A relatively light day of final practice Friday will give way to the more than day-long grind of the 50th Anniversary Rolex 24 At Daytona tomorrow for GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing and team drivers Alex Gurney, Jon Fogarty and Memo Gidley. The green flag for the historic Golden Anniversary running of America’s premier 24-hour race drops this Saturday, January 28, at 3:30 p.m. ET with live television coverage on SPEED beginning at 2:30 p.m. ET/11:30 a.m. PT.
A light but persistent band of rain showers kept more GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series teams in the garage than on the track Friday at Daytona International Speedway (DIS), and the new No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Corvette Daytona Prototype was among them.
“We feel really good,” Gurney said. “We were definitely hoping to get a last little run there today but the weather decided against it. We’ll take the gamble. I don’t know what we’re going to do on setup but we feel pretty good about it. We were only going to make a small change. The car has been reliable. We feel pretty good, we think we’re prepared across the board. The team has done a great job. We really focused on reliability, and I think that’s going to be key for the race.”
Gurney, who qualified the No. 99 fourth quickest with a lap time of 1:41.519 (126.242 mph) on Thursday, will start tomorrow’s race. The schedule calls for Gidley to drive second and Fogarty to fill the final spot in the rotation. All three drivers spent some time at the track today visiting with agent partners and employees from GAINSCO Auto Insurance and, along with team owner Bob Stallings, will join the same group again tonight for a pre-race dinner.
“It’s nice,” Gidley said. “It’s always nice when you have people behind you that are rooting you on or cheering you on, especially having an actively involved sponsor where people come out, see the car and the name. That’s neat, it’s for sure better to have fans than not to have fans. When they are your own personal GAINSCO fans, that makes it that much better.”
Fogarty has been part of the GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing family since 2006.
“I am so incredibly fortunate and blessed to be a part of the GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing team,” Fogarty said. “It is a dream to have a sponsor that is so committed and enthusiastic about a racing program. The way GAINSCO utilizes the race team to represent and build the brand of GAINSCO Auto Insurance makes me feel like a part of a much bigger team than of the one that shows up at the track. It is awesome and I never forget how great it is. I am part of an incredible race team and I am part of an incredible auto insurance company, GAINSCO.”
GAINSCO’s best Rolex 24 result to date came in 2008 when Gurney and Fogarty were joined by Jimmie Johnson and Jimmy Vasser for a second-place finish. Gidley is the only co-driver with the season-long Gurney and Fogarty duo in this year’s Rolex 24.
With practice and qualifying in the books, the next on-track activity scheduled is the actual Rolex 24 At Daytona race start on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET.
Gidley has a routine he usually follows the night before the Rolex 24. “I like to think about things, think about the car, think about some scenarios and not get too wrapped up in it, but just go through the motions a little bit,” Gidley said. “Just sort of reinforce how you expect to handle things on the race track. When you are out there, the adrenaline unfortunately pumps you up and sometimes gets you in different situations. You need to focus on what you are really doing. You’ve got to think about those things and just enjoy the experience.”