Fogarty unstoppable in the wet, leads GAINSCO team to second-place finish in six-hour Watkins Glen thriller
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (June 3, 2006) — The GAINSCO/Blackhawk Racing team is no stranger to coming from behind, and at today’s Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen, drivers Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty proved they know how to do it better than anyone else by scoring a second-place finish in the wet-and-wild Rolex Sports Car Series endurance race.
Driving the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Pontiac Riley, Gurney and Fogarty overcame repeated body contact, two nose changes and a questionable drive-through penalty to record their third podium of the season, a result that helped close the gap in the Rolex Series title fight. The team sits in seventh with 237 points, just 10 markers out of the top five.
Fogarty’s raw speed in the slippery conditions that prevailed for much of the race was a major factor in the team’s success — at one point, he turned laps that were as much as six seconds faster than any competitor on track. That unmatched performance put the GAINSCO machine at the front of the field for 45 of the 154 laps, more than any other team.
But as the race wore on and dusk fell, the rains went away and with them, some of the team’s edge. A final-hour pit stop for a splash of gas took the No. 99 out of the lead and as the laps wound down, Gurney just couldn’t close the distance with eventual winner Jorg Bergmeister in the No. 76 Krohn Racing Riley.
“In the wet, the GAINSCO car was simply awesome. I really enjoy driving in the rain – it makes you improvise and be creative,” Fogarty said. “You really have to drive by feel because you can’t see anything out, and the track was changing almost with every lap as it would dry out and get wet again. I have to thank the crew for giving me a great setup, because that’s what gave me the confidence to drive that hard.”
Gurney started the No. 99 from the seventh position on the grid, but was almost immediately forced to come from behind — the No. 19 machine brake-checked him coming into the Inner Loop on the first lap, resulting in damage to the nose of the GAINSCO Riley. The early pit stop to change the nose could have been disastrous, but flawless work from the GAINSCO team, led by crew chief Terry Wilbert, got the No. 99 out of the pits on the lead lap just ahead of the No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley, driven by Max Angelelli. Gurney fought off the defending Rolex Series champion that time — and ironically, Alex would again duel with Angelelli in the last 30 minutes of the race in a successful effort to keep the hard charging Italian in third.
“We’re definitely happy to get another podium for the GAINSCO team, but it’s a shame we couldn’t make it up to the top step because we clearly had the fastest car for a lot of the day,” Gurney said. “I think the car just might have been a bit beat up at the end and the tires were wearing down, so the car just wasn’t quite right when it came down to the checkers. This team is on a string of really good finishes and the whole package is there. We’ll get a win.”
For team owner Bob Stallings, the podium was another affirmation of his decision to step out of the cockpit of the No. 99 in favor of Fogarty, a two-time Toyota Atlantic champion. To him, the ability to overcome anything is what makes the GAINSCO team special.
“We got off to a pretty rocky start but it was so awesome to watch both of these guys do what they did. Jon actually reached down inside himself and found his greatness when it counted and when we needed it,” Stallings said. “There’s no question that the crew deserves a bunch of credit for this one because they never got discouraged and had confidence in each other and themselves. This is a team to be reckoned with anywhere we go — we can run with anybody.”
The GAINSCO/Blackhawk Racing team will head next to the rolling hills of central Ohio, for the 250-mile EMCO Gears Classic at the historic and tricky 2.26 mile Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio. Practice and qualifying are set for Friday, June 23 with the feature race beginning at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 24. The race will be televised live on SPEED Channel. Race weekend updates from the team are available on the From the Pit blog at GAINSCOracing.blogspot.com, and Internet radio coverage and live timing and scoring are available at www.Grand-Am.com.
The primary sponsor of the No. 99 Blackhawk Motorsports Daytona Prototype is GAINSCO Auto Insurance (Amex:GAN), a Dallas, Texas-based auto insurer that distributes policies through a network of nearly 4,000 independent agents across the Sunbelt. One of the fastest-growing carriers in the auto insurance industry, GAINSCO uses its “Are You Driven?” motorsports sponsorship and marketing campaign to build brand awareness and advance its distribution strategies. For more information, visit www.GAINSCO.com.
Blackhawk Motorsports has been committed to excellence in road racing since its formation in 2001. The team campaigns the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Pontiac Riley Daytona Prototype in the 2006 Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve. With five top-10s and three podiums in the last five races, drivers Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty are climbing the championship standings in pursuit of a top-5 in the title fight — and are hungry for their first victory. The team is supported by GAINSCO Auto Insurance, and proudly partners with Pontiac, Riley Technologies and Puma. For more information, visit www.GAINSCOracing.com.
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