Action Express Racing Prepared For Rolex 24 Title Defense
Team Pleased With Progress Following Roar Before the Rolex 24 Test
Daytona Beach, FL: Action Express Racing returned to the scene of its historic upset win this weekend for the annual Roar Before the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway. The three-day test serves as a prelude to the prestigious 24-hour endurance race that will take place on January 29-30, 2011 and is the final official test of the offseason.
The test was the first for several of the team's part-time drivers who will fill out the driver lineup for Daytona. Full-time drivers Joao Barbosa and Terry Borcheller in the No. 9 Porsche/Riley and David Donohue and Darren Law in the No. 5 were joined by an all-star cast of drivers that included: Max Papis, Christian Fittipaldi, Buddy Rice, Burt Frisselle and JC France.
Throughout the test's eight sessions the team made gains on both cars, culminating with the fourth fastest time in the weekend's final session.
"We came here with a test plan and we were able to get all of it done. Right at the end we took all of the good elements from the plan and put it on the one car (the No. 5) and the car responded to it," said team manager Gary Nelson following the test. "We're excited and really expecting to come down here and work to defend our title from the past two seasons."
Action Express Racing is the successor of Brumos Racing's former DP program. Brumos Racing won the Rolex 24 in 2009 and after downsizing to one car in 2010, Action Express took over one of the two teams and claimed the race title in its first ever start.
Because of the late acquisition last year, Action Express is even further along at this point of the season than they were one year ago when they won the prestigious endurance race.
"The test was very successful for us", said Bob Johnson, Team Principal. "Our drivers are very happy with the handling of the cars and the new track surface is a big improvement."
"We're leaving here with a very good race plan. All we really have to work on now are pit stops and getting some spares ready," added Nelson. "We're good to go right now. I wish they would start the race now."
Each of the team's part-time drivers were pleased with their first weekend on track and raved about the handling and consistency on both of the team's two cars.
"This whole weekend has been very straight forward on both ends. You can definitely tell they've done this before," said Christian Fittipaldi. "I was very happy with what I saw. There are always things you can improve on, but I'm very confident that when we come back here for the race we're going to be very competitive."
NASCAR driver Max Papis flew in for the test Sunday morning and was only able to get in the car for the day's two practice sessions, but was still pleased with the team's performance.
"I have a lot of friends here at Action Express and they're people I've raced against for many years. I feel like I fit like a glove," said Papis, who finished second to Action Express in the Rolex 24 one year ago. "This is all you can ask for as a racecar driver, to have a chance to be successful and to be around a bunch of great people. We have both."
Buddy Rice knows what it takes to win the 24-hour race, winning in 2009 alongside Donohue and Law for Brumos Racing. He competed full-time in 2010 for Spirit of Daytona Racing -- earning a podium finish at Watkins Glen -- and his experience is expected to be key when the team returns to Daytona in just over two weeks.
"The test went really well. We were able to shuffle a lot of drivers in and out and we'll be very competitive come race time," he said. "I think we have two teams that can contend to win and both lineups are stout. It all just depends on how the race shakes out."
Action Express Racing will look to defend its title on January 29-30 at Daytona International Speedway. The Rolex 24 At Daytona kicks off the 2011 GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series season.