Having a big cheering section is awesome, and GAINSCO employees are never afraid to show their colors.”
GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing has been working on the winning setup for Homestead-Miami since the checkered flag dropped at Barber.
“This track has a lot of slow-speed, first-gear corners, so traction on exit is very important,” Gurney said. “Horsepower always makes things easier, and with the long pull from the hairpin all the way around to Turn 1, that power will be key to winning on Sunday.”
Fogarty, who usually qualifies as GAINSCO’s sprint race starting driver, has given the No. 99 front-row starting berths in four of the last five races at Homestead, including the last three. The run includes the poles last year and in 2009, and second-place qualifying efforts in 2010 and 2007.
“We had the pace last year as qualifying showed, but the car would not run quick over a stint,” Fogarty said. “It was too hard on the tires. We now know why and will be able to use that info to our advantage. Despite our race record at Homestead, I’m always optimistic heading into the race weekend. The GAINSCO team is always up for a challenge and Homestead has always given us one. I think what we learned last year will be very helpful in allowing us to come up with a race-ready car.”
The runner-up result at Barber moved GAINSCO and its drivers back into the 2012 GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series Team and Driver Championship picture. Both the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Corvette Daytona Prototype and the Gurney and Fogarty duo rank fifth in the respective championships with 50 points, just five points behind rivals Scott Pruett, Memo Rojas and TELMEX/Chip Ganassi Racing, who finished third at Barber, and only 10 points out of first place.
“After a tough outing at Daytona, it was good to get our championship back on track with a podium at Barber,” Gurney said. “We’re really starting to understand what this car likes and we all continue to have high hopes for the regular season races. The No. 90 car put the hurt on everyone at Barber but we’ll get plenty of chances to return the favor.”
Gurney recently took part in a media tour to promote June’s Chevrolet Belle Isle Grand Prix in Detroit and the highlight was throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at a Detroit Tigers baseball game. “Getting a chance to throw the first pitch out at the Tigers game was something I obviously will never forget,” Gurney said. “What an opportunity! I really don’t know how I got so lucky!”
A big part of the successful result one race ago at Barber was the addition of veteran Race Engineer John Ward, who debuted with GAINSCO that weekend. “Another big positive at Barber was the performance of our new engineer John Ward,” Fogarty said. “The car was good, the strategy was good and the communication between everyone on the team was very fluid. I don’t think there are any major issues to improve upon with our current package, but as tight as the racing is, we just need to fine-tune the balance of the car. Getting it just right is critical to both lap times and tire longevity.”