Gurney Fastest in Opening Practice

July 16, 2010
J.J. O’Malley, GRAND-AM

Alex Gurney paces the field at Thunderbolt Raceway in the No. 99 GAINSCO Chevrolet/Riley.

MILLVILLE, N.J. – Winless so far in 2010 GRAND-AM Rolex Series competition, defending Daytona Prototype champion Alex Gurney ran a lap of 1:15.685 (107.023 mph) to lead Friday’s opening practice at New Jersey Motorsports Park’s 2.25-mile Thunderbolt Raceway in preparation for Sunday’s NJMP 250.

“The car is really good, and it was well balanced right off the bat,” said Gurney, who co-drives the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Chevrolet/Riley with Jon Fogarty. “We’re looking forward to turning things around this weekend. We haven’t had a single trouble-free race this season.”

Fogarty will attempt to capture the pole position in Saturday’s qualifying at 12:30 p.m. ET. The leading qualifier in Rolex Series history with 14 pole positions, Fogarty has been shut out in that category this season. Qualifying will be streamed live on SPEED.com, beginning at 12:25 p.m.

“We’re certainly going to shoot for the pole,” said Fogarty, who won four poles in last year’s championship season. “This is a physical track, and with temperatures being so high, it’s really going to be a cooker on Sunday. It’s going to be a tough race – an endurance race for sure.”

Antonio Garcia was second with a lap of 1:15.838 (106.807 mph) in the No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Porsche/Coyote co-driven by Buddy Rice, followed by Ozz Negri in the No. 60 Crown Royal XR Ford/Riley shared by John Pew, 1:15.971 (106.620 mph).

Nic Jonsson, who won last year’s NJMP 250, was fourth at 1:16.046 (106.514 mph) in the No. 75 Krohn Racing Proto-Auto Ford/Lola co-driven by Tracy Krohn.

DP points leader Scott Pruett was sixth fastest with a lap of 1:16.165 (106.348 mph) in the No. 01 Telmex BMW/Riley co-driven by Memo Rojas. The team has won six of eight races this season and holds a 13-point lead in the championship, but finished ninth in both prior Rolex Series races in New Jersey.

“That’s just bad luck,” Pruett said of the past two races at Thunderbolt Raceway. “We’ve been plenty fast. We had the horrific crash in testing here two years ago, and last year we were walking away from the field when our windshield wiper broke. But it’s going to be tough with the conditions Sunday – they’re talking 95 degrees for race day. That’s hot! We’ll just have to make the most of it. We’ve just got to be smart and stay focused on doing the right thing, and hopefully can get back up on the podium.”

Robin Liddell led the production-based GT class with a lap of 1:22.031 (98.743 mph) in the No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports Camaro co-driven by Andrew Davis. Sylvain Tremblay was second with a lap of 1:22.398 (98.303 mph) in the No. 70 Castrol Syntec Mazda RX-8 co-driven by Jonathan Bomarito, with Bill Auberlen third with a lap of 1:22.408 (98.291 mph) in the No. 94 Turner Motorsport BMW M6 co-driven by Joey Hand.

Friday’s activities included two sessions for a total of three hours, with both practices running incident free.

The NJMP 250 is round 9 of the 2010 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 season. The two-hour, 45-minute race takes the green flag at 1 p.m. Sunday.
source http://www.grand-am.com

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