18 May 2009
Fogarty, Gurney win Laguna Festival of Speed
Jon Fogarty passed Scott Pruett at the entrance to the Corkscrew with 22 laps remaining and held on to give the #99 GAINSCO Pontiac Riley its second Grand-Am Rolex Series victory of the season in the Verizon Festival of Speed at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
Fogarty started and finished the 106-lap race, run under sunny skies and in 91-degree temperatures, while team-mate Alex Gurney drove the middle shift to give the team its tenth Rolex Series victory as it beat the polesitting #01 TELMEX Lexus Riley to the line by 7.228secs. However, while the success may have been the GAINSCO pairing's tenth together, it was the first time that Fogarty had been at the wheel when the flag fell.
"We weren't sure if I had been in the car the required 30 minutes to score points," he explained, "We considered leaving Alex in, but we figured, since it's early in the season, it was important for both of us to score points. Alex definitely took his pride when the team asked him to get out of the car. It wasn't our usual driver change, but we recouped thing and it worked out."
Polewinner Memo Rojas led the an event-high 44 laps for the #01, with Pruett pacing a further 20 as the champions tried to secure their first victory of the season, but Fogarty made his pass for the lead moments before the fourth and final caution, and then slowly pulled away after the final restart. Fogarty and Gurney are the only drivers with multiple DP victories this season.
"Scott got caught up in traffic in turn six - and your momentum gets killed at that part of the track," the double Atlantic champion revealed, "I had a good run and made it three-wide at that point. I got off into the gravel, but I was able to get back on the tarmac and out-braked him. I really almost didn't make it.
"He left me.... some room, but we got by and I stayed on the track. He left me just enough room down the front straight and knew he got boxed going through turn six. There's not much he could do. I think we had the pace on the #01 guys today, and that bodes well for the future, I think."
"We got caught up behind a GT car and had our momentum broken," Pruett confirmed, "It was good, hard racing. He got his nose in there and I couldn't do anything about it."
The victory allowed Fogarty and Gurney to take the Daytona Prototype points lead as Rolex 24 winners Darren Law and David Donohue could only finish eighth in the Brumos Porsche Riley, and drop eight points behind in the standings.
Behind Pruett, Max Angelelli finished third in the #10 SunTrust Ford Dallara started by Brian Frisselle, and was followed home by his co-driver's brother Burt (# 61 AIM Autosport Ford Riley) as he and team-mate Mark Wilkins claimed their best finish of 2009. Angelelli, however, felt that he could have been looking at possible runner-up honours.
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