Daytona 24 Hours: Alex Gurney takes surprise pole and hopes to emulate his father Dan's success 52 years on - Motor Racing - Sport - The Independent

Daytona 24 Hours: Alex Gurney takes surprise pole and hopes to emulate his father Dan's success 52 years on

Gurney beat Britain's Richard Westbrook to take the early bragging rights for GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing

Alex Gurney was the surprise pole winner Thursday for the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway that kicks off the United SportsCar Championship.

He put the No. 99 Corvette of GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing in the top starting spot for the race that begins Saturday, easily bettering the time set by 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 season. 

"Maybe there's a little more pressure on the team 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. 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." 

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. 

The odds are stacked against the GAINSCO team: Since 1994 only three pole winners have won the race. 

And the team has had its struggles at Daytona. Although the team won the pole in 2007 and finished second in 2008, it has finished no better than seventh since and had DNF's in 2010 and was 89 laps off the pace in 2012. 

"We've been thinking about it for a long time. Every year, we think we have it figured out," Alex Gurney said. "It's just hard to test for things that are going to break at hour 18 or hour 16, so we've tried to address those things over the year, but each time something new crops up." 

The Riley DP of Starworks Motorsports qualified third. 

The Chip Ganassi Racing entries had a tough qualifying session: Scott Dixon qualified sixth in the No. 02 Riley DP, while Scott Pruett was ninth in the defending race winner No. 01. The Ganassi team switched for Ford engines during the offseason and struggled in testing with reliability and in Thursday practice with front splitter issues. 

There are 67 cars in the field spread over four classes in the first year of the merger between Grand-AM and the American Le Mans Series. It marks the first time sports cars in North America have been unified since 1997. 

CORE autosport was the highest qualifying car in the Prototype Challenge class at 14th overall. 

SRT Motorsports, which has former IndyCar champion Ryan Hunter-Reay in its lineup, was the highest qualifying car from the GT Le Mans class at 25th overall. 

Paul Miller Racing was the highest car in the crowded GT Daytona class at 34th overall. That class includes Dempsey Racing, owned by actor and co-driver Patrick Dempsey, which was 46th overall and 13th in its class.

 

AP

News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'I felt like that was the lowest I’d ever felt'
News
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig is believed to be donning skies as 007 for the first time
Voices
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape
music
Life and Style
techCriminals are targeting an e-reader security flaw
Life and Style
tech
Life and Style
tech... and together they're worth at least £100 million
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
Life and Style
fashion
Travel
news This video may make you think twice about ever taking the Tube again
Life and Style
A spider is seen in its web on September 16, 2014 in Hohen Meissner, Germany.
tech The 'Spider in Da House' app has been developed by scientists to tackle arachnophobia
Life and Style
fashionIncredibly, it hasn't been branded 'Will.eye.am'
News
A plane flies close to the eruption of the Icelandic volcano
newsAnd yes, it's quite something
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch
artAnd it's even for a good cause
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week