Cristiano da Matta will make his first race start since his 2006 Champ Car accident this weekend as he makes he debut for the GAINSCO Racing team in the Grand-Am Rolex Series.

The Brazilian was left seriously injured following the accident at Road America when he hit a deer while testing for the RuSport team and underwent emergency surgery for a subdural haematoma before starting the long road to recovery.

Having had the chance to test the #98 Pontiac Riley he will share with Jimmy Vasser, da Matta will now return to racing at Laguna Seca, a circuit where has tasted success in the past in both Indy Lights and the Champ Car World Series.

With nearly two years out of action, he admitted he couldn't wait to return to action.

"I've had enough vacation, man," he said. "It's very nice to get back to work. The GAINSCO team and Bob Stallings were the only ones who gave me a chance to drive. Many other teams said come back after I did some races with somebody else, but only Bob and GAINSCO gave me a chance. I can't thank them enough."

The event will mark the first time that the Bob Stallings Racing-run team has run two cars in Rolex Series competition, with defending series champions Jon Fogarty and Alex Gurney continuing at the wheel of the #99 car.

Laguna is the circuit where Gurney made his debut for the team in its first race and, along with team owner and then-driver Bob Stallings, he finished in sixth.

"I returned to racing in 2005 after two years away when GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing made its series debut at Laguna Seca, so it is a special place for us," he said. "We will always remember being quickest on our first day and we want that tradition to continue this weekend.

"We've had some terrible luck lately, but the speed of the car is there and the team is performing well, so we believe wins are coming. I'll have a big contingent of family and friends attending, so it's the perfect weekend to get back into victory lane."

 

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