The GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing team finally broke its Grand-Am hoodoo by posting a first Daytona Prototype victory in round two of the Rolex Series at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City.
Jon Fogarty and Alex Gurney drove a hard race to chase down the polewinning Krohn Racing Riley-Pontiac Riley and, having swapped the lead with the green car three times in the final 13 laps, put their similar #99 GAINSCO machine in a position to snatch the lead of the Mexico City 400k with two laps remaining.
The Max Angelelli/Jan Magnussen SunTrust Riley came through from sixth on the grid to claim the final podium position while, in GT, the pole winning Sylvain Tremblay/Nick Ham pairing gave the Mazda RX-8 its first win in the series.
After taking over the #99 machine from Fogarty during a lap 60 pit-stop, Gurney found himself trailing Krohn's Max Papis by as much as twelve seconds. Without the benefit of a full-course caution, Gurney managed to chip away at the deficit and finally caught the Italian with 15 laps remaining to the chequered flag. Taking advantage of slower traffic that bottled Papis up, Gurney first took the lead with a door-banging pass in turn six on lap 88 of the scheduled 100.
Former Daytona Prototype champion Papis was not about to give up the lead lightly, however, and quickly took up the chase. When Gurney was then slowed by lapped traffic coming onto the front straight, the Italian pounced and won a drag race with the #99 to retake the lead with five laps remaining.
Just as Papis had done, however, Gurney also kept the pressure on, ensuring a fight to the finish and, on lap 97, Papis succumbed, spinning out in turn five and handing the lead to the American, who went on to win - at the same circuit where father Dan had triumphed in F1 in 1964 - by 7.359secs.
“Jon handed the car to me in second so we knew we had a chance,” the Daytona 24 Hours polewinner said, "The track was working well at the beginning of my stint but, after I got by Max, I though I was going to pull away.
"Max was super-quick after that though and, when we caught a GT car in turn eight and he got by, it was like a dagger in my heart. Unfortunately for him - but lucky for us - he had a little problem a few laps later, and we were able to get back by. I couldn't be happier for Bob Stallings, GAINSCO and the whole team.”
It was also the first Rolex Series victory for Fogarty, who ran the bulk of his stint in second position, chasing teenage polesitter Colin Braun and only getting a sniff of the lead for three laps when the Krohn driver pitted before him.
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