Alex Gurney took the lead on a four-wide pass on lap 65 of 81 and then held off Michael Valiante in a sprint to the finish to capture the Bosch Engineering 250 at Virginia International Raceway.
It was the ninth victory for Gurney and GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing co-driver Jon Fogarty in the #99 Pontiac Riley, as Gurney led the final 17 laps, winning by 0.705secs over Valiante's #6 Michael Shank Racing Ford Riley. Darren Law and David Donohue, winners of the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona, finished third in the #58 Brumos Racing Porsche Riley.
Valiante and Scott Pruett, in the #01 TELMEX Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley, pressured Gurney throughout the closing laps, although all three cars were unsure of having enough fuel to compete the two-and-three-quarter hour distance on the challenging 3.27-mile ViR circuit. However, with twelve minutes remaining, Andy Wallace went off in the #2 Gentleman Jack's Childress-Howard Motorsports Pontiac Crawford to bring out the fourth caution of the event.
That resulted in a three-lap sprint to the finish, with Gurney trying to hold off Valiante, Pruett, Donohue and Max Angelelli's #10 SunTrust Racing Ford Dallara. Donohue, Pruett and Angelelli ultimately made contact, with Angelelli going off course, before Gurney then held off Valiante over the final two laps to take the victory.
"It was a great day," said 2007 champion Gurney, "This is where we always aim to be. Our guys did some great work over the off-season, and did a lot of work after Daytona. We really made some big improvements. It was a typical Grand-Am race - really tough - and I was happy to be up there and winning. It was a great race for Michael Valiante. It was just an unlucky deal for him - I've been sitting in that position before."
Valiante led 15 laps in his second race for Michael Shank Racing, but admitted that he didn't quite have enough to snatch the advantage back when it mattered.
"I was trying to save fuel, but not enough to affect the outcome of the race," the Canadian said, "When the yellow flag came out, we were able to run hard to the end, but Alex had just a little bit more than me, and that made it difficult for me to get by. We had the car to beat for sure, but we came up on lapped traffic that allowed Alex to pull out and take the lead.
"I was able to keep the #99 behind me on my out-lap, but we had contact with a lapped car and that damaged the front of our car a little bit so, when we caught that traffic, there was nothing I could do to keep Alex from getting the lead. We had a lot of ground to make up after John [Pew] got knocked off track, and we were fast enough to run up front, but just didn't have the speed to get back in front It's tough to be that close and not get the win, but it's still great to get up here on the podium."
Donohue admitted that there was little he could do to avoid the contact that cost Pruett and Angelelli positions at the finish.