Ready for Return to Site of First Victory This Weekend at Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City
Gurney, Fogarty and Championship GAINSCO Crew Set to Defend Title with Winning Colors
Returning to the site of their first and perhaps one of their greatest victories, GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing and Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Champions Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty head back to Mexico in the thick of the 2008 title chase as the defending winners of the Mexico City 250, which will be run for the fourth time at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez this Saturday, April 19 (Live on SPEED at 4 p.m. ET).
Last year, Gurney took over from front-row starter Fogarty and out-dueled Krohn Racing's Max Papis to score the first Daytona Prototype win for both drivers and the GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing team. The victory ultimately proved to be a springboard to the 2007 Rolex Series Driver and Team Championships, two more first-time achievements for the Dallas-based GAINSCO team and its pair of California-born drivers. In total, the team won six more times — half of 2007's 14 races — in the most dominating Daytona Prototype season in Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series history.
"The Mexico City race will always hold a special place in the hearts of everyone at GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing," Gurney said. "Obviously, last year it was the site of our first win and it felt like we had overcome a huge hurdle when we finally pulled it off. I had a great battle with Max Papis toward the end of the race. I got by him in a traffic situation nearing the finish and just a few laps later he did the same to me. I was trying to get back at him with just a couple laps to go when he slid wide in one of the brake zones and spun off. It was smooth sailing from there."
Fogarty closely tracked early leader and Papis co-driver Colin Braun throughout his opening stint but felt more pressure after handing off to Gurney.
"The win was really gut-wrenching, much worse for me watching it from the outside as opposed to being in the car fighting for it," Fogarty said. "It was actually so bad that I went back to the transporter to change into dry clothes just to get away from it, something I never do. I went back and watched Alex do his thing; he never let the pressure off and it paid off when he took advantage of the Papis mistake. It was a major relief more than anything. I was pretty confident that Alex had it as there were only a few laps left in the race. It was really the same feeling about getting the first win, a big relief. I had always believed it would come, but it really needed to happen sooner rather than later, and getting it early in the season was a big boost after our poor finish at the Rolex 24."
While the team's DNF in the 2007 Rolex 24 left them playing championship catch-up all season despite the Mexico win, this year has presented a much more positive scenario. A strong second-place finish in the 2008 Rolex 24, where stars Jimmie Johnson and Jimmy Vasser co-drove with Gurney and Fogarty, and a sixth-place showing one race ago in the GAINSCO Grand Prix of Miami have the team ranked second in the championship point standings. They head to Mexico with 57 points, just 13 points behind the No. 01 TELMEX/Chip Ganassi Racing team.
"We feel very good about going back to Mexico," Gurney said. "It is much closer to the traditional road courses where we feel we do very well. We're in a great championship position and we're ready to keep building on that."
GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing is primed for a repeat win in Mexico and part of the team's title defense is a return of last year's winning colors. A significant portion of GAINSCO's insurance customers are Hispanic, many of whom have Mexican heritage, and last year the team rolled out a special paint scheme showcasing Mexico's national flag colors when the team arrived for what is considered a "home game" in the culturally rich Mexico City market. The special scheme on the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Pontiac Riley has the familiar red finish complemented by sweeping white and greens stripes that swirl along both sides of the race car. Coupled with the special Mexico theme are Spanish-language "GAINSCO Seguros de Autos" logos on the nose and tail of the No. 99 which speak directly to customers in the growing Hispanic auto insurance market…
The Mexico City race is also an important part of GAINSCO's Por La Comunidad outreach program, which is designed to give something back to the communities in which GAINSCO races in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series and in markets where GAINSCO Auto Insurance is sold. On Wednesday of this week, representatives from GAINSCO will visit and present a donation to Infancia Común (Common Childhood) in Mexico City, an organization that fights the exploitation of women and children and offers help to victims of such crimes. In its second year, Por La Comunidad has made numerous other donations and offered groups race-event experiences, such as a large contingent of primarily Hispanic elementary school students that attended the 2007 Rolex 24 At Daytona…
Fogarty enjoys more than just racing and Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez when visiting Mexico. "Non-racing wise, we don't get much time away from the track, but last year we had some really good food," Fogarty said. "It is also pretty entertaining watching the way traffic works in Mexico City. It is no wonder good drivers come out of there."