Gurney, Fogarty seek year’s first win in Sunday’s Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen

 GAINSCO /Bob Stallings Racing still looking for 2012 season turnaround as GRAND-AM Rolex Series heads to The Glen

Gurney, Fogarty seek year’s first win in Sunday’s Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen

GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing, and drivers Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty, hope that a favorite race on a favorite track will be just what the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Corvette Daytona Prototype team needs to turn a challenging season around this weekend in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen at Watkins Glen International.

Round 8 of 13 races on the 2012 GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series schedule, the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen can be seen live on SPEED this Sunday, July 1, at 11 a.m. EDT/8 a.m. PDT.

GAINSCO, Gurney and Fogarty won the 2007 Sahlen’s at The Glen from the pole and a second career victory in the six-hour endurance race this Sunday could do wonders in salvaging what has been the most challenging season in the team’s history. The No. 99 team came back later in 2007 to win the August sprint race on the NASCAR short course from the pole and, since that year’s sweep, has amassed three additional podium finishes and one more pole at The Glen. Both The Glen long course and the annual Sahlen’s Six Hour race are GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing favorites.

“We’re still searching for the win column, or really just the ‘finish’ column, at this point,” Gurney said. “Watkins Glen has been one of our very best tracks, results wise, with several wins, podiums and poles. We have been very happy with the balance of the car the last several races; we are just in dire need of a trouble-free race. Watkins Glen has been very good to us over the years so maybe this is the place where we get our season going again.”

The No. 99 GAINSCO “Red Dragon” finished second in Round 2 at Barber Motorsports Park in March and fourth earlier this month on the Belle Isle street course in Detroit, but the majority of the team’s 2012 races have been plagued with mechanical failures and competitor contact.

GAINSCO’s most recent heartbreaker came just last Saturday at Road America where a right front suspension issue knocked the No. 99 out of the race a little over 30 minutes into the two-hour sprint. It was the third DNF (Did Not Finish) for GAINSCO in the year’s first seven races and, by comparison, the team has never had more than two DNFs in any season since beginning fulltime competition in the GRAND-AM Rolex Series in 2006.

“It is always about winning races but we know what it is like to race for wins while running for a championship,” Fogarty said. “At this stage our sole focus is going to be on race wins as we are going to have to wait another year for our third championship. But we have the pace, we have the right car and we know we have a great team. We just need our luck to turnaround and that is going to happen this weekend at The Glen.”

GAINSCO, Gurney and Fogarty won both the 2007 and 2009 GRAND-AM Rolex Series Daytona Prototype titles and have handled this season’s unprecedented hardships like true champions. The weekend before the Road America disappointment, Fogarty was leading at Mid-Ohio from the pole when an early power steering problem, ultimately traced to a faulty Electronic Control Unit (ECU), dropped them to a seventh-place finish in a race they had a good shot at winning.

Mechanical problems also knocked GAINSCO from winning contention in the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona while the year’s other two DNFs came in back-to-back races at Homestead-Miami Speedway and New Jersey Motorsports Park. Engine problems parked the GAINSCO “Red Dragon” in Miami while Gurney was taken out by rival Scott Pruett battling for the lead in last month’s race in New Jersey.

A GAINSCO turnaround at Watkins Glen wouldn’t come as a surprise.

“The Watkins Glen long course in particular has lots of corners and that always tends to suit the GAINSCO ‘Red Dragon’ team,” Gurney said. “The more turns, the better for us.”

All on the team also like the challenging format of the six-hour endurance race.

“I put the Sahlen’s Six Hour near the top of my favorite races.” Fogarty. “The track is awesome and it’s more of a whole team event and effort with the added pressure on the crew. The team has to execute double the number of stops in the Six Hour, so it is more taxing on the crew guys.”

While the Sahlen’s Six Hour joins the Rolex 24 as the only other true endurance race on the annual GRAND-AM Rolex Series schedule, The Glen event at times feels more like a sprint race.

“The Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen is short enough that the car should stay together, but long enough that weather can really come into play,” Fogarty said. “I would compare it far more to a sprint race than an endurance event as far as how you attack it, but you can see a lot of different weather in the span of the race and we certainly have over the years.”

Close competition, regardless of the race or track configuration, has also been the norm for GAINSCO since the team debuted at The Glen in its inaugural partial season of racing in 2005. Gurney joined team owner and then driver Bob Stallings for GAINSCO’s first podium finish on the NASCAR course that year in just the fourth career race start for the No. 99 squad.

“We’ve had awesome battles at The Glen nearly every year, usually with the SunTrust 10 or the 01 Ganassi car, but one of my favorite races was our very first year on the short course in 2005,” Gurney said. “We came from near the back of the field all the way up to second place and passed lots of cars.”

The Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen is a three-day event that begins with a full day of practice on Friday. Final practice and qualifying take place Saturday morning while race-day Sunday begins with a 30-minute warm-up at 8:30 a.m. The featured Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen starts at 11 a.m. EDT on Sunday.

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