GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing and its team of champion drivers Alex Gurney, Jon Fogarty, Jimmy Vasser and Jimmie Johnson will be looking to become the first all-American driver line-up to win overall in the Rolex 24 At Daytona in 16 years this weekend.
GAINSCO returns with the same talented foursome determined to improve on 2008's second-place Rolex 24 finish while bringing victory in America's premier endurance race back home to the United States.
An all-American team of drivers has never won the Rolex 24 overall since the introduction of the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series in 2000 and you have to go all the way back to the 1993 race to find the last time home-grown talent took top honours.
Fittingly, that race was won by the AAR (All American Racers) Toyota Eagle GTP that was entered and run by Gurney's legendary father and AAR owner Dan Gurney and driven by Americans PJ Jones, Rocky Moran and Mark Dismore.
"It would be very special to win this race with an all-American line-up," said Alex Gurney, who grew up watching the success of his father's AAR team in several different racing series. "I guess that has never been done in Grand-Am so it would be something that we could all take pride in. We would have to beat many of the best of the best from all around the world but that is what would make it all the more meaningful."
While the line-up for the #99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Pontiac Riley is just one of two all-American driving teams in the premier Daytona Prototype category, GAINSCO's red, white and blue DNA goes much deeper than that.
The team's pit crew is made up entirely of Americans and the #99 GAINSCO race car is a U.S. made Riley XX powered by a Detroit-built Pontiac engine, a full-race version of GM's iconic small-block V8 that is an American legend in its own right. Taking all of those factors into account, a top-to-bottom all-American team - U.S. drivers, crew, race car and engine - has yet to win overall in the long history of Daytona's 24 hour classic.
"When you look at it from that perspective, it is almost humbling to think that GAINSCO can make some real history this weekend," Fogarty said. "After coming so close last year and having AG on the pole in 2007, our motivation is way high as it is, but to think we can make American history in one of our great races is almost daunting. It's not going to change how we go about our race but it would sure make winning that much sweeter."
Vasser and Johnson are key components of GAINSCO's assault on the Rolex 24. First as a champion driver and now as a team owner, Vasser has been one of the premier Americans on the IndyCar scene for nearly 20 years.