Nasr “couldn’t ask for better” after winning title on IMSA debut
Ex-Formula 1 driver Felipe Nasr says that clinching the IMSA Prototype championship in his inaugural season in the WeatherTech SportsCar series was “unbelievable” given the difficulties the team encountered at Petit Le Mans.
Nasr was blazingly fast and fulltime co-driver Eric Curran turned in the best race of his career, the pair ably supported by Gabby Chaves.
As late as Lap 368 of what transpired as 443-lap race, the car was running in the top three and looking a likely victory contender, when the engine of the #31 Action Express Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R started to lose power, forcing the team to switch to a fuel-saving strategy.
AXR’s prime title contenders, CORE autosport, made its final stop early and gambled on a final yellow emerging to help get its Oreca to the checkered flag without a late splash-and-dash.
The team’s plans were foiled, however, and Colin Braun had to pit the #54 machine, finishing just one place ahead of Nasr and Curran – not enough to overtake them in the points standings.
Said Nasr: “I have no words at all. It was an exhausting last stint, to be honest, three-plus hours in the car.
“Somehow, we lost power halfway through the stint so the only chance we had was to hit the fuel target. I still can't believe it, it was impossible but somehow, we made it!
“I want to thank Eric, Gabby, and Mike [Conway, the #31’s regular enduro driver]. Even though he's not here this weekend, he's been a great part of the team.
“And thank you to the Action Express guys who made all the calls, all our sponsors - the Whelen car has won two championships! This is my first year in the series and I couldn't ask for a better way for the season to go. It's been a great year, I just need time for it all to sink in.”
Curran, who also won the drivers’ title with Dane Cameron (now at Acura Team Penske) in 2016, but who is now quitting fulltime racing, declared: “This is unbelievable. Talk about down to the wire, it just doesn't get closer than that in racing.
“We didn't think we could make it on fuel, we kept backing Felipe up to hit the fuel number, running four or five seconds off the pace at the end. The #54 CORE car had to stop and that made the difference.
“The Whelen Cadillac was great all day. We led a lot of the race. The engineers on the box, the pit stops were all spot on. What a great day! It feels great to win two of these championships in a two-year window. I am unbelievably happy!"
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