GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing, and drivers Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty, shook off a penalty in the first half of the race to rally for a fifth-place finish in the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Corvette Daytona Prototype in the second half of Saturday’s Continental Tire 200 presented by Dunn Tire at Watkins Glen International.
Starting eighth after a disappointing run in Friday qualifying, opening driver Fogarty quickly moved into the top five in the two-hour timed-sprint race’s opening minutes. Great pit work by the GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing crew moved Fogarty to third a quarter of the way into the race but it soon became apparent that the Corvette contingent was just a tick off the pace on The Glen’s fast 2.45-mile NASCAR short course layout.
“This is the sort of circuit that doesn’t necessarily suit the Corvettes,” Fogarty said. “We lacked a little bit in overall pace, and that’s to be expected the way the rules are, we do have advantages in other places so I am not going to whine and cry like a lot of other people do. That is just the way it goes. We will go to tracks where we have the upper hand, and sometimes we will go to tracks where we don’t. This just happened to be one of the ones where we don’t. We had great pace relative to the other Corvettes, and we were the second highest finishing Corvette, and we did a lot better than we qualified.”
GAINSCO’s main setback came with a surprising avoidable-contact penalty Fogarty was assessed near the end of the race’s opening hour. The No. 99 GAINSCO “Red Dragon” was held in the pits for 10 seconds after nose-to-tail contact with another Daytona Prototype competitor. Both cars continued without missing a beat after the minor incident and the No. 99 didn’t improve its track position.
“I thought we stayed out of trouble,” Fogarty said. “We ran a clean race, we didn’t negatively impact anybody else’s race, but we still ended up somehow receiving a penalty and I am pretty baffled as to why that it is. Ultimately, it didn’t affect our finishing position, but it is just frustrating as a driver to have to recalibrate every weekend when you just don’t know what is going to happen. When something happens on the track, and it impacts neither of the parties involved in any substantial way whatsoever, to have the officials then impact one of the parties’ race is just unnecessary.”
Gurney took over for Fogarty in another pit stop not long after GAINSCO served the penalty – the No. 99 GAINSCO team was also assessed a pair of questionable penalties in the last race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway – and soon realized the challenge facing the No. 99 team in Saturday’s race.
“This race in particular makes it pretty hard on the Chevys having so many less engine revs than the Fords,” Gurney said. “It makes the gearing really tricky for us, having 400 less revs really makes us compromise on our gear selection so it has historically made it tough to race here.”
Gurney did manage to work his way into the lead five-car pack that battled it out in a final, four-lap dash to the checkered flag following a green-flag restart less than 10 minutes from the finish.
“I thought maybe I would have a go at Max Angelelli in front of me if the speed was there,” Gurney said. “I pushed hard but he pulled away a little bit at the end, so that was it. We didn’t have the speed today. We were OK when we got spooled up, but it was pretty tough in traffic and we got out of pit sequence with the penalty.”
Next up for GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing and the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Cars Series is next Saturday’s Montreal 200 on Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal. The timed-two hour sprint on the 2.709-mile road course can be seen in same-day coverage on SPEED, Saturday, August 18, at 7 p.m. EDT/4 p.m. PDT. GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing, and Gurney and Fogarty, are the defending Montreal 200 winners.