Gurney and Fogarty target Mid-Ohio record
Alex Gurney, Jon Fogarty and GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing will be shooting for a record third consecutive victory in the EMCO Gears Classic at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course this Saturday, June 20, in Round 6 of the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16. Live coverage of the 2 3/4 hour timed sprint race begins at 5 p.m. ET on SPEED and the Mid-Ohio event is the first of two twilight races on the 2009 Grand-Am Rolex Series schedule.
Gurney and Fogarty turned in one the GAINSCO team’s most dominating performances to win the 2007 EMCO classic and then made a record comeback in the rain last year for their second Mid-Ohio win in a row. A “three-peat” in the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Pontiac Riley this weekend would be a first for GAINSCO at any track and the first triple sweep of a race by the same driver and team combination in Grand-Am Rolex Series history. Setting the record on a Mid-Ohio circuit that is a team favorite would be even better.
“We are really excited to get back on track and we’ve always done well at Mid-Ohio,” Gurney said. “Both Jon and I love the track and have a lot of experience there. It is just one of the best road courses in the country. We are really excited and hopefully we can get back on top of the points.”
Any good result at Mid-Ohio would also keep Gurney, Fogarty and GAINSCO in the thick of the 2009 Grand-Am Rolex Series Daytona Prototype Team and Driver Championships and shake off any lingering disappointment from a bizarre DNF (Did Not Finish) one race ago in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen. GAINSCO came into that race with the points lead but failed to finish after track safety crews inadvertently damaged the bottom of the No. 99. Gurney was running fifth when he was punted off course by David Donohue’s No. 58 Brumos Porsche Riley, but that bump and run was nothing compared to the towing crew’s apparent miscue when they hooked the bottom of the No. 99 on the outer edge of a curb.
“They tore the floor off the bottom of the car and the floor is a bonded and riveted structural element to the car,” Fogarty said. “The guys had to haul our car back to Texas and basically take the whole thing apart and put it back together. So they have been really busy.”
Despite the setback and losing the points lead, GAINSCO, Gurney and Fogarty are currently tied with No. 12 Penske Racing Porsche Riley drivers Timo Bernhard and Romain Dumas for third in both championships with 134 points. There is also a tie at 140 points at the top of the standings between the No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley of Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas and the No. 10 SunTrust Ford Dallara and drivers Max Angelelli and Brian Frisselle.
“We’re coming off a brutal weekend in Watkins Glen so we are extremely motivated to get our championship back on track,” Gurney said. “We are still right there in the points and feel very good about our chances at Mid-Ohio. I absolutely love this circuit with Turn 1 being one of my favorite corners on our entire schedule, very fast and tricky, and always exciting. The atmosphere and fans are always fabulous as well.”
GAINSCO has won two of the year’s first five races with victories in Round 2 in April at the Bosch Engineering 250 at Virginia International Raceway and Round 4 last month at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in the Verizon Festival of Speed presented by SPEEDCOM Communications. A third 2009 win and third victory at Mid-Ohio would be nice, but Fogarty is more focused on the big picture.
“Three straight would be great, but my motivation to win is based more around the points race in this year’s championship rather than setting some sort of record,” said Fogarty, who joined Gurney and GAINSCO in winning the 2007 Grand-Am Rolex Series Team and Driver Championships. “Yes, it would be great, but getting back into the championship lead would be even better.”
Fogarty shares Gurney’s high opinion of Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
“The whole track is great in that it has a variety of corners,” Fogarty said. “There are rhythm sections throughout the back of the track and stand alone fast corners like Turns 1 and 7. Getting Turn 1 right is probably the most satisfying of all the corners