Alex Gurney didn't let the lingering effects of a cold stop him from ripping off a last lap in Thursday's final practice session that was the fastest of the opening day of competition for the Mexico 250 at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez. Saturday's race can be seen live on SPEED at 4 p.m. ET.
The GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing team worked on the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Pontiac Riley throughout Thursday's pair of one-hour afternoon practice sessions and the end result was Gurney's lap of 1:20.536 (111.751 mph) that topped the field of 18 Daytona Prototypes. After teammate Jon Fogarty quickly got up to speed at the beginning of the session, Gurney took the wheel for the final part of practice and posted the quick time on the No. 99 GAINSCO Pontiac Riley's 21st and final lap.
"My cold didn't bother me in the car," Gurney said. "Maybe if I am in the car for two hours in the race, but right now it was fine. I knew we would be up there. We made probably six or seven good changes and kept improving it and at the end there it was the best it had been. We are pretty happy but we know the other guys are not going to slack off so I am sure it will be very close at the top, but so far so good. We are really excited."
The Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez circuit was plagued by typical dirty and dusty track conditions that are always a part of the first day of practice in Mexico City.
"I would imagine you will see some (1 minute) 19s before the end of the weekend," Gurney said. "The track will clean up some more and obviously the tires are giving us that little bit more grip, so it will keep coming around."
This is the fourth time the Grand-Am Rolex Series has raced in Mexico and Gurney, Fogarty and the GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing team are the defending race winners. The GAINSCO squad's 2007 victory was the first for the team in Daytona Prototype competition and proved to be the springboard to winning both the Rolex Series Driver and Team Championships. In total, the team won six more times — half of 2007's 14 races — in the most dominating Daytona Prototype season in Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series history.
The GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing team's special Mexico-themed paint scheme was also a top hit in the paddock Thursday. First introduced last year, the special design features GAINSCO's trademark red finish complemented by sweeping white and greens stripes that swirl along both sides of the race car. Numerous fans and several media outlets took the time to photograph the No. 99 and interview Gurney about Saturday's Mexico 250.
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