Gainsco ‘Red Dragon’ Scores Another Rolex Pole at Barber Motorsports Park
LEEDS, Ala.—Jon Fogarty and Alex Gurney, co-drivers of the #99 Gainsco Riley Corvette Daytona Prototype, will lead the field for the second consecutive race at Saturday’s Grand Am Rolex Porsche 250 from Barber Motorsports Park, after Jon Fogarty earned his 25th career pole with a record-setting lap in the final minute of Friday morning’s qualifying session.
“We’ve done our homework and come to a setup that works around here,” said Fogarty, who with Gurney broke a year-long winless streak at the last Rolex race, the Grand Am of the Americas in March. “Stoking the fire at Circuit of The Americas was great for the team, and we want to try to move forward from there. We’d love to have another win here, for sure,” said Fogarty.
Fogarty’s lap of 1:18:949 at 104.878 mph was .675 quicker than the lap record set by Ricky Taylor in 2010. Taylor, now driving the #90 Spirit of Daytona Racing Coyote-Corvette, qualified second with a lap of 1:19.141 at 104.623 mph, also breaking his old record. Third went to his brother Jordan in the #10 Velocity Worldwide Dallara-Corvette at 1:19.195 and 104.552 mph.
The three traded fastest lap several times during the 15-minute qualifying session, with the Gainsco driver nabbing the pole at the last moment. It is the team’s fourth pole at Barber since Gurney won his first in 2005.
Memo Rojas in the #021 Telmex-Ganassi Riley BMW was the quickest-non-Corvette DP, lapping Barber’s 17-turn, 2.38-mile road course in 1:19.656.
Only one other car, the #9 Action Express Coyote-Corvette, was able to break 1:20. The rest of the 13-car DP field is at least a second off the pace. However, the two practice sessions and qualifying were held under compromised conditions: a damp track for both practices, and unusually cool weather for qualifying. The weekend forecast calls for a warm sunny day, so the race pace could be much quicker.
“The track is quite a bit different than last year—it might be two seconds faster than last year,” said Ricky Taylor’s co-driver Richard Westbrook. The Barber track was partially resurfaced in the off-season, giving more grip in a few key spots; that plus development by the teams has brought laps times down compared to past years.
Edwards Sets Record While Taking GT Pole
John Edwards in the #57 Stevenson Motorsports Camaro also set a new record with his GT pole-winning lap of 1:26.61 at 95.6 mph, surpassing the old mark of 1:26.812 set by Jonathan Bomarito in a SpeedSource Mazda in 2010.
Only sixth hundredths off the pole-setting pace was Boris Said in the #31 Marsh Racing Corvette at 1:26.667 and 95.527 mph. Patrick Lindsey in the #73 Park Place Motorsports Porsche turned in the third-best GT time at 1:27.568 and 94.55 mph.
Tom Long in the #70 SpeedSource Mazda captured the GX pole, the first for Mazda in the GX class, with a lap of 1:32.036 at 89.965 mph, followed by teammate Tristan Nunex in the #00 car at 1:32.912 at 89.117 mph. Dr. Jim Norman took third in class in the #38 BGB Porsche Cayman at 1:36.411 (85.882 mph.)
Perfect Weather for a Four-Race Weekend
Though the weather had been rainy and chilly through Friday morning, by Friday afternoon the sun had come out and dried the track. Race day should be a perfect sunny mid-70s, and the track should be fully rubbered in after practice and qualifying sessions from the Rolex Series, Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge, and the IndyCars. The cars should be quicker and the racing, super-competitive.
Saturday starts with the CTSCC race at 12:45 p.m. followed by the Rolex Porsche 250 at 4 p.m. (all time Central.) The morning is given over to qualifying for IndyCar and Indy Lights. The Legacy Indy Lights 100 takes the green flag at noon, and the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama starts at 2:40 p.m. Sunday.
With four different series sharing the track, fans will barley have time to appreciate Barber Motorsports Park’s natural beauty and quixotic sculptures. Be sure to take time to visit the Motorsports Museum on the track grounds, though—it contains several floors of vintage racing cars and motorcycles. It is definitely time well spent.
Tickets for the busy race weekend are available at the gate or online via Barber Motorsports.