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Gurney, Fogarty annihilate Grand-Am field at M-O
LEXINGTON, Ohio — There was just one word for the performance of Alex Gurney, Jon Fogarty and their No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Pontiac-powered Riley this evening in the EMCO Gears Classic presented by KeyBank at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course: Dominance. The all-American pairing led 105 of 111 laps and was almost never seriously challenged en route to their second straight Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series victory and third on the season. At the midpoint of the 14-race season, GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing is the only Daytona Prototype team to score multiple wins.
From the drop of the green, Fogarty, who started from the pole by virtue of a track-record time, opened up a small gap over second-placed Christian Fittipaldi in the No. 39 Cheever Racing machine, but he struggled early on with an ill-handling race car, a problem the team has attributed to a bad set of tires. But he held the lead despite Fittipaldi’s early speed, and brought the car into the pits on Lap 32 for tires, fuel and a driver change. The GAINSCO Boys went over the wall perfectly and performed a blazing-fast stop that sent the second-generation star back on course in the lead. From there, it was all GAINSCO, as Gurney was able to pull away from the field at will. In the team’s final pit stop, at Lap 82, the crew gained 10 seconds on the field, allowing Gurney to drive away unchallenged to a 31.629-second lead when the checkered flag flew on Lap 111. Soaked in Victory Lane champagne, Alex credited an “amazing effort” from the whole Bob Stallings Racing team. 
“The GAINSCO team had a completely mistake-free day,” Gurney said. “Jon had a perfect stint, leading the whole way from the pole and both pit stops were flawless. The 99 was great on old tires and super-fast on new tires. It’s pretty amazing, and a real testament to our engineer, Kyle Brannan, to Pontiac and to this crew that (team owner) Bob Stallings has put together. We had a big lead at the end, and that’s just the way we like it. We hope it’s that way for the rest of the season, and the other guys better do their homework.”
Fogarty said his stint was “the most difficult session I’ve had this race weekend,” but he knew that by maintaining the lead and, with it, the track position, he’d give the car over to Alex in prime position to drive for victory. He, too, thanked the team’s combined talents with providing himself and Gurney with everything they needed to put together another dominating victory.
“The No. 99 car was not ideal when I was in it, but it was still exceptionally fast – just not phenomenally fast like it had been before,” Fogarty said. “We knew coming in that track position was paramount and it was important for me to hold on until the pit stop. I pulled in the pits as the leader, the GAINSCO Boys did everything they needed to do in the pits and Alex just expanded on that when he got in the car. It was a wonderful weekend, and we have the tools to do that every race. There will be ups and downs for us in a competitive series like this, but we want the pole and the win everywhere. That’s our objective.”
Stallings, who watched from the timing stand as his drivers and team performed their jobs flawlessly, executing fast laps and blazing pit stops, could not have been happier. To contend for the 2007 Rolex Series driver and team titles, the No. 99 team has to gain maximum points every race – and that’s just what his team did.
“Alex and Jon did a great job, Kyle called a flawless race and put a great setup on the car and the GAINSCO Boys in the pits were just unbelievably quick,” Stallings said. “We just have to keep doing what we’re doing and see how the year turns out, but I think we’re all looking forward to the second half of the season because there’s a lot of tracks coming up that we’re awfully strong at.
Crew chief Link Smith was proud of his crew’s over-the-wall work, attributing the performance to constant practice and improvement – aided by a camera system which records every stop, allowing crewmembers to review their work and look for places to shave precious seconds.
“You know, it’s a team effort,” Smith said. “We don’t have a full-time crew, so every time we put the tires on the car we run a practice pit stop and just keep hitting it and hitting it hard.”
Gurney, Fogarty and the GAINSCO team will look to continue their streak of dominance and success in two weeks’ time at the fabled Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla. – a circuit where Gurney holds the track record, by virtue of his pole there for January’s Rolex 24 at Daytona. This time, the duo will compete in a combined-class sprint under the lights, the Brumos Porsche 250, on Thursday night, July 5. The unique one-day event format kicks off with practice at 10 a.m. Eastern time, followed by qualifying at 1:45 p.m. At 8 p.m., the 70-lap, 250-mile Brumos Porsche 250 goes green. The race will be televised live on SPEED Channel.
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