for Late-Season Rally and a Return to Winning Friday at The Glen
Reigning Race and Rolex Series Champs Gurney and Fogarty Look for Repeat Glen Win
Undeterred by an uncanny run of bad luck and equally determined to end the 2008 season on a high note, defending Crown Royal 200 race winners and reigning Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Champions GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing, and drivers Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty, return to Watkins Glen International this Friday ready to mount a late-season rally in the final four races of the year.
The Crown Royal 200 sprint is scheduled for 82 laps with a two-hour time limit and joins last week's Montreal 200 as one of the two shortest races of the season. The green flag is scheduled to drop at 6:30 p.m. ET and the race, which will be run on 8-8-08, is appropriately schedule to air on SPEED in same-day coverage at 8 p.m. ET.
After scoring a record seven wins in last year's championship season, GAINSCO has a single 2008 win in June's EMCO Gears Classic at Mid-Ohio to its credit heading back to The Glen. The team has led several other races and been on pace this season for more victories, but virtually every type of misfortune a racing team can encounter at the track has hit the GAINSCO squad this season. All on the team are ready to put an end to the down times this weekend.
"It's amazing the number of races that we really should have won, where we had a car to win and we were in the lead when something totally out of our control happens," said team owner Bob Stallings. "I realize it is all racing and it is what it is. We just have to bounce back and we will."
Like Stallings, Fogarty and Gurney know the team has what it takes to turn the corner.
"This team has proven in the past that once we get on a rally we are hard to stop," said Fogarty, who joined Gurney in leading all but one of the 82 laps in the 2007 Crown Royal 200. "We have been so close to breaking out so many times this year and we all know we can still get there. We have four races left and anything can happen."
In addition to a dominating Crown Royal 200 run on The Glen's NASCAR short course last year, GAINSCO also had a strong test on the track following the Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen in June. The six-hour is run on the traditional 3.4-mile Watkins Glen long course while the annual August sprint takes place on the shorter 2.45-mile course, on which NASCAR's Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series will also compete this weekend. The Glen event marks the second and final time this year that the Rolex Series will share the card with its NASCAR cousins.
"The test after the Sahlen's Six Hour was pretty good," Fogarty said. "It is going to be a tough race. It is another two-hour race and in a way those are more difficult, and there will be a lot of fast cars there too. Making one pit stop like we saw at Montreal may not be an option because you run wide open for so long and burn a lot of fuel. We really don't like the tracks that are wide open for a long time. That doesn't help us out, but we will be in a good position. We know what to do to make sure we get down those straights as best we can. We have to focus on the race and not worry necessarily about outright pace there."
GAINSCO's strong track record at Watkins Glen is also encouraging. Although engine problems knocked the team out of contention for the win and to an eighth-place finish after leading this year's Sahlen's Six Hour, GAINSCO won the endurance race last year and finished second in 2006.
"I feel good heading back to the Glen; it has always been good to us" Gurney said. "It has definitely got some long straights but we should be good. We are always competitive there and we saw again at Montreal that the car is very good. I feel good about it."
Despite the myriad of setbacks, GAINSCO is still factoring in the Rolex Series Championships this season. The No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Pontiac Riley is second in the team championship with 258 points. The same number of points also has Gurney and Fogarty with the second highest total in the Rolex Series Driver Championship. Scott Pruett, Memo Rojas and the No. 01 Chip Ganassi Lexus Riley team have 321 points to lead both championships.
For the second-consecutive year, Oregon-resident Fogarty stayed on the East Coast between last week's event in Montreal and Friday's race at The Glen. "Our Engineer Kyle Brannan and I drove to New York from Montreal," Fogarty said. "I spent a couple of days hanging out in the Finger Lakes area and did some hikes and just enjoyed the region. I think it's a beautiful place and it was nice to just kick back. It is a long flight back to the West Coast, so staying here between races was nice."…
A hands-on owner who also finished second with Gurney in the 2005 Crown Royal 200 at The Glen to highlight his driving days with the GAINSCO team, Stallings is usually present at all team test sessions. That included the Monday test after the Sahlen's Six Hours in June, and Stallings was encouraged by what he saw. "The car was absolutely money at that Monday test," Stallings said …
Although official times were not distributed, the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Pontiac Riley was third-fastest at the test according to pit-side scoring monitors …
The Crown Royal 200 is the first of back-to-back Rolex Series Daytona Prototype feature races. The next event at Infineon Raceway, August 23, also features just the Daytona Prototype class.