Ready for Rolex 24 At Daytona
GAINSCO's Productive Day Before the 24 Follows Solid Run in Thursday Night Practice
A solid showing in Thursday's night practice and even more productive test sessions on Friday have GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing and its stable of Champion Drivers Alex Gurney, Jon Fogarty, Jimmy Vasser and Jimmie Johnson ready to go for this weekend's 47th Annual Rolex 24 At Daytona, which starts Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET (Live on FOX at 3 p.m. ET).
Stallings and the team's all-American drivers also received a strong send-off and show of support from an enthusiastic group of GAINSCO Board members, employees and their independent agent partners Friday in a special dinner held at The Shores Resort and Spa in Daytona Beach. The group will also attend the Rolex 24 from start to finish and that kind of support goes along way with everybody on the GAINSCO team.
"It has become a tradition here in Daytona and for the fourth time we got together over by the beach to show our appreciation for the group that really makes it all happen," said Vasser, who has been a part of GAINSCO's Rolex 24 team since its first race here in 2006. "Selling GAINSCO Insurance keeps this car going and we always look forward to this night and the support of this group all day through the race."
The team was also encouraged with its on-track performance in the practice sessions that followed Thursday afternoon's 11th place qualifying effort. The No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Pontiac Riley ran solidly in the Top 10 in Thursday's night's practice and then clocked in third fastest in Friday morning's opening session. The team closed Friday's schedule with an equally strong sixth-fastest overall lap time in the final practice before this weekend's race.
"We are ready to go," said Gurney, who will be GAINSCO's starting driver tomorrow. "We are all really excited to get this thing kicked off. We actually made a gain today. I only drove a few laps in the afternoon session, we did a few last minutes systems checks and we did a lot of driver changes. Everyone is feeling good and happy that we made another step forward today."
After Gurney starts, he will hand off to NASCAR star Johnson. Vasser will drive third in the order and Fogarty will complete the rotation, which will allow him to hand the GAINSCO car back to Gurney as they do in the majority of races.
"I feel great and I am just looking forward to getting this thing underway," Fogarty said. "With another year of this under our belt, I have a little bit more perspective on the way this race tends to operate, so I feel good about everything. The car is running well and we are prepared. That's as much as you can hope for in a 24-hour race."
While overall starting position doesn't matter much in a 24-hour race, GAINSCO has the slight of advantage of moving up a couple of spots on the grid for the Rolex 24. The No. 6 Michael Shank Racing Ford Riley (width infraction) and the No. 22 Alegra Motorsports BMW Riley (height infraction) had their qualifying times disallowed and the No. 99 will now start ninth in tomorrow's race.
The 47th annual Rolex 24 At Daytona starts Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET. FOX will air the first 90 minutes of the Rolex 24 broadcast starting at 3 p.m. ET before the live coverage switches over to SPEED for the balance of the race.