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Jul 14, 2014 - 07:09 AM
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Action Express Racing Rallies to Fourth at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park
Posted by: newsla on Jul 14, 2014 - 07:08 AM
USCR News
Action Express Racing Rallies to Fourth at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park


Action Express Racing entered the seventh round of IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship action at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park over the weekend focused on the championship. Drivers Christian Fittipaldi and Joao Barbosa took home fourth place points for the team after a setback early in the race saw the No. 5 Action Express Racing Whelen Corvette Daytona Prototype fight back from two laps down to earn a healthy haul of points toward the championship.

 

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The squad remains second in the TUDOR Championship standings, just five points out of the top spot. The No. 5 Corvette Daytona Prototype is also the only car to have completed every race lap so far this year.

The Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix Presented by Hawk Performance opened under bright and sunny skies and on a very green track after rains enveloped the circuit through the morning hours. The team was even further motivated for a positive finish in Sunday afternoon’s event as Sonny Whelen joined the group on the Action Express pit box and the No. 5 Corvette Daytona Prototype carried Whelen branding after the fellow Corvette No. 31 Whelen Corvette DP entry was forced to withdraw due to a practice crash.

Fittipaldi began the race from the fifth starting position and immediately leapt to fourth at the drop of the green flag. He worked his way forward up into second as he gained on the race leader. The tight confines and short layout of the Canadian road course created an intense tangle of traffic and within just five laps of the race, the Prototype class was lapping the slower GT machinery.

Just 20 minutes into the race, the No. 5 Action Express Racing Whelen Corvette encountered a group of GT machines and contact caused a puncture to the left rear tire of the No. 5 DP. The puncture came early in the lap so Fittipaldi was forced to drive the car slowly around for an entire lap before taking to pit lane for a replacement tire.

When the No. 5 Action Express Racing Whelen Corvette DP hit pit lane, the team changed all four Continental Tires and added fuel. Fittipaldi emerged from the pits eighth in line and two laps down to the leaders.

“I think it was just a racing incident, I don’t think he had a clue I was there,” said Fittipaldi of the contact. “I was on the inside and because I started to pass two cars behind him, he thought that another slow car was behind him and he didn’t see me. It wasn’t his fault, he just turned and his front wheel hit my rear tire. I was half a car length ahead of him and it caused a puncture.”

Fittipaldi remained at the wheel of the car with good race pace – turning similar lap times to those of the leaders. When the leading cars hit pit road for their first pit stops, the No. 5 Action Express Racing Whelen Corvette gained a lap back with just under two hours remaining in the race.

Team Engineer Iain Watt called Fittipaldi, who ran fourth, into pit lane for the team’s second stop with about 1 hour and 11 minutes remaining and the team delivered a routine stop of fuel, tires and a driver change. Barbosa strapped into the car and returned to the track sixth in the order and one lap down.

The race ran at a rapid pace with no yellow flag periods, so despite running lap times as fast as the leaders, the No. 5 Action Express Racing Whelen Corvette was able to return to the lead lap but had lost too much ground to make up any track position beyond fourth place.

“It wasn’t easy – we were definitely driving by ourselves and trying to catch up from a big setback,” said Barbosa. “But the car worked very well. I was able to push all the way through but the leaders were too far ahead unfortunately. There were no yellows in the race and it didn’t play into our favor. It’s a very tough championship and it’s a tough crowd out there so after a setback like that, it’s very hard to catch up and that’s what happened today. But that’s racing and we’ll move onto the next one and look forward to getting on the podium again.”

A final pit stop came for the team with 40 minutes to go, and the No. 5 machine took on fresh tires and a short fill of fuel that would see the team to the checkered flag. Action Express made up some time on the leaders with the pit stop strategy, but took home fourth place points in the end.

“We moved up from our starting spot to second in the opening laps and it looked like we were able to keep the leader in sight pretty well and then we got the flat tire,” said Team Manager Gary Nelson. “Unfortunately, there were no yellows for the whole event and we were off sequence. At one point we were two laps down and then we were one lap down and then we were back on the lead lap in fourth position. That’s what championship efforts are – when you have a bad day, you get all you can out of it and that’s what the Action Express team did.”

Action Express Racing now looks forward to the team’s return to the Brickyard Grand Prix held in two weeks’ time at the famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

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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