Crash.Net Grand AM News
GAINSCO/BSR ready for Rolex 24 test
8 January 2010
Two-time reigning Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Champions GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing and drivers Alex Gurney, Jon Fogarty and Jimmy Vasser will kick off their 2010 racing season this weekend at the Roar Before The Rolex 24 Test Days At Daytona International Speedway.
GAINSCO, Gurney and Fogarty won the 2009 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Daytona Prototype Team and Driver Championships and the team now has its sights set firmly on a victory in America's premier endurance race.
GAINSCO has won two of the last three GRAND-AM Rolex Series Championships but is still looking for its first Rolex 24 victory after coming close in recent years.
“It would mean a great deal to win the Rolex 24,” said Gurney, who won the pole for the 2007 race. “Having won two titles with GAINSCO, I think Jon and I feel like we've established ourselves in the series. We hope to continue that for a long time. The 24 Hour is our marquee event and I think to win it shows the true mettle of the team.
“And I know it's a big goal of Bob Stallings to win the 24, it has been from the inception of the team, and it is a big goal for all of us as drivers.”
Although Chevrolet has replaced Pontiac as the engine of choice in the #99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Chevy Riley, the team is returning for the third consecutive year at the Rolex 24 with the proven driver line up of Gurney, Fogarty, Vasser and four-time reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson.
The core of the GAINSCO/Bob Stallings team and pit crew that was at the foundation of the 2009 championships is also returning this season.
“With the continuation of an existing excellent programme and our relationship now with Chevrolet, I think we have a great opportunity to start the season off strong,” Fogarty said. “The Rolex 24 is kind of the crown jewel of the season and ultimately a win here is what he we want. So it's a pretty ideal situation with the consistency of our driver line up and our crew and our car and I think is going to be very strong.”
Although Johnson will not join the team until the opening day of Rolex 24 practice at Daytona on Thursday, January 28, Gurney, Fogarty and all on the team are happy to have the familiar group back for the Rolex 24. The team-mates finished second in their first Rolex 24 together with GAINSCO in 2008 and backed it up with a seventh-place finish last January in the 2009 edition of America's premier endurance race.
“I love that we're going back with the same team, Jon and Jimmie and Jimmy,” Gurney said. “You know, we've all become really good friends. To attack this race together and really go into it knowing that we've all got each other's backs can be totally open about everything is a great way to go into this race and try to win it.”
Vasser is back for a fifth consecutive season as GAINSCO's main endurance race specialist and the team has never contested a Rolex 24 without the 1996 CART Champ Car World Series champion on the roster.
“I want to thank Bob, Alex and Jon who have the confidence in me to bring me back to the GAINSCO team again,” said Vasser, who scored a 1992 Rolex 24 class win in the GTP Lights division. “It's going to be a year since I've driven, so I'm flattered that that confidence is there with these guys, but you see that type of thinking with Bob's GAINSCO team. You see it with Hendrick Motorsports, you see it with Ganassi and all of the great dynasty style teams. The key ingredient is continuity and chemistry and I am proud to be a part of it.”
GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing will debut its new Chevy engine this weekend after the team won 12 races and two Grand-Am Rolex Series Championships in the final three seasons of a nearly five-year partnership with Pontiac. The 5-litre GM engine now in the #99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance “Red Dragon” Daytona Prototype is similar to the previous Pontiac power plant and also lets GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing continue as one of the few all-American teams in all of motorsports.
“I'm definitely hung up on American things,” said team owner Bob Stallings, who was part of the driver line up in GAINSCO's first Rolex 24 At Daytona race in 2006.
“I like American teammates, American drivers, and American manufacturers. And so having an American made car was a pretty big deal for me, not to mention the fact the GM provides a very reliable and competitive motor.”