TEAM NEWS: Mid-Ohio marks halfway point in GAINSCO team's championship quest

Photo by John Thawley LEXINGTON, Ohio (June 21, 2007) -- In Saturday's EMCO Gears Classic at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, the seventh of 14 rounds on the 2007 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series calendar, Alex Gurney, Jon Fogarty and the GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing team will seek to score their second consecutive win and, in doing so, close up a 30-point gap that separates the pair from the Rolex Series drivers' championship lead.

Gurney and Fogarty, pilots of the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Pontiac Riley, moved into fourth in the standings with their dominating victory in the Sahlen's Six Hours of the Glen two weeks ago. It's a big jump up to the leaders, but with a consistent run of strong performances through the remaining eight races, both believe they still have a chance to score the team's first-ever sports car racing title.

"The GAINSCO team is on a roll and coming off our win at the Glen, we're all full of confidence. It's an exciting time for us," Gurney said. "That said, we know our competitors do not sit still, so we will be pushing as hard as we can to try and reach the top spot again. But we've had a great car here the last two years and I'm sure we would have won last year if the top two cars hadn't got lucky on fuel strategy. We have the championship in mind, but we want to win."

Both drivers love the twisting, rolling 2.25-mile circuit they'll compete on this weekend. In fact, Fogarty says it's one of the greatest. With big elevation changes, tricky corners and not much runoff, it's unforgiving and demanding of great precision. That plays right into the GAINSCO team's hands.

"Mid-Ohio is one of America's best natural terrain road courses, and it's a track that I certainly enjoy driving," he said. "I'm looking forward to taking another shot at the pole, and keeping our front-row qualifying streak alive."

Gurney agreed -- "Both Jon and I know this circuit very well, and I love the mix of corners and elevation changes. It's great fun," he said.

It's a circuit that has been good to the GAINSCO team historically, as well -- dating back to team owner Bob Stallings' championship drive in the 2004 SCCA National Championship Runoffs, where he captured the Formula Atlantic amateur title -- with Gurney as his driving coach. But in racing, as in business, past performance is no guarantee of future results.

"We love this track, Jon and Alex have spent a lot of time here in open-wheel cars and of course I won a championship here myself, but we know that this series is full of strong competitors and it won't be an easy race by any means," Stallings said. "That said, our engineer, Kyle Brannan, knows this track quite well and we've always been fast here, so if we unload today with a good setup, I think we'll be tough to beat again. But we still need to move up two spots in the championship, and to do that we've got to keep our heads down, stay focused on that goal and finish close to the top everywhere."

Thinking of the championship, Fogarty said the key will be running this race -- and indeed, the rest of the season -- with as few unforced mistakes as possible.

"We have to be on our toes and be error-free every time if we want to come away with maximum points," he said. "I'm eager to meet the challenge."

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