Grand Am DP - GAINSCO Corvette Shows Pace, Staying Power At Indy Weekend Session


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INDIANAPOLIS, Jul. 9, 2012: GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing, and drivers Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty, showed both pace and staying power in two days of testing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) last weekend at the wheel of the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Corvette Daytona Prototype.

The special two-day test, last Friday and Saturday, gave GRAND-AM Road Racing teams the chance to get some valuable track time and experience in advance of the inaugural Brickyard Grand Prix on the IMS road course, Friday, July 27, during Kroger Super Weekend at the Brickyard.

The test was run in extremely hot conditions, with temperatures cresting above 100 degrees Friday and Saturday, but that didn’t stop GAINSCO, Gurney and Fogarty from putting in two full days of pre-race preparation. The No. 99 squad proved its pace on Friday when Fogarty set the top time of 1:25.852 (106.257 mph) in the weekend’s first on-track session that morning while Gurney later turned the top lap of the day at 1:24.833 (107.534 mph) in that afternoon’s third and final session. Saturday’s focus shifted from top speed to working through various long-run setup options for the GAINSCO “Red Dragon” in anticipation of the three-hour Brickyard Grand Prix race.

“It was certainly tough in the heat but we did learn a lot,” Gurney said. “We got through a lot of changes and at the very end I think we found a good direction for the race. I think it is going to be very tight at the front. A lot of guys are within a tenth of a second or two, so that last little bit, whichever way you go, is going to make a big difference.”

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The primary purpose of the two-day session was to test the Continental Tires produced specifically for the Indy race. The IMS track surface is known for being hard on tires but the special DPI (Daytona Prototype Indy) tires Continental has provided proved up to the task both days, particularly after the non-stop practice runs put a lot of rubber down on the race track.

“It was HOT but I am happy with what we accomplished at Indy during this two-day test,” Fogarty said. “The Continental ‘I’ tire stood up very well to the brutal conditions, to both the heat and the abrasive track surface. I think if the track holds its ‘seasoning,’ the one-day event should go off nicely.”

Getting the Continentals to last through a full fuel-load stint will be a key to victory in the Brickyard Grand Prix.

“We tried to do longer runs on the tires,” Gurney said. “We were often running with a lot of miles on the tires, just getting a feel for the car. The balance when you get that deep into a run was the main thing we were focusing on Saturday. We had a hard time getting a good, clean run together so maybe there is a little more there.”

GAINSCO’s top lap of the weekend came in Saturday afternoon’s final practice session with a time of 1:24.290 (108.226 mph) that ranked fifth fastest overall in the test. The eight fastest Daytona Prototypes all lapped within one second of each other on the 2.534-mile IMS road course.

“The times at the top of the charts are very, very tight,” Fogarty said. “Although we didn’t end up at the very top I think we are very competitive with speed that puts us in a position to win. I expect to have to adjust to different weather and track conditions on race day, but we ran through some very different setups and feel like we have a good handle on things.”

Although Gurney and Fogarty had to deal with temperatures of around 120 degrees inside the GAINSCO “Red Dragon,” the relatively short testing runs made conditions bearable. The drivers also had ample time to cool down between sessions while debriefing and reviewing data in the office of the GAINSCO team transporter. The GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing crew, however, had few opportunities to escape the heat while working on the No. 99 both during and between practice runs.

“I want to say thanks to our crew,” Fogarty said. “This test wrapped up an extremely long run of races, the guys have been on the road working hard all of June, and this was not an easy test for them by any stretch. It was hot as soon as you walked out of the hotel room in the early morning and it never let up. Alex and I were able to get relief by retreating to the air conditioning in the trailer office between sessions, but not the crew. They deserve a good break here between now and the race.”

Gurney and Fogarty are physically and mentally prepared to deal with the extreme heat if temperatures soar once again on race day at the end of the month.

“We seemed to get our cockpit temps down to a reasonable 120 degrees,” Fogarty said. “Not bad. It will be tough for the 90 minutes or so we each expect to be in the seat during the race, but I think it is about as good as it gets for a car without air conditioning. It was great to be able to get some running in as the race day is going to be very compressed. The track layout and the mixed class running should make for an exciting but hopefully not yellow-flag-filled race. We are looking forward to entertaining a big new crowd.”

The inaugural Brickyard Grand Prix, a timed three-hour race, can be seen live on SPEED, Friday, July 27, at 4 p.m. EDT/1 p.m. PDT, with a scheduled green flag start time of 4:10 p.m. EDT.

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