Grand AM » 06 July 2007
Gurney, Fogarty fight for four at Daytona.
Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty stamped their names in the Daytona record books, and all over the Grand-Am Rolex Series championship, with a third straight win in the competition - and a fourth of the year - with success in Thursday's Brumos Porsche 250.
The duo - who had not won a Grand-Am race before this year's Mexico City round - took the #99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Riley-Pontiac from pole to Victory Lane, but did it the hard way as Fogarty was forced to mount a comeback after being hit with a questionable stop-and-go penalty on lap 15.
The punishment, issued to Fogarty for what Grand-Am officials called 'avoidable contact' with the #23 and # 01 cars, dropped the GAINSCO machine back to 15th but, with 54 laps left in the 250-mile encounter, team owner Bob Stallings told his crew that they'd overcome greater obstacles, and had a car that 'could salvage a solid finish'. Determined to do more than scoop some points, however, Fogarty scythed through the field, grabbing third place on lap 43 before handing over to Gurney, setting fastest lap along the way.
After further good work from the Gurney, a fast final pit-stop sent the #99 car back out in the lead and, from there, the team never looked back , as Gurney sailed under the chequered flag some 7.48secs ahead of second-placed Max Angelelli's #10 SunTrust Racing machine.
“We're in the history books now,” an exuberant Gurney said afterwards, “It feels awesome to win at this track, a place with so much history, where my dad won one of the first sportscar 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 out-lap 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 chequers.”
Fogarty was equally proud of the GAINSCO team's drive and determination after the penalty was assessed, claiming that, after he had brought the #99 machine down pit-road for the penalty, he 'didn't really think about it' and just focused on driving back to the front.
“I drove the wheels off it - I tried to channel my anger into speed,” the to-time Atlantic champion explained, “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.”
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