Gurney, Fogarty conquer Brumos Porsche 250

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty stamped their names in the record books of Daytona International Speedway tonight, piloting their No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Pontiac-powered Riley into Victory Lane from the pole in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Brumos Porsche 250. But their third consecutive win and fourth of the year was not an easy one, as Fogarty was forced to mount a stirring charge through the field after serving a questionable stop-and-go penalty on Lap 15.

The penalty, issued to Fogarty for what Grand-Am officials called “avoidable contact" with the No. 23 and No. 01 cars, dropped the GAINSCO machine back to 15th on Lap 16. In the GAINSCO pits, disbelief at the penalty hardened into a quiet determination to fight back into Victory Lane and keep the team’s win streak alive. With 54 laps left in the 70-lap, 250-mile event, team owner Bob Stallings told his crew that they’d overcome greater obstacles, and that with a car that fairly flew around the 3.56-mile speedway road course, his drivers could salvage a solid finish. They delivered. Fogarty scythed through the field, landing in third place on Lap 43, when he handed the car over to Gurney. Along the way, the two-time Toyota Atlantic champion recorded the race’s fastest lap, a blistering circuit of 1:45.269, set on Lap 37.

A blazing-fast pit stop from Link Smith and the GAINSCO Boys sent the second-generation star back on course in the lead, and from there, Gurney and the No. 99 never looked back, sailing under the checkered flag 7.48 seconds ahead of second-placed Max Angelelli in the No. 10 machine.

"We in the history books now," an exuberant Gurney said. “It feels awesome to win at this track, a place with so much history, where my dad won one of the first sports car races ever. Jon and I had the car to beat all the way, and when we got that penalty we knew we just had to overcome it. The crew gave us a great pit stop to get me out in front of the 10 car and I knew the outlap was a critical moment. I had to get on it to stay in front, and when I did that and got clear, it was all about being smart in traffic and taking it to the checkers."

Fogarty was equally proud of the GAINSCO team’s drive and determination after the penalty was assessed. He said that after he brought the 99 machine down pit road, he “didn’t really think about it" – he just focused on driving himself and his team back to the front.

“I drove the wheels off it. I tried to channel my anger into speed," Fogarty said. “My goal was to get the car as close to the front as possible to give Alex a shot at the win in his stint, so it was just maximum push the whole time. As for the circumstances that put us there, I didn’t really get why the penalty was assessed then and I don’t get it now, but as a team we pulled together. I was able to cut through the field, the pit crew put Alex back out in front and he drove it home – that shows the depth of this team."

With back-to-back-to-back wins, the GAINSCO team has built an air of quiet drive and determination to put a winning car on the track at every circuit the series visits, and team owner Bob Stallings couldn’t be more thrilled with the results he’s seeing from his GAINSCO Boys.

“With maturity and discipline come confidence, and what you saw today is this entire team’s maturity and discipline coming together on track, in the pits and on the timing stand," Stallings said. “Alex and Jon had the confidence to know that even though they were down, they had a race car that they could fight back to the front with, and even though Jon was frustrated – as was I – with that penalty call, he kept his head down and did what he knows how to do – drive the No. 99 fast. I’ve got to give Pontiac credit too, because they’re giving us bulletproof motors that we just don’t have to worry about. We can unload the car anywhere, be fast and be ready to win. That’s the GAINSCO team’s secret."

The victory has major championship implications, as well – Gurney, Fogarty and the GAINSCO team have nearly cut Scott Pruett’s lead in half in the driver and team title fights. After three consecutive victories – at Watkins Glen, Mid-Ohio and now Daytona – the team’s deficit is now just 17 points, with six races remaining in the 2007 Rolex Series season.

“If the 01 car stumbles, we’ll be right on them," Stallings said. “We did what we had to do – go out and get max points. That’s all we can do to win the championship – just get all the points we can. There’s a lot of racing left this year, and my goal is that we don’t beat ourselves anywhere along the line. If we get beat, it should only be because someone else takes the fight to us."

Gurney, for one, is ready for the challenge of the season’s second half.

“As a team, we can’t do any more than what we’ve been doing," he said. “These races are so tough, especially with the GT cars making things unpredictable – I was extremely careful through my whole stint because you can run into problems in a heartbeat. “We’ve just got to keep putting out the results and the championship will take care of itself."

The Brumos Porsche 250 was just the beginning of a three-week, back-to-back-to-back odyssey for the Rolex Sports Car Series. Next Friday, July 13, the GAINSCO team will return to action under the lights in Newton, Iowa, for the Rolex Series’ debut race at the new Iowa Speedway. One week later, the action shifts to Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala. on Sunday, July 22. Unofficial testing for the Iowa 400k begins July 12, with official practice and qualifying set for the 13th. The inaugural 192-lap, 400-kilometer race goes green at 8 p.m. Central time, and will be televised on a tape-delayed basis on SPEED Channel on July 14th at 2 p.m. Eastern time.

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