A repaired No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Chevrolet Riley took to Daytona International Speedway right on schedule for Friday morning practice after the GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing crew worked until 4 a.m. last night to repair the team's “Red Dragon” Daytona Prototype, following a heavy accident on Thursday. The team's hard work and perseverance paid off as the No. 99 was third fastest in both the morning session as well as final practice for this weekend's Rolex 24 At Daytona on Friday afternoon.
“I was in the pits until about midnight last night watching the guys put the engine in and the tranny in, and stuff, and just to see their spirits and their enthusiasm after I put them through such a tough day really brought my spirits up,” said Johnson, who was uninjured in the Thursday incident. “These guys are top notch and I am fortunate to drive here at GAINSCO and look forward to a good race.”
Johnson, Jon Fogarty and Jimmy Vasser all put the No. 99 through its paces on Friday. Vasser joined his teammates in being impressed by the GAINSCO crew's dedicated repair effort.
“It was a great job by all of the guys on the GAINSCO team,” Vasser said. “It was a lot of work last night getting the car put back together but all of the wheels are pointing in the right direction and we had an opportunity to get in the car. The car is good enough for us to win the race and we just can't beat ourselves. We just need to get it out there and keep it going.”
Johnson is also confident in the car and team heading into this weekend's race.
“I am very impressed with the car,” Johnson said. “It drove very similar to yesterday. Unfortunately, we lost the track time yesterday to really fine-tune the car but I think it is well within the ballpark. We will be in good shape and it drove really well.”
Gurney was the only GAINSCO driver not to drive Friday but he is scheduled to start the No. 99 when the green flag drops at 3:30 p.m. ET tomorrow.
"Everything seems to be running well,” Gurney said. “Considering what position we were in during the middle of the day yesterday we are really happy. It is almost like it didn't happen, at this point. Other than some sleep for the guys that they will get tonight, we are back in business. We are starting in the back but that is not really important in a 24-hour race.”
Live coverage of the 2010 Rolex 24 on SPEED begins on Saturday, Jan. 30, at 3 p.m. ET, prior to the race start at 3:30 p.m. local time. SPEED's first round of programming lasts until 10 p.m. EST and then resumes at 7 a.m. EST on Sunday with coverage until the checkered flag and through the post-race ceremonies until 4 p.m. local time.