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GAINSCO Boys Earn Pole In Jersey

John Sturbin | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, July 17 2010

The GAINSCO/Bob Stallings car is on the pole in Jersey. (File photo courtesy of the Grand-Am Series)

By John Sturbin/Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing will bid for its belated first victory of the 2010 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series season from the pole position Sunday, courtesy of Jon Fogarty’s record-extending qualifying effort at New Jersey Motorsports Park.

Fogarty claimed his Daytona Prototype record 15th pole Saturday during qualifying for the New Jersey Motorsports Park 250 presented by Crown Royal. Fogarty toured NJMP’s 2.5-mile, 12-turn Thunderbolt Raceway circuit in Millville, N.J., in 1:15.148 at 107.787 mph to edge Sun Trust Racing’s Ricky Taylor (1:15.416 at 107.404 mph) for P1.

Sunday’s 2-hour, 45-minute timed race, Round 9 of 12 on the schedule, will be televised live on SPEED at 1 p.m. (EDT). Live radio coverage by the Motor Racing Network (MRN) and Sirius NASCAR Radio Channel 128 begins at 12:45 p.m.

“I‘m really excited to have this first pole of the season,” said Fogarty, whose most recent pole was scored during the 2009 Grand Prix of Miami finale. “I was pushing hard and I knew that tire management would be a little bit of a concern with the extreme heat. You need to get your lap done early in the qualifying session here and we were able to do that. I got sent out by the team in a clean spot on the track and went for it.”

Fogarty stayed in the pits for the first five minutes of the quick 15-minute qualifying session before stringing together a run of increasingly faster laps. Fogarty’s fourth and final flyer gave the two-time/ reigning DP team and driver champions a much-needed boost in what has been a winless year.

“We have had a trying season and it just wears on you,” said Fogarty, who shares the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Chevrolet Riley with Alex Gurney. “We have never given up and never stopped pushing as hard as possible, but it does wear on you, so this just feels great. Everybody has obviously got a little bit of pick-up in their step and we’ve been working on the car, with Chevrolet and with everybody to put together a package capable of being on the front row, and we maximized it. It’s good, poles are great, but we obviously want to look forward to the end of the day (Sunday).”

GAINSCO’s last race win was in the penultimate round of 2009’s championship season at Miller Motorsports Park in Utah, where Fogarty and Gurney won from the pole. The team’s best result this year has been a single third-place finish in March’s Grand Prix of Miami at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Taylor, who co-drives the No. 10 SunTrust Ford Dallara with Italian veteran Max Angelelli, posted his third consecutive front-row qualifying effort and fourth in his last six attempts. Taylor, 20, qualified on-pole for the second time this season two weekends ago at the Brumos Porsche 250 at Daytona International Speedway. Professionally, Taylor said Saturday’s session was a bigger kick.

“That was the epitome of a qualifying session,” said Taylor, who earned his first career Rolex Series pole at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala., in April. “It was flat-out, 110 percent every single lap. It was a lot of fun. I could hear Simon Hodgson (Wayne Taylor Racing team manager) on the radio the whole time. Unfortunately, at the end it wasn’t, ‘Jon (Fogarty) is behind you.’ It was, ‘Jon’s up by two-tenths,’ and I had two laps to do it. The laps were winding down and the tires were falling off and it didn’t happen. But I’m just really happy to have the SunTrust car on the front row again, and looking forward to the race.”

Mark Wilkins qualified third in the No. 61 AIM Autosport Ford Riley, while Memo Rojas put the series-leading No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates BMW Riley fourth on the grid.

While Saturday’s qualifying effort bodes well for the GAINSCO Boys, ongoing hot and humid temperatures in the mid-90s admittedly will be a challenge for the entire field.

“Jon did a perfect job, but it’s a long day (Sunday) and we have a lot of strategy to go over,” Gurney said. “The car is fast and hopefully we will be able to take it to them. Tire management will be a big deal and there are a couple of corners here where it is difficult to put the power down, so it asks a lot of the tires. Not much straightaway either, so you don’t get much cooling effect.”

The No. 99 team stands fifth in the championship standings with 196 points but trails the second-place Wayne Taylor Racing entry by just 14 points. Taylor, son of team-owner Wayne Taylor, knows track position will be crucial from the drop of the green flag.

“One of the things Simon was saying on the radio was, ‘We don’t want to start on the outside,’^” Taylor said. “So I knew we had to do the lap because there are two consecutive right-hand corners (in Turns 1 and 2) and you can lose ground there if you’re on the outside. I guess we’ll just go at it and, if I have a chance on the outside, I guess I’ll take that chance. If not, I’ll just try to slot in behind and hold my position.”

Fogarty, who has combined with Gurney for 12 career DP wins, is convinced the No. 99 “Red Dragon” finally is performing to preseason expectations. “I’m just pleased for what that means for our prospects in the race,” Fogarty said. “It’s just a positive all the way around, regardless of records and what-not.”

The top-five in qualifying:

1. GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing (No. 99 Chevrolet Riley) with Jon Fogarty and Alex Gurney (1:15.148 at 107.787 mph)

2. SunTrust Racing (No. 10 Ford Dallara) with Ricky Taylor and Max Angelelli (1:15.416 at 107.404 mph)

3. AIM Autosport (No. 61 Ford Riley) with Mark Wilkins and Burt Frisselle (1:15.489 at 107.300 mph)

4. Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates (No. 01 BMW Riley) with Memo Rojas and Scott Pruett (1:15.671 at 107.042 mph)

5. Krohn Racing (No. 75 Ford Lola) with Nic Jonsson and Tracy Krohn (1:15.861 at 106.774 mph)

– John Sturbin can be reached at jsturbin@racintoday.com

John Sturbin | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, July 17 2010
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