Run of Weekend to Qualify Fifth at InfineonGAINSCO Auto Insurance Team Does Well To Crack Top Five after Struggling In Practice
Turning in their best performance so far in a tough weekend at Infineon Raceway, GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing and Jon Fogarty did well to qualify fifth Friday for tomorrow's Armed Forces Grand-Am 250 with a lap time of 1:26.790 (102.454 mph) around the 2.47-mile Sonoma road course.
After practicing seventh Thursday and ranking a distant 11th overall in this morning's only practice session, the GAINSCO crew made some adjustments to the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Pontiac Riley and Fogarty ripped off some quick laps early in the qualifying session. He briefly held the provisional pole early with a lap time of 1:26.861 (102.421 mph) before improving to his best speed of the session on Lap 4. Although the GAINSCO team, Fogarty and teammate Alex Gurney were hoping for more speed at Infineon – where they won the race from the pole last year – they will settle for the top-five effort after some struggles the last two days.
"We've been searching a little bit all weekend," Fogarty said. "A fifth-place qualifying effort isn't totally unexpected in the context of this weekend, although it is definitely not what we anticipated coming into here. This has historically been a good track for us, but we will keep working at it. We're fortunate to have a half hour practice before the race tomorrow and we will try a couple of more things."
Due to limited track time this weekend, Gurney took a rare day off from driving but helped the team and Fogarty throughout Friday.
"It seemed like an okay day and it seemed like we made some progress," Gurney said. "The weekend is not over yet and we will try to make another gain and bring it to the competition in the race."
Fogarty's qualifying laps were the first time this weekend that the No. 99 lapped in the one-minute and 26-second rang, and the first laps in excess of the 102 mph.
"We'll go racing tomorrow, do everything we can and we are right there with who we are in the championship battle with," Fogarty said.
The GAINSCO team and drivers are second in the Rolex Series championship 49 points behind leaders Scott Pruett, Memo Rojas and the No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley, who qualified seventh with Rojas behind the wheel. A repeat win at Infineon would greatly help the GAINSCO squad continue a late-season charge on the championship that began one race ago with the team's third second-place finish of the year in the Crown Royal 200 at The Glen. GAINSCO also has a victory this season at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in June's EMCO Gears Classic.
Saturday's race – Round 12 of 14 on the 2008 Rolex Series schedule – will be 102 laps with a 2-¾ hour time limit. The green flag is scheduled to drop at 3:00 p.m. PT and the race can be seen in next-day coverage on SPEED, Sunday, August 24 at Noon ET.