Kansas City, Kan. - Action Express Racing finished the SFP Grand Prix at Kansas Speedway fourth and fifth on Saturday night as the two team entries completed the 10th round of the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series championship with a double top-five team result.
The fourth place effort was a welcome result for the Action Express squad after the No. 5 Corvette received hard contact from the No. 01 of Memo Rojas early in the race which spun Fittipaldi out of the lead position and caused significant handling problems to the No. 5 Action Express Racing Daytona Prototype.
Fittipaldi opened the 2.75-hour SFP Grand Prix from third on the grid and wasted no time in moving forward as he took over the point on the opening lap. He would lead the first 10 laps until the contact with the No. 01 saw the No. 5 Corvette DP drop to sixth in the order.
A Lap 28 pit stop under the first of three full course caution periods saw Fittipaldi pit from the fifth position and turn the car over to Barbosa who re-entered the race third in line after a great stop by the Action Express crew. Burt Frisselle, who opened the race from the fourth position and ran among the top-five throughout his entire opening stint, also came to pit road during the caution and Brian Frisselle took control of the No. 9 Action Express Racing Corvette DP.
Despite having to deal with the ill-handling No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP, both team cars ran quick and consistent laps around the 2.37-mile roval circuit to bring home two positive results as the championship heats up with just two more rounds of competition remaining.
Shrewd strategy from the engineers, great pit stops from the crew, and strong performance from all four drivers all combined to see the Action Express Racing group produce two solid results as GRAND-AM staged its first race at the Kansas Speedway. While the team had been looking to once again be a threat for victory, the weekend still produced another example of a strong team performance as the group prepares for two final races to determine the championship.
“Today we were at one of the tracks that we put on our calendar that would be tough because the speeds are so high,” offered team manager Gary Nelson. “But we are leaving here today with both cars finishing in the top-five and we feel like that is pretty good. We are really disappointed in the damage to the No. 5 we got earlier in the race. We just couldn't overcome it. The back spoiler was partially broken off and the toe setting was bent. I know the No. 01 car got a penalty for rough driving, but the damage we received ended up penalizing us for the entire race. Overall we’re happy with how the team performed today and we’ll just pack it up and go on to the next one."
The No. 5 Action Express Racing effort is third in the championship (267 points) - just 16 points out of the top spot. Action Express Racing will look to gain ground in the championship hunt as the team travels across the country to Laguna Seca in Monterey, California September 7-8 for Round 11 of the GRAND-AM Rolex Series championship.
Christian Fittipaldi, No. 5 Corvette DP: "We definitely lost some handling after that hit with Memo at the beginning. It tore off some downforce so after that point the car was very loose. I imagine Joao was experiencing the same. But all-in-all we can't complain, it could be worse. We managed to salvage a good fourth place and the No. 9 car finished fifth so we are going to turn the page and see where we are in the next one and in the championship."
Joao Barbosa, No. 5 Corvette DP: "It was a very difficult race. Unfortunately the incident with Memo Rojas at the beginning of the race compromised us for the rest of the race. We were struggling with the rear grip and were missing a part of the rear aero. But we just tried to survive. And it's amazing what the guys were able to do in the pit stops, they did a tremendous job. And now we have to focus on and think about the last two races."
Burt Frisselle, No. 9 Corvette DP: “We had two cars in the top-five both here and at Road America. For my brother and I in the No. 9 this is our third top-five in the last four races so that is really nice. We are finally building momentum and feeling like we are working well together. I really can't wait to get to Laguna Seca. It's a track both of us love and we are hoping it suits our car well so we are ready to finish these last two races off strong. But overall it was a good day for the team and we are going to do everything we can to help win the No. 5 guys win the championship."
Brian Frisselle, No. 9 Corvette DP: "It was pretty good. The balance kind of changed with each set of tires and during periods of the stint. But I'm very proud of the team, we had great pit stops. We actually made up some positions on pit lane. The No. 9 guys got some valuable points even though I know they are disappointed because they needed to beat the No. 01 guys. But they got some valuable points on some key guys. And we are happy with two top-fives. Of course we are here to win and to podium, but at the same time this is a very competitive series and you have to be happy with a top-five."
Action Express Racing