Grand Am DP - GAINSCO Race Preview Lime Rock
LAKEVILLE, Sep. 26, 2012: Fresh off of a second-place finish in the symbolic 99th race for the No. 99 GAINSCO “Red Dragon” Daytona Prototype three weeks ago, GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing, and drivers Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty, will mark the team’s milestone 100th GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series race this weekend at the season-ending GRAND-AM Road Racing Championship at Lime Rock Park, September 27 – 29.
GAINSCO, Gurney and Fogarty hope to commemorate the centennial start with their first 2012 GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series victory in the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Corvette Daytona Prototype in Saturday’s featured 2-3/4 hour sprint. The finale of this year’s 13-event race schedule, the Lime Rock closer can be seen live on SPEED this Saturday, September 29, at 3 p.m. EDT/12 p.m. EDT.GAINSCO has finished second in each of the last two races – including the 99th race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, September 9 – and last month in the Montreal 200 at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. The No. 99 GAINSCO/BobStallingsCars.com Corvette was also driven to two more second-place finishes at Barber Motorsports Park last March and in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen in early July. While those four runner-up placings are GAINSCO’s best results of the year, a win in Saturday’s season-ending race at Lime Rock will extend for a sixth consecutive year GAINSCO’s record of scoring at least one race victory in a season.
“We obviously want to close out our season with a victory to keep our streak of wins alive in every season since 2007,” Gurney said. “Second place is a good result but it doesn’t feel that good when you think you should be winning! Lime Rock has been tough for us the last couple of years, but we've been learning and we think we now know what it will require to be quick there.”
As good as the four runner-up and six total top-five results have been, GAINSCO’s bid for victory at Lime Rock would likely be a result of the team’s best top-to-bottom performance of the year.
“Montreal was quite a good race although we just did not have the pace of the (winning) No. 01 BMW,” Fogarty said. “Other than that I feel we executed quite well. Laguna we had the fastest car but we had some issues in other areas. So while we had strengths in each event I actually don’t feel like we have really nailed any race weekends this year. There is a lot of moving parts on a race team and perfection is hard to attain. I feel like we have the personnel and have been in a position to win several times this year if it wasn't for some truly honest bad luck. I am ready for Lime Rock to be our weekend to showcase our abilities.”
GAINSCO, and the driving duo of Gurney and Fogarty, finished fourth from fifth on the grid at Lime Rock last year and sixth after qualifying third in the debut Daytona Prototype race on the 1.53-mile Connecticut road course in 2010.
“Lime Rock presents many challenges,” Fogarty said. “It is short, fast and has almost all right hand corners so having a car that works handling wise is critical. Having said that, horsepower is always an advantage, as well as the rev-limit or "red line" of the motor, the more revs you have the more flexibility you have with gearing. Unfortunately, the series has required the Chevrolet to have less revs than any other motor and that makes our lives difficult at many tracks gearing wise, Lime Rock included. We always have very good, reliable and very consistent motors from ECR and are confident that we are right at the edge of the performance envelope that the rules allow.”
GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing debuted the first Chevrolet motor ECR (Earnhardt-Childress Racing) Engines built for the Daytona Prototype division at the 2010 Lime Rock Park race.
“The ECR organization has been very professional over the years, they are extremely good at what they do, and I think we are very lucky to have them,” Gurney said. “They started with a big headwind with a two-valve motor and not as much revs as the four valves but have managed to always still stay in the hunt. I think handling will be the big key this weekend although horsepower never hurts!”
A victory Saturday gives GAINSCO a chance to celebrate its milestone 100th race after coming up just short of victory in the 99th start. GAINSCO has racked up a solid record of success since debuting in the GRAND-AM Rolex Series in 2005, highlighted by Daytona Prototype Team and Driver Championships in 2007 and 2009. The team has won 15 races, all with Gurney and Fogarty at the wheel, as part of a run of 54 top-five finishes in GAINSCO’s first 99 races. That finishing record includes an amazing tally of 42 top-three podium results comprised of 16 runner-up placings, 11 third-place showings and the 15 victories.
In addition to the solid career race results record, the No. 99 has also shined in qualifying since its partial debut season in 2005. The No. 99 GAINSCO “Red Dragon” has been driven to 28 pole positions in the last 99 races, including the team’s first with Gurney in just its third race at Barber Motorsports Park in the debut year. Gurney has five career poles at the wheel of the “Red Dragon” while Fogarty owns the other 23 top-qualifying efforts – including four this year – as the all-time Daytona Prototype career pole leader for the last several seasons.
Fogarty’s 2012 poles in the No. 99 came at Montreal, Detroit Belle Isle, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and in the inaugural Brickyard Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
A race win and a pole at Lime Rock would be GAINSCO firsts.
“As a team I feel as though we have learned a lot about Lime Rock in our past two visits,” Fogarty said. “That combined with what we have learned about the 2012 Corvette will put us in a good position to win. We have not been extremely quick in the previous runs at Lime Rock, but we are certainly looking to change that this weekend.”A two-day event, the Rolex Series schedule for the GRAND-AM Road Racing Championship weekend begins with practice on Friday. Saturday’s schedule begins with a rare race-day qualifying session that is the only on-track Rolex Series activity before the featured 2-3/4 hour race that starts at 3 p.m. local time.
“I don't think any of us are happy with the results from this year and it’s very hard for us to put our fingers on something specific that has held us back,” Gurney said. “We have been in position to win several times but have run into some very strange circumstances. A win to close out the season would definitely give the ‘Red Dragon’ some momentum going into next year!”