Alex Gurney, Bob Stallings and Jon Fogarty in more certain times. (LAT photo).
Unfortunate news from Bob Stallings, owner of the popular two-time Grand-Am Rolex Series Daytona Prototype championship-winning GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing team, has confirmed the Corvette DP team could be absent from the 2014 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship.
“Basically, what I need to do, given the cost I will incur, is decide whether or not 2014 will be a year of transition for the series that would be better for me to wait a year and see how it all plays out,” Stallings told RACER last weekend. “I want to see where the DP stacks up against the P2 cars and see what the series is really thinking about the success they hopefully have in balancing the DPs and P2s. The answer is I don't know what I'm going to do yet. I hope to make my decision by the end of [this] week whether we're going to run or not. It's certainly true we're re-evaluating.”
Stallings' team, which made its Rolex Series debut at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in 2005, has been a fixture in the Daytona Prototype with its respected core of mechanics. Jon Fogarty and Alex Gurney, drivers of the aptly-named “Red Dragon” GAINSCO-sponsored DP, have earned a reputation as one of the fastest pairings in the series, with Fogarty's knack for earning pole positions serving as a special distinction during the team's time in Grand-Am.
With a question mark hanging over the team's immediate future, Stallings says he's given his drivers permission to seek rides elsewhere. It's also believed one or more of the team's crew members could be moving on.
“What I've told Jon and Alex — I'm pretty close to them, as you know — is I wouldn't be angry or disappointed with them if they had something with more certainty and wanted to take that opportunity,” he explained. “We go through a budget analysis every year; this is a year-to-year program, and my expectation is to run next year, although I can't say it will happen for sure, but they have families to think about.”
“They've both said they can wait another week before making a decision on whether to go elsewhere or look elsewhere, and we should know something by then whether we'll continue or not. I can say I do not want to go racing without them, but appreciate the decisions they have to make for their careers and families.”
Whether Stallings decides to sit out the 2014 TUDOR United Sports Car Championship or opts to continue, he's likely to do so with something other than a Riley Technologies chassis beneath his Corvette DP bodywork.
“I was waiting to get the e-mail I got today (Saturday), which finally brings some clarity to the expense I'd have to get the car ready, and frankly, I've been considering making a chassis change,” he added. “So I'm talking to another chassis manufacturer — staying with Corvette—and I think we've figured out what the cost increase is going to be to run the season, minus the Cap X expense, and then, with the rules memo, that will allow myself and my team manager Terry Wilbert to make the changes to the car.
Concerns about performance balancing, according to Stallings, will remain until he sees the DP and P2 cars race together next year, but he's confident the overall TUDOR Championship product is going to be better than what two divided sports car series had to offer.
“I'd feel better if there was a crystal ball — if I knew if the efforts to make these cars competitive was going to be successful,” he noted. “One thing I know is the racing is going to be better in this series, more commercially viable, and now I need to decide the best time to get in.”