Friday
Jun222007

GRAND AM NEWS: Fogarty Extends Daytona Prototype Front Row Starting Streak to Seven For EMCO Gears Classic at Mid-Ohio

Photo by John Thawley LEXINGTON, Ohio (June 22, 2007) – Jon Fogarty gave the No. 99 Bob Stallings Racing GAINSCO Pontiac Riley its seventh consecutive front row start Friday in Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve qualifying for Saturday’s EMCO Gears Classic presented by KeyBank at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. The pole was the team’s fourth in Daytona Prototype competition of 2007.

Fogarty, who co-drives with Alex Gurney, recorded a time of 1:18.374 (103.718 mph), completing only three laps during the 15-minute session late Friday afternoon. Fogarty outlasted Christian Fittipaldi, who consistently notched faster lap times throughout the session. It also broke Max Papis’ three-year qualifying track record by more than a second.

Fogarty and Gurney, the only two Daytona Prototype drivers with multiple Daytona Prototype victories in 2007, have each scored two poles this season. The pair also has momentum on their side as they combined to win the recent Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen earlier this month at Watkins Glen International in New York.

“It was close,” said Fogarty, who finished third last year at Mid-Ohio. “Christian Fittipaldi kept getting faster and faster in the No. 39 car, but we didn’t want to run on our race tires for too long, so we had to get it done early. The car was very good. I’m happy for the GAINSCO Auto Insurance team. Alex (Gurney) and I both work in concert for getting the car good. I can’t take all the credit. It’s good to start up front, because I think track position will be pretty important here.”

The run was a good one for the No. 39 Cheever Racing Crown Royal Special Reserve Porsche Fabcar, which was involved in a six-car incident in Thursday’s promoter test day following a short period of rain. Like several others in front of him, Fittipaldi – who co-drives with Harrison Brix – hit a slick spot in Turn 9 of the 13-turn track, sliding off and hitting the No. 05 Luggage Express Team Sigalsport BMW Riley. The Porsche came to a stop before being rear ended by another car, forcing the No. 39 to hit the BMW again. The crew began working on the car immediately after the incident and did not complete their work until 3:30 a.m. Friday.

“I was a little bit surprised at the No. 99, but we got beat fair and square,” said Fittipaldi, who was among the fastest in Friday’s two practice sessions. “We definitely had it all together for qualifying, but I’m still happy, considering all the problems we’ve had. It was a great effort from the team. We basically had to rebuild this car completely yesterday. I think it¹s a good position to start for the race.”

Another team which scored its best starting spot of the season was the No. 58 Brumos Porsche Red Bull Porsche Riley, which Darren Law piloted to third quickest in the session at 1:19.012 (102.881 mph). Law and co-driver David Donohue are looking to improve on their season-best finish of third in April at Virginia International Raceway.

“It was a nice run,” Law said. “We’ve been running real well every race weekend; we’ve just had some unlucky breaks in the races. The car’s real good. I’m proud of the Brumos guys, and I¹m looking forward to a good race. The last time we started up on the second row, we ended up on the podium. Hopefully, it will lead to the same thing.”

Starting alongside Law will be No. 10 SunTrust Racing Pontiac Riley driver Jonathan Cochet, who shares the car with Max Angelelli. Championship points leader and 2004 event co-winner Scott Pruett and starting co-driver Memo Rojas will start fifth in the No. 01 TELMEX Chip Ganassi with Felix Sabates Lexus Riley.

The Daytona Prototypes will have a final half-hour practice session at 10:05 a.m. Saturday before the two-and-a-half hour EMCO Gears Classic presented by KeyBank, which is scheduled to begin at 5:45 p.m. Saturday.

The weekend also features a two-and-a-half hour GT class race, which is scheduled for 11 a.m. Sunday. Qualifying for the GT series is at 11:45 a.m. Saturday, with final practice scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Sunday.

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