Alex Gurney tops opening practice Thursday for Saturday’s Montreal 200

No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Chevrolet Riley team looking for first Montreal win 

GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing and Alex Gurney paced opening practice Thursday at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve for Saturday’s Montreal 200 with a top lap time of 1:33.706 (104.074 mph) in the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Chevrolet Riley. The timed two-hour Montreal 200 sprint is scheduled to start at 11:15 a.m. local time this Saturday, August 20, and can be seen in same-day coverage on SPEED at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT.

“We’re pretty happy,” Gurney said. “I think we rolled off the truck pretty quick and just kept making little gains, a good day overall. You never know what everyone else is doing but it was a pretty good day for us.  We made a lot of little subtle improvements.”

Thursday’s overall top lap time came just four days after the GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing crew repaired the No. 99 GAINSCO “Red Dragon” after an early accident in last Saturday night’s Canadian Tire 200 at The Glen. The crew replaced the entire rear gearbox and suspension assembly in New York State on Sunday, had the car loaded up by 9:30 p.m. that night, and then took Monday off before traveling to Montreal on Tuesday. 

“The crew did a great job, the car was as good as new,” Fogarty said. “It’s all part of their job, they have a really difficult job, and I am pleased again that we have unloaded with a competitive car. We made progress again during these early sessions. Everything is pointed in the right direction, there were no residual issues from that incident, and that allowed us to get down to business and start tuning immediately. I am sure that is paying off.”

GAINSCO, Gurney and Fogarty finished second in last year’s Montreal 200 and third in 2007 and 2009. Fogarty is also the two-time defending Montreal pole winner and qualified on the top spot in 2007 for a series-leading three Daytona Prototype poles for GAINSCO on Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

Although the team was only credited with a 12th place result at The Glen, the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Chevrolet Riley still ranks third in the 2011 GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series team championship standings with 269 points.  While both the season championship and second-place honors are out of the question, GAINSCO is determined to keep its third-place position through the year’s final two races. The Montreal 200 will be followed by the season-ending EMCO Gears Classic at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course next month.

Friday’s Montreal 200 schedule includes final practice at 12:15 p.m. and Daytona Prototype qualifying at 4 p.m.  The GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series schedule for race-day Saturday includes only the Montreal 200 at 11:15 a.m.

Noteworthy

Gurney and Fogarty have plenty of good memories of past Montreal 200 races. “After we had a problem in the pits in 2009, we were able to come back through the field and snag the last podium spot on the last lap from Ricky Taylor,” Gurney said. “That was a critical time in the championship so that was a great feeling.”… “Getting the pole in a great battle with Jan Magnussen and SunTrust in 2007 was a Montreal highlight for me,” Fogarty said. “It was back and forth, back and forth and the margin was tiny.”