Sunday
Jun102007

GRAND AM NEWS: Gurney and Fogarty First Repeat 2007 Winners in Saturday’s Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen

Photo by John Thawley WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (June 9, 2007) – Polesitter Alex Gurney and co-driver Jon Fogarty became the first pair of drivers to record multiple Daytona Prototype victories in the 2007 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve season Saturday with a win in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen at Watkins Glen International.

Rebounding from an unscheduled pit stop which dropped them as low as 16th, Gurney passed Scott Pruett with 25 minutes remaining in the six-hour classic (Lap 153 of 167) to cruise to a 7.069-second victory in the No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Pontiac Riley. The checkered flag officially flew at six hours, one minute and 45 seconds.

Fogarty and Gurney broke a record streak which saw five different winners in victory lane to start a season. The pair also won at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City in March, and the duo has started all six races from the front row this season. Saturday’s win at The Glen, however, marked this season's first Rolex Series win for a polesitter.

“I’m very happy for everyone on the GAINSCO team, because we all did an amazing job all weekend and that enabled Jon and I to capitalize on the really good car they gave us,” Gurney said. “I have to give (engineer) Kyle Brannan a huge compliment because it's thanks to him that we put together a car that was this fast and this comfortable to drive.”

Gurney led for the first 35 laps before bringing the race car in with overheating issues after a brief off-course excursion clogged the front grill with grass and dirt, just a few laps after his first scheduled stop. He returned nearly a lap behind the leaders but he and Fogarty steadily worked their way back to the front. Gurney retook the lead on Lap 140 after passing Ian James in the No. 6 Playboy Lexus Riley, but when the final of eight cautions came out – due to oil on the track and the stopped No. 72 Tafel Racing Tornos/Dunkel Bros Porsche GT3 car of Nathan Swartzbaugh – Gurney dove into the pits and Pruett took the lead.

Gurney challenged Pruett immediately after the green flag dropped, and passed for the final time going into Turn 1. Together, Gurney and Fogarty led more than half (91) of the laps on the 3.4-mile track.

“As far as our execution in the car and setting up the car and pit stops, we’ve been doing extremely well,” Fogarty said. “We’re still developing in the race environment, but the team is young and we’re hungry. We’re hoping to take this victory and move on, and produce even more as we go forward.”

Pruett also had troubles early and recovered from a Lap 1 trip through a gravel trap that put him two laps down. But Pruett patiently drove his two stints, moving into the top 15 before Rojas took over. Rojas made it into the top 10 without problems, and Pruett finally took the lead when Gurney pitted for the final time. Pruett did his best to keep Gurney behind, but didn’t interfere when Gurney made the winning pass.

“We got two laps down early but we just kept digging all day,” said Pruett, who extended his point lead to seven over Max Angelelli (180-173). “The car was good. I thought we had the second best car out there. We ran well all day long, and we got everything we could out of the car. There is no question you have to finish well to get the championship. We did that today.”

For Pruett and Rojas, it marked their second straight runner-up finish. The pair also finished second at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca last month.

“I think the team did a very good job,” Rojas said. “We’ve just got to keep working hard to get that second victory of the season.”

Angelelli was a contender throughout the afternoon, leading 15 laps and setting some of the No. 10 SunTrust Racing Pontiac Riley's fastest times during the second half of the race. But two costly restart violations earned him stop-and-go penalties, and he didn’t have enough laps to catch the lead duo and earn himself and co-drivers Jonathan Cochet and team owner Wayne Taylor the victory.

“We had a good car today,” Angelelli said. “Finally we sorted out our setup between yesterday and this morning. With the hard work by the team and by our other drivers Wayne and Jonathan, I felt like we could have definitely won the race or come closer. They (the No. 99 and No. 01 teams) had great cars today, too. But we were right there with them, even with the penalties. It’s very frustrating, to say the least.”

Earning fourth was James and co-driver John Pew. James quietly worked his way into contention and led twice for 10 laps before Gurney got by. It marked the third straight top-10 finish for the car and first top-five result for the team in 2007.

No. 76 Krohn Racing Pontiac Riley teammates Nic Jönsson and Tracy Krohn battled a variety of problems as well to come home with a fifth-place result, also a season-best for the team and their third top 10 of 2007. The team had to be pushed to the grid and out of pit lane during pit stops at several points during the race.

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