Jon Fogarty wins record-extending 18th career pole in Montreal 200 qualifying

Pole fourth in five Montreal races for Fogarty and No. 99 GAINSCO “Red Dragon” GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing and driver Jon Fogarty extended two pole records and defended another Saturday in qualifying for tomorrow’s Montreal 200 where Fogarty drove the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Chevrolet Riley to its second pole of the 2011 GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series season and a series-leading fourth in five races at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. 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.Fogarty, who will co-drive with teammate Alex Gurney tomorrow, grabbed the pole early in the 15-minute session on his second flying lap and improved his speed two more times to lock down the top spot with a lap time of 1:32.999 (104.866 mph).  The pole was his third consecutive at Montreal and fourth overall after also qualifying first in the debut GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series race on Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in 2007.Fogarty also extended to 18 his Daytona Prototype career-leading pole record and kept SunTrust’s Ricky Taylor from matching his in-season record of seven poles in a row that Fogarty set in 2007 with GAINSCO.  Fogarty earned GAINSCO’s first pole of 2011 this past March at the Grand Prix of Miami.“Getting the pole in and of itself is the best thing about today,” Fogarty said. “The record is nice and everything, but it’s not what we come out here to do, we come out here to be the fastest in each and every session and ultimately in the race. This is one of the steps in getting there, and having a fast car in qualifying bodes well for the race setup.  I am just really pleased for the GAINSCO team. We feel pretty good about it, and feel good about heading into the race.”Fogarty did admit to feeling some pressure about trying to keep his in-season consecutive pole record from being equaled.  His seven consecutive poles were part of GAINSCO’s record 10 poles in 2007’s championship season.“I won’t disregard the fact that I did feel maybe a little bit of extra pressure,” Fogarty said. “Ricky has been doing an awesome job all year, and they have been really tough to beat in qualifying. We actually think we learned something from them over the last couple of races that we tried in this qualifying session.  It seemed to work out well for us. We didn’t roll into it so quickly. We didn’t try to set the time right off the bat, we let the tires come to us, and that served us well.”Gurney drove just a couple of laps Friday in morning practice but will drive the No. 99 GAINSCO “Red Dragon” to the finish tomorrow after he takes over from starting driver Fogarty. GAINSCO, Gurney and Fogarty finished second in last year’s Montreal 200 and third in 2007 and 2009. Nothing short of a win is the goal for tomorrow.“We are certainly hoping for a win,” Gurney said. “Jon was just awesome today, really just a perfect session.  We’re really happy with the car and the forecast looks good, so we don’t expect too much of a balance change. We are just excited to get it on.”Fogarty likes the street-circuit nature of the Montreal track and how well the No. 99 has traditionally performed on Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.“This seems to be a place that is well suited to the GAINSCO ‘Red Dragon,’” Fogarty said. “We have had some great qualifying sessions but we haven’t had the best races here, so that’s what we are shooting for tomorrow.  Starting up front in a two-hour event is pretty key. We love this place, it’s a fun track to drive, it’s a lot like a street course, and we just seem to have a real good handle on it.”In addition to taking the pole today with Fogarty, GAINSCO also paced Thursday’s opening practice session with Gurney at the wheel. This weekend’s strong performance began just four days after the GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing crew repaired the No. 99 after an early accident in last Saturday night’s Canadian Tire 200 at The Glen in which Fogarty was uninjured. The crew replaced the entire rear-end assembly last Sunday before making the trip to Montreal.The No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Chevrolet Riley is currently 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 realistically out of reach, GAINSCO is racing 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.With no morning warm-up scheduled, Saturday’s only on-track activity is the Montreal 200 at 11:15 a.m.

NoteworthyA performance like GAINSCO’s in qualifying Friday is something every driver always wants to see. “It’s easy as a driver when the car is that good,” Fogarty said. “You can just push a little bit harder each lap, you don’t have to take massive risks to get the time, you come into each brake zone and you just go a little bit deeper, and you have confidence that the car is going to do it, and you have confidence that if the car isn’t going to do it, it’s not going to bite you in the ass.”… Tomorrow’s race starts at 11:15 a.m., the first and only time all weekend that GRAND-AM Rolex Series competitors will take to the track in the morning. “I don’t expect to see massive differences,” Fogarty said. “I don’t think there is any rain in the forecast, so I don’t think we are going to have a green track in the morning. I am not sure who is on the schedule between now and then, but I guarantee you by the mid-point in the race it is going to be very similar to what we had today.  It might be different at the start but come the end I think we will have a nice, clean, good track with Continental rubber down, and we will have a good car.”