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Jun 01, 2014 - 08:20 AM
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Strong Showing in Detroit Comes Up Short for Action Express Racing
Posted by: newsla on Jun 01, 2014 - 08:20 AM
USCR News
Strong Showing in Detroit Comes Up Short for Action Express Racing


With a great record of success racing in the shadow of Chevrolet’s world headquarters, Action Express Racing headed to Detroit hoping for another huge result in the Chevrolet Sports Car Classic on Saturday. Drivers Christian Fittipaldi and Joao Barbosa looked well on their way to capitalizing on the strong pace of the No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP, only to have their shot at victory halted on the very last lap of the race.

 

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When veteran sports car racer Barbosa went to overtake the No. 10 car on the final lap, contact between the two saw the No. 5 machine sustain a cut tire which unfortunately took Barbosa out of contention for the win.

A valiant battle on the streets of Belle Isle ended with a result that did not reflect what the Action Express Racing team – which had a car to win – was capable of in Detroit.

“We definitely felt like our car was set up for the long runs and it was showing after an extra long caution,” offered Team Manager Gary Nelson. “The long caution kind of limited our number of laps to get our strength going and the 10 car was able to jump out about four seconds ahead of us. With about 15 minutes to go, we were within a second of the leader. We really felt like it was just a matter of time before we took over the lead. Joao made a move and we thought that was going to be the winning move, but he got pushed out by the 10 so he came back on the last lap and made another winning move and unfortunately we got a flat tire out of it. But nine times out of 10 you don’t get the flat tire, you win the race. That’s what we do at Action Express. We’re here to do all we can to get to the front and that showed today.”

Fittipaldi opened the race from third on the grid after a frantic qualifying run through the streets which saw the top-three cars swap positions each lap. The Brazilian ace immediately pounced on the race start and took over the second position in the first turn. He remained hot on the tail of the leader through the opening stint and maintained a gap of less than a second as the lead pack of cars worked through GT traffic.

When the first of two full course caution periods flew with 1 hour and 7 minutes remaining in the race, Fittipaldi ran second in line. Action Express Racing Engineer Iain Watt took advantage of the yellow flag period and called the No. 5 Corvette DP to pit lane for fuel, tires, and a driver change. Fittipaldi handed the controls over to Barbosa who returned to the track second in the order after a quick stop by the Action Express crew members.

“The car was good – we definitely had the best car out there,” said Fittipaldi. “Everything was great. I was a little bit unlucky in traffic but everything was going to plan. My situation on the team is sometimes difficult because I have to be aggressive but I can’t be too aggressive because I have to hand the car over to Joao in perfection condition, but all in all we had an awesome car today.”

Barbosa restarted second but only had a few laps of green flag running before a long full course caution period which saw the combined Prototype and GTD cars circulate under yellow for 30 minutes. When the field finally went back to green there was just 27 minutes to go.

The No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP was set up for a longer green flag run so as Barbosa worked to bring the car up to speed, the lead car developed over a four-second advantage. But as the Action Express machine came up to full performance, Barbosa immediately began setting fast lap times each time by – decreasing the gap to the leader with each lap.

With less than 10 minutes to go, Barbosa was within a second of the leader and made two attempts to pass for the lead, only to be pushed out toward the wall. In a thrilling battle on the final lap, Barbosa made a move inside of the No. 10 machine and the two made side to side contact with the No. 10 car cutting the tire of the No. 5 Corvette DP. Barbosa was forced to limp the car back to the finish and took sixth at the checkered flag.

“Action Express Racing and the car was just awesome on the long run here,” said Barbosa. “It wasn’t so strong initially but it was really strong after a few laps. We were very, very fast. I really expected Ricky (Taylor, No. 10 Corvette) to race me clean because he must have seen how much faster I was when I caught him, but unfortunately that didn't happen. I got a flat tire and we finished sixth. It’s really disappointing because we had a car to win today.”

The Action Express Racing team will now focus ahead to the Sahlen’s 6 Hours of the Glen next month as the group targets a three-peat in the event after having claimed victory in the previous two 6 Hour races at Watkins Glen International.

Action Express Racing TUDOR Championship Race Victories:
2010 Rolex 24 At Daytona
2011 Virginia International Raceway
2012 Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix
2012 Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen
2013 Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course
2013 Sahlen's Six Hours of the Glen
2014 Rolex 24 At Daytona

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