Chevy Racing–Gurney Takes Historic Pole for Rolex 24

CCORVETTE DPs AT DAYTONA: Gurney Takes Historic Pole for Rolex 24
GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing leads Corvette DP front-row sweep in Daytona qualifying
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 23, 2014) – Alex Gurney’s name will go down in history as the first Corvette Daytona Prototype driver to claim an overall pole position for the Rolex 24 At Daytona. The Californian put the No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Corvette DP on pole Thursday for the 52nd running of the twice-around-the-clock endurance classic and the opening round of the new TUDOR United SportsCar Championship.
Gurney’s best lap was a 1:38.270 (130.416 mph) in the Corvette DP he shares with Jon Fogarty, Memo Gidley and Darren Law. Richard Westbrook made it a sweep of the front row for Corvette DPs with the second-fastest qualifying time – 1:38.487 (130.129 mph) in Spirit of Daytona Racing’s No. 90 entry.
“We were pretty diligent all through the testing we did and concentrated on full-tank runs,” Gurney said. “We never really went low-fuel to show what we had. When we pulled the fuel out, the time came. We were pretty happy with the car and it’s nice to get this pole.”
Corvette DPs posted four of the five fastest qualifying laps. Action Express Racing’s two entries were fourth and fifth with Christian Fittipaldi leading the team’s efforts in the No. 5 Corvette DP at 1:38.658 (129.903 mph). Burt Frisselle was next in the No. 9 car at 1:38.838 (129.667 mph).
“Congratulations to Alex Gurney and GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing on their historic qualifying result today at Daytona,” said Mark Kent, Chevrolet’s Director of Racing. “It’s fantastic to have two Corvette Daytona Prototypes on the front row for the opening race of the TUDOR United SportsCar Series. Thursday’s qualifying results – with four Corvette DPs in the top-five – is a testament to the collective effort by Chevrolet Racing, Earnhardt Childress Racing, GM Powertrain and our Chevrolet teams. This will be a very demanding race but our teams are as prepared as they can be for this grueling 24-hour event.”
The contingent of six Corvette DPs was in the top-12 of the qualifying order. It’s an impressive start in a new championship after Chevrolet claimed the last two engine manufacturer championships in the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series. Chevrolet power is looking for its first victory in the Rolex 24 since 2003.
“This was an excellent start to the weekend for our Corvette DP teams,” said Jim Lutz, Chevrolet Racing Program Manager for Daytona Prototypes. “It is encouraging to see the speed and consistency from the test days earlier this month through today. There are many more challenge and laps to go before the end of the race Sunday, and as a result no one in the Chevrolet camp will rest on these accomplishments.”
The TUDOR Championship is a merger of the Rolex Series and the American Le Mans Series.  The main prototype category is the featured class with a mix of GRAND-AM Daytona Prototypes racing for the first time against several other prototype machines that made up the ALMS grid a year ago.
Saturday’s race begins at 2:10 p.m. ET with live television coverage available throughout on FOX, FOX Sports 1 and FOX Sports 2.
In the GS class of the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge, the new Chevrolet Camaro Z/28.R made an impressive run in its first qualifying session. The No. 01 CKS Autosport entry of Eric Curran and Lawson Aschenbach qualified fourth with a time of 1:56.625 (109.891 mph) and was only 0.801 seconds off Jade Buford’s pole-winning time.
Stevenson Motorsports’ No. 9 Camaro Z/28.R of Matt Bell and Andy Lally posted the fifth-fastest time of the session at 1:56.750 (109.773 mph). A lengthy red-flag period meant both the Camaros posted just two laps.
The opening Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge race is set for 1:45 p.m. ET on Friday. FOX Sports 2 will air the race beginning at 6 p.m. ET.
EDITORS: High-resolution images of Corvette Racing are available on the Team Chevy media site for editorial use only.
“I’m really happy and excited about this all. I have to say a big thank you to Bob Stallings and everyone on the team. Most of the team worked right through Christmas and New Year’s with no real time off due to all the changes and challenges. This means a lot to our team. It feels really good to pull it off.”
Future plans: “Bob and everyone are trying to find more way to keep going. You never know. Starting well and finishing well is the best place to be. I think we’re in a good position as far as doing some more races.”
Dealing with grid size and classes: “We’ve had quite a few sessions to run together and I think everyone has a feel for where they are going to be. I don’t expect things to be massively different. Obviously there are some bigger closing speeds. On the banking, I’d like to see cars stay low more often; sometimes when a guy stays in the middle, you don’t know which way he is going to go. For the prototype cars that have more top speed, that can be a little more tricky. There are a lot of really good drivers in this field and it should be OK.”
“I’m delighted. We have a quick car. It’s the first time for me in a DP going into this 24-hour race knowing that we have a car that can fight for the overall win. But we have to do all the other stuff right, now – the pit stops, reliability, staying out of crashes. Pole would have been nice but the front row… I’m delighted.”
“It’s been a bit of a learning experience this whole weekend. We’ve had a lot to sort out in a little bit of time. But the Chevrolet Camaro Z/28.R is a fantastic race car and I think we have a lot of potential in it. We just have to keep working. It’s a new car for all of us here, and these things don’t happen quick. You have to take your time to sort through all the issues and then start working on setup and so forth. We’re very happy with it so far. Give us a little bit of time and we will be fighting for wins.”
“One thing you learn really quickly about this series is that when you see 15 minutes for a session, you usually only get about five minutes. When you’re working with a program for a production car that doesn’t yet exist, we are doing the stuff that is usually held behind the curtain. It’s fortunate in a way that we’re doing it out in the open. Proof that this car can qualify in the top-10 in its first time out with very few laps under it while we are still teething is awesome. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a GS car that has come in and really done this. It still has a huge ways to go. But the development that has gone into the chassis and braking system is going to a huge advantage down the road. You can tell as soon as you get in the car that there is a refinement you don’t get in GS racing or even GT racing.”