WATKINS GLEN, July 6, 2012: GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing, and drivers Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty, scored a finish they needed but not quite the result they wanted Saturday in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen where the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Corvette Daytona Prototype led more than 50 laps and Gurney set the race’s fastest lap en route to second place finish.
The podium result was GAINSCO’s second of the year and first in more than three months after a second-place finish at Barber Motorsports Park in late March was followed by a tough-luck stretch that saw the team fail to finish three of the last five races.
All of that appeared to be a distant memory Sunday, however, as Fogarty (25 laps) and Gurney (30 laps) combined to lead 55 laps and the No. 99 GAINSCO “Red Dragon” was up front and in control of the race in the sixth and final hour. Gurney was leading a tight train of five race cars that included a fast-closing Joao Barbosa in the No. 9 Action Express CorvetteDaytona Prototype. Barbosa caught Gurney in traffic with less than 20 minutes remaining in the race and then withstood a final late rally by the No. 99 that crossed the finish line in second place just .238 of a second behind.
“It feels good to be back in victory lane,” Gurney said. “It’s a long race, so it shows the team can do it and we can be reliable, but I am definitely disappointed not to win. We were in good shape most of the day, worked our way to the front, and at the end of the race we were leading for a while but I caught a GT car at really the worst place on the track for me. It was a corner where I didn’t feel like we were very hooked up and Joao was, he got a good run and got by me. I managed to claw back and get right behind him in at least the last few corners but couldn’t get close enough to make the pass.”
Gurney’s furious attempt to get the lead back in the waning minutes saw him post the fastest race lap time of 1:42.774 (119.096 mph) just seven laps from the end of what turned out to be a 182-lap race on the 3.4-mile Watkins Glen Grand Prix circuit.
Although both Gurney and Fogarty led a lap or two during pit stop sequences in the race’s opening hours, GAINSCO first took control of the race when Fogarty led 21 straight laps in the fourth hour. He stretched his lead to as much as 18 seconds before handing the No. 99 off to Gurney for the final time 90 minutes from the finish.
“We are just really happy to be back on the podium,” Fogarty said. “The GAINSCO guys have been working hard all year and we have just had a lot of things not go our way. We came up a little bit short today but after the kind of season we have had, it’s definitely a step in the right direction. We had a great car, we didn’t qualify very well, but we kind of made wholesale changes between qualifying and the race and luckily dialed it in this morning in the half-hour warm-up session. It was just a good race and pretty exciting there at the end, but a good clean race, happy to be on the podium but disappointed not to win.”
GAINSCO also dodged a bullet early on when the team and drivers successfully overcame a power steering problem with the No. 99.
“We kind of did everything right all day but we did have an issue with the power steering for a while, it was overheating so we couldn’t really use it like we normally do,” Gurney said. “In the beginning it seemed pretty dramatic but as soon as we turned the power steering assist down to the lowest setting it was better and the temperature got down to just borderline. So, we tried to run it there for as long as we could and it worked. It wasn’t really a major issue later in the race.”
The Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen ended a tough stretch of four races in the last five weeks in which GAINSCO had posted no finish better than a fourth-place result in Detroit.
“It’s a great result for the team that we certainly needed and these six-hour races are tough,” Gurney said. “There’s a lot of strategy and pit stops, you have got to do everything right, and today we were almost perfect.”
Although Fogarty did put GAINSCO on the pole in the June races at Detroit and Mid-Ohio, he also knew how important it was to close out the recent stretch with a strong race finish.
“All in all we had a good day,” Fogarty said. “You have got to be pretty much perfect to win one of these things. We were, for the most part, just good strategy and good pit stops all day, so just good to be back.”