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Rolex champs take second.

Rolex Series champions GAINSCO Racing battled back from a gearbox problem early on Sunday morning to secure a strong second place finish in the season opening Rolex 24 at Daytona.

Defending champions Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty were joined in the Bob Stallings Racing-run by Jimmie Johnson and Jimmy Vasser and could well have fought for victory had it not been for the gearbox change that cost the team ten valuable minutes on Sunday morning.

Fogarty was in the middle of his second stint of the race just before sunrise on Sunday when the gearbox woes began, and despite the fact he was closing in on race leader Memo Rojas, the problems started to get worse.

Soon after Vasser took over at 7:30am, the gearbox became even more difficult and the #99 Lowe's/GAINSCO Auto Insurance Pontiac Riley was taken to the garage under green flag conditions for the one and only time in the race.

Ten minutes later, Vasser was back on track six laps down in sixth place with the team then starting its charge back through the field, with Johnson back into second just before the 21st hour and Gurney then holding station to the flag as the gap to the race-winning Ganassi entry dropped to two laps by the finish.

"I am proud of everybody on the entire Lowe's and GAINSCO team," team owner Bob Stallings said. "We had a championship lineup of drivers and they did exactly what was asked of them all day long.

"Everybody on the team did an amazing job but unfortunately our gearbox didn't. My guess is that if we would have changed the gearbox under yellow instead of green, we probably would have won, but you make your best decisions and run with it.

"It was a little bit chaotic. We were all arguing for about 15 minutes on if we should stay out because Jon was in the car and was gaining on Rojas. We left him out there but then the problems started to get worse and we made the decision to switch."

Despite the narrow loss, the result was a vast improvement on twelve months ago when Gurney qualified on pole only for the team to hit a multitude of problems that left it with a seasons low finish of 22nd and with work to do for the remainder of gthe season.

It also helped the team bounce back from a challenging time in both pre-event testing and qualifying, with Fogarty admitting it had been a fine start to the title defence.

"We were a little discouraged from our test days and our qualifying efforts," he said. "We were all looking one another in the eye and telling each other a top-five finish would be great. We were convincing ourselves of that, but each and every one of us knew we were fooling one another and wanted to win this damn thing.

"It's good. This is a championship we are after and we're certainly in a good position for that."


Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Fogarty/Gurney/Vasser/Johnson - GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Riley-Pontiac   [pic credit: grand-am.com]
Max Angelelli / Jordan Taylor. GRAND-AM Championship Weekend Presented by BMW at Lime Rock Park. 2013 Grand AM Rolex Sports Car Series
Max Angelelli / Jordan Taylor. Continental Tire Sports Car Festival. Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. 2013 Grand AM Rolex Sports Car Series
Action. VisitFlorida.com Sports Car 250 at Road America. Grand AM Rolex Sports Car Series [Pic credit: Grand AM]
Starworks Motorsport BMW/Riley duo Brendon Hartley and Scott Mayer celebrate their first Grand AM Rolex Sports Car Series victory at Road America [Pic credit: Grand AM]
Max Angelelli and Jordan Taylor drive the #10 Velocity Worldwide Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette Daytona Prototype to victory Saturday, April 6, 2013 in the third race of the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama. (Photo by Brian Cleary for Chevrolet)
Max Angelelli and Jordan Taylor drive the #10 Velocity Worldwide Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette Daytona Prototype (left) to victory Saturday, April 6, 2013 in the third race of the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama. Alex Gurney and Jo Fogarty, drivers of the #99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Corvette DP (right) finish in second place. (Photo by Brian Cleary for Chevrolet)
John Edwards and Robin Liddell, drivers of the # 57 Stevenson Motorsports Camaro GT.R., race to victory Saturday, April 6, 2013 in the Grand Touring (GT) class of the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama. (Photo by Brian Cleary for Chevrolet)
Juan Pablo Montoya, Memo Rojas, Scott Pruett and Charlie Kimball, co-drivers of the #01 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates TELMEX/Target Ford BMW Riley celebrate their win in victory lane at the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway on January 27, 2013 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Rolex Series action [Pic credit: Grand-Am]
Alex Popow and Sebastian Bourdais, drivers of the #2 Ford Riley, celebrate in Victory Lane after wininng the Grand-AM Rolex Sports Car Series Inaugural Brickyard Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 27, 2012, in Indianapolis, Ind. (Photo Credit: Tyler Barrick/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Alex Popow and Sebastien Bourdais, drivers of the #2 Soloson Ford Riley, celebrate after winning the Grand-AM Rolex Sports Car Series inaugural Brickyard Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 27, 2012, in Indianapolis, Ind. (Photo Credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images for NASCAR)
The winning #60 Michael Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian Ford Riley car is brought into victory lane after a gruelling 50th anniversary Rolex 24 at Daytona. [Picture Credit: Daytona International Speedway]
Action Express win the Rolex 24 [Pic credit: Grand Am]
Derek Johnston [Pic credit: Grand Am]
Vic Elford, the 2010 Rolex 24 At Daytona Grand Marshal (Photo credit: Motorsports Images and Archives)
The No. 09 Spirit of Daytona Porsche Coyote that will be tested by 2009 Radical European Masters Champion Derek Johnston at Virginia International Raceway
Fogarty/Gurney - GAINSCO Racing [Pic credit: Grand Am]

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