Fogarty and Vassar Look For A Strong Run
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© Andrew S. Hartwell

The No. 99 GAINSCO / Bob Stallings Pontiac-Riley came close to victory in last years Rolex 24. A mechanical issue pushed them out of the win and this team is determined to prevent a repeat appearance of the unwelcome Daytona fate fairy.

Season long co-drivers Jon Fogarty and Alex Gurney are once again joined by ChampCar veteran Jimmy Vasser for this race. In fact, the whole team has returned and this time they intend to take a steady - though not necessarily fast - path to the podium.

When we spoke with Fogarty and Vasser, they pretty much summed up the team's position and game plan the same way. While not exactly fully embracing the turtle's strategy in this race against rabbits, they do have a plan to sustain a steady pace.

Fogarty: We had a pretty good formula for this race last year. If it weren't for a gearbox problem I think we would have had a pretty good shot at the win. We have brought back the team and the driver line up in its entirety and we are approaching the race the same way. The car has been meticulously prepared and I feel the whole team is prepared.

Right now we are just checking and double checking everything. We really have nothing new going on that I can tell you about. Obviously the competition has come up as a whole, but we still feel we are in a good position. We are taking the right approach to the 24 which is to spend as much time out there circulating as possible.

Fogarty, like all professional drivers, keeps himself in good physical condition during the off season. This year, he comes into the Rolex 24 after several months of an all new approach to fitness.

I varied my workout routine the last few months, but not by choice. I injured my ankle in the fall and that shifted my fitness routine from a cardio base to more of a weight lifting base. I actually think that is an advantage, particularly at this track, because you really have a lot of time to rest here with the long straightaways. It isn't a demanding track from a cardio standpoint. You just want to have the muscle to be able to last for 24 hours. I feel strong and that is a good thing.

Vasser and Fogarty echoed similar sentiments about their Pontiac-Riley's lack of power compared to the other powerplants being run by the competition. They aren't making a big deal out of it. They have simply changed their approach to running this endurance race as they anticipate it will give them their best shot at the podium.

We are not going to be muscling past many people in this race. We don't have the straight line speed of the BMW, the Porsche and the Fords. In a sense that gives us a sense of relief when we are out on the race track because there is no way we are going to keep them behind us. We aren't going to have to fight them tooth and nail for a position because their ability to go by us is a foregone conclusion. We are just going to run our own race and try to outlast them and be consistent.

Vasser feels the same way as his teammate.

As Jon said, everything is the same with our team. We have the same drivers and crew. And there isn't one non-American on the team, from top to bottom. We are the all-American team.

We finished second last year and this year we need to stay mistake free. We have to avoid getting caught up in too much pace early on and bring it home.

We are pretty much in the same position we were last year, which is a lack of power. The rules seem to hinder the Pontiac so we are down on power. Qualifying Tenth here really doesn't matter that much but if this was a sprint race we would be out of it. But in this race you can run all day and night and whoever has the least amount of problems is going to win.

And win or lose, the GAINSCO / Bob Stallings team will stand together, even when it comes to cleaning up after a big race. Fogarty assured us he is willing to do his share.

We are a team at GAINSCO so cleaning up after<