Action Express Racing extends their championship lead to a 16-point advantage.
Elkhart Lake, Wis. (10 August 2014) – Action Express Racing persevered through a thrilling race at Road America on Sunday to score the team’s second consecutive victory and third win of the season. In a race that saw six caution periods, and a couple of setbacks for the team, the Action Express Racing squad and its drivers Joao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi rallied back to not only score the victory but also extend its lead in the IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship.
The Continental Tire Road Race Showcase race win didn’t come easily for Action Express Racing who battled back from as far down as seventh to stand atop the podium.
"This was a really great win resulting from a great effort by the entire team,” said Team Owner Bob Johnson. “Our prior wins in Daytona and Indy were almost perfect runs - also the result of great preparation and planning but this one included some issues and setbacks. This win shows the championship talent on the team as everyone pulled together, did their job based on preparation and came out in front of all of the tough competitors. I could not be more proud of these guys."
We have to turn the page and move on to the next race, and just continue to do what we have been doing.
Fittipaldi opened the race from the front row and immediately pounced at the start to take over the race lead in Turn 1. The race went under caution for the first of several times due to a Lap 1 incident which saw the No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP circle behind the pace car for almost 20 minutes.
When the field went back to green, Fittipaldi held on to the race lead over a green flag run as he defended against the championship rival No. 10 car. A battle ensued and contact to the rear of Fittipaldi’s Corvette DP from the No. 10 sent Fittipaldi spinning off course. The veteran racer was able to keep the car going and return to the track, but fell to fourth in the order.
Shortly before Action Express Racing called Fittipaldi to pit lane for the team’s first pit stop, Fittipaldi radioed that there may be a problem with the brakes. When the No. 5 Corvette DP took to pit road, the team performed routine service of fuel, tires, and a driver change as well as diagnosed the brake issue and made a quick fix. Though the team performed a speedy repair, the longer pit stop saw the No. 5 emerge from the pits seventh with Barbosa at the wheel.
“We had a brake line that was seeping so when that happened it really just doesn’t give the driver confidence because the brake doesn’t feel as solid but it was just a very small leak,” said Team Manager Gary Nelson. “So on the first pit stop we took the left rear wheel off and tightened up the line. The problem with that was that it put us out of the pit sequence but, with a pedal that gave the driver confidence which was more important than track position at that point.”
Barbosa ran mid-pack for another mix of green flag running and caution periods before maneuvering his way up to fourth when the team called him in for his final pit stop with 1 hour yet to go in the race. He was one of only a few prototype machines to pit under the yellow which saw him return to the track seventh in the order.
When the race went back to green with less than an hour to go, Barbosa charged his way through the field while also saving fuel to run fourth when the fourth caution of the race was displayed. The prototypes that hadn’t yet made their final pit stops took to pit lane and Barbosa found himself back in the race lead. The cars ended up circulating under the yellow for an extended period of time when the championship contending No. 10 car hit the wall under the yellow.
Barbosa led the field back to the green with 20 minutes to go only for the race to go back under caution. A final green flag run set up a 10-minute dash to the checkered flag with Barbosa sailing to the victory with a two-second advantage.
“We’re really excited about winning two races in a row,” said Nelson. “We really think our plan is a good, solid one. To just keep doing what we’re doing. When we get a curve ball, we try to hit it! That message goes through the whole team - ‘okay there’s a setback, so how are we going to recover from this?’ - so when the yellow came out and we were running back a ways in the pack, we thought ‘how are we doing to have a better pit stop? How are we going to come out of the pits ahead of these guys?’ We were just going to do our normal plan and see what happened. And we came down pit road and all the leaders stayed out! But we had enough fuel from there to go to the end and everything else worked out.”
The TUDOR Championship leaders next travel to Circuit of the Americas in Texas for the penultimate round of the 2014 championship on September 19-20.
Driver comments on Road America victory and 2014 championship:
Joao Barbosa: “The Corvette was awesome. Action Express did a tremendous job in pit lane. We had a small issue and they fixed it. The car was super fast. What a great car they gave us. Great pit stops. The ECR Engine was awesome and I was pushing the Continental Tires all the way. They were awesome. I did my fastest lap at the end of the race. Unbelievable! What a great race. Christian (Fittipaldi) did a great stint. What a great points day!”
Christian Fittipaldi: “Back-to-back wins is awesome! I want to thank the team, Chevy, ECR Engines and obviously what an effort by this whole group. We were suffering some brake problems early in the race, but we managed to fix it on the first stop. If the team hadn’t fixed the problem in the pits, we wouldn’t have had a chance to win today. Joao (Barbosa) drove two very strong stints, which put us back in the hunt again. We also had a small encounter with the No. 10 car, but it went the way it went. I don't know what to say. We can't be happier than this. We have to turn the page and move on to the next race, and just continue to do what we have been doing."
Action Express Racing