Second-generation champion takes to IMS over 40 years after father Dan Gurney
Alex Gurney, joined by his fellow two-time GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series Champion teammates at GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing, turned his first career laps Wednesday on the hallowed ground of Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) over 40 years after his famous father Dan Gurney last drove in the Indianapolis 500.
Alex Gurney is handling the driving duties in the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Chevrolet Riley for a two-day Continental tire test on the IMS road course in preparation for next year’s debut GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series race at the 2012 Super Weekend at the Brickyard. Although his father Dan Gurney, who finished second twice in the 500 as a driver and won it three times as constructor/team owner, earned a place in Indy’s rich history, Alex Gurney has never had a chance to take to the track until today.
“It felt great,” Gurney said. “I have thought about this place for a long time, and heard so many stories from my dad, and wondered what it would be like, and it is a cathedral. I feel very lucky to finally get a chance to drive around it at speed.”
Gurney and the No. 99 GAINSCO “Red Dragon” are one of two Daytona Prototype teams testing this week, along with a pair of Rolex Series GT cars and two teams from the GRAND-AM Continental Sports Car Challenge. All had limited track time Wednesday due to some afternoon rain showers.
“We didn’t get a lot of laps today,” Gurney said. “We ran intermittently because of the rain but we did get started on some work for Continental. They are trying to make as much progress as they can before coming back here for the real race next year.”
As to be expected, Gurney’s debut laps delivered a new impression of a track he has seldom visited but has frequently seen in race broadcasts on television. He enjoyed the feeling driving through Turn 1 of the famed oval at about 160 mph – running in a different direction on the road course layout – although he found the front straight a lot different than he envisioned while reaching a top-speed of 180 mph.
“The front straight feels narrower than I expected,” Gurney said. “From watching it on TV it just looks really wide, but not a lot of room down there once you are on the track, it seems like. The biggest factor today was dealing with the rain.”
GAINSCO’s test run at Indy follows the team’s second win of the season last month in the Montreal 200 where Gurney and co-driver Jon Fogarty scored a convincing victory from the pole. Fogarty drove for GAINSCO, along with team owner/driver Bob Stallings, when the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series ran its first test at IMS in 2009.A 40% chance of rain showers, and a second-consecutive day of temperatures in the 60s, is predicted for Thursday’s second and final day of testing, which is scheduled to run between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.
The next race for GAINSCO, Gurney and Fogarty is the season-ending EMCO Gears Classic at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, September 16 – 17. The race can be seen live on SPEED, Saturday, September 17, at 3 p.m. ET/Noon PT.