Friday
Apr272007

GRAND AM NEWS: Gurney Posts Quickest Time in Test Day at Virginia International Raceway

Photo by John Thawley ALTON, Va. (April 27, 2007) – Driving the No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Pontiac Riley, Alex Gurney posted the quickest lap in Friday’s track test day in preparation for Sunday’s Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve VIR 400 at Virginia International Raceway (SPEED, Live, 1:00 p.m. ET).

Gurney logged a best lap at 1:45.766 (111.302 mph) in the second of the day’s two test sessions, which was nearly a full second quicker than his next closest competitor. Gurney and co-driver Jon Fogarty already own one victory in 2007 with their first-ever Rolex Series triumph in March’s Mexico City 400k, and the No. 99 machine has started from the front row for all three previous rounds of the 2007 Rolex Series.

“I love this place,” Gurney said. “We got a great start and the GAINSCO car is obviously working pretty well. Last year, we had a strong car here, so we didn’t have to do anything special, just a few tweaks, really. Jon and I are really happy—we learned a lot today for sure, and we can even fine-tune a bit more tomorrow. As for the gap, I’m pretty surprised because normally, it’s not like that. But we’ll take it.”

Second-quick on the day and quickest in the first session was Patrick Long in the No. 23 Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team Porsche Crawford at 1:46.701 (110.327 mph). Long is the defending champion of the VIR 400, having scored a dramatic victory alongside then-co-driver Mike Rockenfeller last season. This year, Long is sharing the ride with 2006 Daytona Prototype champion Jörg Bergmeister, and the duo heads into Sunday’s race in search of its first victory of the year and the team’s first win since last year’s thriller at VIR.

Driving for Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates for the first time this weekend, Canadian standout Michael Valiante posted the day’s third-quickest time in the No. 19 Z-Line Designs/Mission Residential/Make-A-Wish Lexus Riley with a lap at 1:46.752 (110.274 mph). Valiante and co-driver Rob Finlay switched to the Ganassi operation after spending all of last season and the first three races of this season with Finlay Motorsports. The duo is still in search of its first Rolex Series victory.

Max Papis was fourth-quickest in the No. 75 Krohn Racing Pontiac Riley with a lap at 1:46.792 (110.233 mph). Papis is making his third Rolex Series appearance at VIR this weekend with a previous best result of second in 2004 after starting from the pole position. The 2004 Daytona Prototype co-champion is once again sharing the car this weekend with 18-year-old Colin Braun.

Scott Pruett completed the top five in the No. 01 TELMEX/Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley with a best lap at 1:46.878 (110.144 mph). Pruett—who shared the 2004 Daytona Prototype title with Papis—has finished on the podium in all three of his previous Rolex Series appearances at VIR with a victory in 2005. Pruett leads the Daytona Prototype driver standings and will again share the No. 01 machine with Mexican racer Memo Rojas.

« GRAND AM NEWS: PUMPELLY SETS FAST TIME IN FRIDAY’S ROLEX SERIES TEST AT VIR | Main | TEAM NEWS: Challenge of VIRginia lures GAINSCO duo back into action for fast-paced, split-class VIR 400k »

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