DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Facing a season of uncertainty, Alex Gurney and his teammates found some success at a place where they have had little to celebrate the last five years.
So it would be fitting if the Rolex 24 at Daytona could turn 2014 around for GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing.
Gurney was the surprise pole winner Thursday for the prestigious twice-around-the-clock endurance event at Daytona International Speedway that kicks off the racing season. He put the No. 99 Corvette in the top starting spot for the race that begins Saturday with a lap 130.416 mph to easily beat Richard Westbrook, in another Corvette for the Spirit of Daytona team.
It was a strong showing for a team that is running on a thin budget, had limited offseason testing and so far plans to run only five of the 13 events in the inaugural TUDOR United SportsCar Championship season.
"Maybe there's a little more pressure on the team, you know, because we know we only have these few chances," Gurney said. "They're trying really hard. It was a very hard offseason, where everyone worked all the way through. We get bragging rights for a couple of days, I guess. It means a lot to us as a team. We're only doing the North American endurance rounds, maybe Austin as well, so we want to be able to put our best foot forward and luckily everything came together. It feels really good to be up top."
Gurney, whose father, Dan, won the first sports car series race at Daytona in 1962, now hopes to join his father as a former winner of the biggest sports car race in the United States.
"It would be the biggest thing in my career," Gurney said. "The last time we had an all-America team was my dad's team in 1993, all American drivers. For me personally, it's the biggest race we do. It's the one we want to win."
Dan Gurney won the 24 Hours in 1993 with P.J. Jones, Mark Dismore and Rocky Moran with an all-American team. Alex Gurney will try to do it with Jon Fogarty, Memo Gidley and Darren Law.