TEAM NEWS: Fogarty makes it four with scorching pole lap at Daytona; Fourth consecutive pole, eighth-straight front row for GAINSCO team
Photo by John Rawley DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 5, 2007) -- Jon Fogarty showed the Daytona Prototype field how it's done this afternoon in qualifying for tonight's Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Brumos Porsche 250 at Daytona International Speedway, as he stuck the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Pontiac-powered Riley that he'll share with Alex Gurney solidly on the pole position -- and in the process, recording GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing's fourth Rolex Series pole in a row. Tonight, the team will look to take its third consecutive victory.
Fogarty's final lap of the 3.56-mile speedway road course was his fastest, setting a time of 1:44.043 at an average speed of 123.180 mph. But it wasn't as easy as the 1.035-second margin might make it look -- in fact, the 99 team nearly didn't get a chance to set a fast lap at all. A black-flag period took the middle of the 15-minute qualifying session out of the picture, coming out just as Fogarty was about to cross the stripe to complete his first timed lap. Had the black flag lasted just minutes longer, the timesheet could have looked much different. But Jon responded to the pressure, turning in a pair of blistering laps as the clock wound down to zero.
"I've got to credit Kyle Brannan, our engineer, because he did a really good job of getting me into a position where I could get two quick laps at speed without traffic," Fogarty said. "When I was out there on the fast lap, there were quite a few sketchy moments coming into the corners, but when I got to the apexes, the GAINSCO car would settle down and things would sort themselves out. I really wasn't certain what everyone else was doing, so I just laid it all out and did what I could to get the pole."
The GAINSCO team has now swept the two available Rolex Series poles this season at the World Center of Racing, as Gurney kicked off the season on the point of the Rolex 24 At Daytona back in January. The second-generation star said he has the utmost confidence in the No. 99 car, and that confidence translates into results on the track.
"We've slowly developed this car for the last three years now," Gurney said. "It's a great feeling, as a driver, to know that when you roll off the trailer, you'll have a car that's just a few changes away from being good anywhere. Jon, Kyle and I all know each other really well, and that translates ."
In just a few hours, Fogarty will face the challenge of 250 miles of racing against 17 other Daytona Prototypes and another 20-odd GT machines. Unpredictable Florida coastal weather could add another dimension -- a thunderstorm pelted the track during the second practice session. Both drivers, however, believe that whether or not the skies open up, they'll have a car to contend for the win.
"We don't know what the weather's going to do, but I think we're prepared, wet or dry," Fogarty said. "What we're looking for is a non-eventful race where we can bring the 99 car home where it started."
"The rain is a big question mark, but we're uber-fast in the dry and Jon's qualifying run showed that," Gurney said. "I'm looking forward to this evening."
Tonight at 8 p.m., Fogarty will lead the field to the green flag of the 70-lap, 250-mile or two-hour, 30-minute Brumos Porsche 250 at Daytona, finishing under the lights on the famed high banks.