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Action Express Racing Delivers Podium Performance In Sahlen's 6 Hours Of The Glen
Posted by: newsla on Jun 30, 2014 - 07:36 AM
USCR News
Action Express Racing Delivers Podium Performance In Sahlen's 6 Hours Of The Glen


Action Express Racing once again delivered a strong performance in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen, with both team Coyote-based Corvette DP machines racing to the finish with impressive race day pace on Sunday.

 

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Though it wasn’t quite the results the team had been hoping for with a ‘three-peat’ win at the Glen, the results still saw Action Express Racing take a ‘three-peat’ Watkins Glen podium performance. The team effort sees Action Express Racing continuing to lead the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup, as well as closing the gap in the overall championship. The team now trails the No. 10 Corvette by just three points in the overall TUDOR Championship.

A prudent call from the pit box saw the Action Express Racing sister Corvette machines implement a strategy that saw the cars run 1-2 at the half-way mark of the race which secured major points toward the North American Endurance Cup championship and achieve the squad’s first goal of the race.

The event opened strongly for both teams with Christian Fittipaldi immediately leaping to the lead from his second place starting position when the green flag flew. He developed a commanding lead over the rest of the field by extending the gap to over a six-second advantage. Meanwhile Burt Frisselle, who started eighth, made up two positions in the opening laps to run sixth.

Fittipaldi pitted from the lead and the team delivered a quick pit stop, but shortly thereafter the No. 5 Corvette was called to pit lane for a drive through penalty due to a paperwork error made on Saturday, the day before the race, when the team inadvertently wrote Joao Barbosa's name on the starting driver line of an IMSA driver nomination form. Frisselle pitted the No. 9 Corvette DP from second in the running not long after and once pit stops had cycled through, the No. 5 and No. 9 Action Express Corvette DP machines ran sixth and fourth, respectively.

With just about an hour and a half completed, both cars took to pit road for routine stops of fuel, tires and driver changes. Brian Frisselle took over driving duties in the No. 9 while Joao Barbosa strapped into the No. 5. Frisselle emerged from pit lane third with Barbosa not far behind in fifth.

The first of four caution periods was displayed with four hours and 15 minutes still remaining in the race and both teams opted to pit under yellow in an effort to allow both cars to be at the front of the pack at the three-hour mark of the race. When the race went back to green, the strategy worked out perfectly as the two Action Express Corvettes paced the field at the half-way point and collected valuable points toward the Patron Endurance Cup.

Jon Fogarty took over from Brian Frisselle, who pitted from second with just under three hours to go and Barbosa pitted three laps later and handed the car over to Fittipaldi for his second stint. The sister cars ran third and fourth in line and with two and a half hours to go Fittipaldi was out where he wanted to be—in the race lead as Fogarty closely pursued from fourth in the order.

Despite not having a working drink bottle in a race held under warm weather conditions, Fittipaldi clicked off lap times as fast as the leader and remained among the top-three throughout his second stint. Meanwhile, Fogarty pitted for four tires and fuel with two hours to go and emerged from pit lane in fourth place.

When just under five hours had elapsed, Fittipaldi made his final pit stop as he handed the car over to Barbosa to take to the finish. He relinquished the race lead and Barbosa returned to the track in third. Just a few laps later, Fogarty pitted for a routine pit stop and emerged fourth in line.

The No. 5 Action Express Corvette DP made its final stop with 46 minutes to go and Fogarty pitted with 39 minutes remaining and it was Burt Frisselle, who started the race, who took the No. 9 Corvette DP to the finish.

A full course caution was displayed with 25 minutes to go and when the field went back to green, Burt Frisselle found himself running second in line, but one lap down. The sportscar veteran knew he had to get by the leading No. 42 car and made an assertive and clean pass through Turn 1 when the race went back to green and returned to the lead lap.

The team appeared to be well on its way to a podium finish when the race went green with 10 minutes to go, but a late-race on track incident - involving the championship contending No. 01 machine - set up a thrilling one-lap dash to the checkered flag. The late race yellow allowed the No. 42 car, which was short on fuel, to make it to the end and unfortunately, a lapped car sat between Barbosa and the No. 42 machine on the final restart. Barbosa delivered a valiant effort to go after the No. 42 once getting by the lapped car, but with just one lap left, was unable to get the position and the team took third and fourth at the finish.

“We'll take it and go on down to the next race,” said Team Manager Gary Nelson. “We really had what we thought was a car that certainly was going to contend for the win. But the yellow flag early and our getting off strategy with the 42 and 90, kept us out of balance for the next three hours when there was no more yellows. And then it was looking like it was coming to us and then the yellows started coming out at the end. We lost our opportunity during those yellows to make up the ground we were making up. It would have been nice to come away here a little higher on the podium but we're happy to get back on the podium for sure.”

The team will look to regain the TUDOR Championship lead at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park in two weeks which marks Round 7 of the 2014 championship.

DRIVER COMMENTS:
Christian Fittipaldi, No. 5 Corvette DP: “It was a good day. Obviously, not exactly what we were looking for but I also can't complain. Sometimes it doesn't go your way. But we win as a team, we lose as a team. Unfortunately, it didn't go our way. We're going to turn the page and go on to Mosport. We closed the gap on the 10 car in the championship, which is good, and we opened the gap to the 01 and we were leading at the three-hour mark. So for the Patron Endurance Cup, it went really well.”

Joao Barbosa, No. 5 Corvette DP: “We had a strong car through the whole race. Unfortunately, the strategy in the race situation didn't work in our favor with the last yellow flags. But it was a great points day for the Patron Cup and we tightened the gap in the overall championship. I know we were leading at the three hour mark which was one of our goals. We just closed the gap on the 10 car in the championship and overall, that's what we were looking for when we came here. We were looking also for the win and though we didn't get that, overall it was still very positive. If that last yellow hadn’t of come, I think we would have had enough to catch the 90 car. We had a very competitive car and I was pushing, I was doing really good lap times. I felt we had a chance at the end. On the yellow before the last one, I was caught behind the No. 10 (lapped car) a little bit and he slowed me down just enough so I couldn't close the gap on the leaders. But on the last restart, I was able to go by him but there was just not enough time left in the race - one lap is not enough to get by.”

Brian Frisselle, No. 9 Corvette DP: “Overall I had a pretty good stint. It's great to be back with the team, back in a Daytona Prototype, it's so nice to drive around Watkins Glen. I can't say enough about the team. We landed 1-2 at the three-hour mark. One of the most important championships for Burt and I is the Patron Endurance Cup. So to get those very valuable points and then get those points at the end - I think all of our closest competitors were behind us at the end too - it's just awesome. It was a great points day for the No. 5. They beat the 10 and the 01 had trouble. So overall, just a great, solid result for Action Express.”

Burt Frisselle, No. 9 Corvette DP: “This is one of my favorite races of the year. Actually the four (North American Endurance Cup) races that Brian and I get to do are my favorite races in the series. For me it was just a thrill to be at Watkins Glen again with Action Express. We know that this team is the best team at endurance racing in the paddock. It showed again today to have both cars finish in the top-five. I can't wait to go to Petit LeMans and seal that Patron North American Cup for the team and for our two cars.”

Jon Fogarty, No. 9 Corvette DP: “It was great. It was nice to come back and have a six-hour race with as long as I’ve been out of the racecar. It wasn't really until halfway through my stint that I really found my groove again. But we ran a good clean race. Burt and Brian did a great job and kept it clean. We were close to a podium. Not quite there but it was certainly within our grasp. So I'm pretty pleased with the performance today.”

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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