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Jul 26, 2014 - 05:45 PM
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Action Express Racing Wins Brickyard Grand Prix
Posted by: newsla on Jul 26, 2014 - 05:35 PM
USCR News
Action Express Racing Wins Brickyard Grand Prix


Perfect strategy and pit stops along with outstanding driving from Christian Fittipaldi and Joao Barbosa all combined at Indianapolis Motor Speedway Friday night to see Action Express Racing capture the team’s first-ever Indianapolis victory. The result added to the growing list of achievements for the North Carolina-based squad who opened the 2014 season with a big victory in the Rolex 24 At Daytona.

 

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Action Express Racing returned to the lead of the provisional IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship standings and the No. 5 Corvette Daytona Prototype remains the only car to have completed every race lap so far this year.

Fittipaldi and Barbosa dominated to lead a race-high 92 laps of the 108-lap event while also conserving fuel the entire race and delivered Action Express Racing the win and the opportunity for the entire team to kiss the famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway Yard of Bricks.

“It’s almost too much to believe all at once to win here in Indianapolis!” said team owner Bob Johnson after receiving the team owner trophy on the Indianapolis podium. “It is something we have worked so hard for and we came here feeling good thinking maybe this was our time and it was. What a great job from every single person on this team. The drivers were fantastic, both Joao and Christian did a perfect job in the car. Iain Watt (Engineer), Gary Nelson (Team Manager), Elton Sawyer (Director of Team Operations), the whole crew and everybody just did a great job. It was flawless. The pit stops really were big and I think that is just a result of a lot of hard work by the team. This is fantastic and will be great to add to our resume.”

Fittipaldi opened the race from the fourth position and capitalized on a wild start that saw several cars get together in the first turn to move into second place heading into Turn 1 and emerge from the first corner with the race lead. He led through the majority of his stint which saw a mix of green flag running and several caution periods.

Action Express Racing took advantage of the third full course with 2 hours and 10 minutes yet to go in the race to bring the No. 5 Corvette Daytona Prototype to pit lane for fuel, tires and a driver change. Barbosa strapped in and a quick pit stop by the Action Express crew saw the car return to the prototype lead.

An extended yellow ensued for track repairs and Race Strategist Iain Watt coached Barbosa to save as much fuel as possible while under the yellow.

When the field went back to green, there was just over an hour and a half remaining in the race and Barbosa set out to run a fast race pace while also continuing to conserve fuel. All four TUDOR Championship classes were back competing together with the nearly 50-car field making traffic a big factor.

That traffic came into play when a GT car ran into the back of the No. 5 machine which saw Barbosa drop to second in the order behind the No. 01. But remaining calm, cool and collected at the wheel, Barbosa began gaining on the leading No. 01 machine.

When the No. 01 took to pit lane for its second stop, Barbosa regained the race lead. A brilliant pit stop with 52 minutes remaining in the race saw the No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette Daytona Prototype leapfrog the No. 01 and return as the race leader.

Through the final stint, Barbosa managed to grow his margin on the field with each time by while also carefully managing the fuel in order to make it to the end. That fuel strategy worked out perfectly for the Action Express Racing team as all the other contending prototypes had to make a late-race splash for fuel while the No. 5 Corvette DP stayed out on track. With over a 45-second gap on the second place car, Barbosa had no pressure from behind as he took the checkered flag and the Indianapolis victory.

“I don’t think winning here in Indy has really sunk in quite yet, but it is definitely right up there,” said a pleased Team Manager Gary Nelson. “One of the things we have worked the hardest on this year behind the scenes is how to conserve fuel and not lose lap times. We actually did a test just for that purpose a couple of months ago at VIR. After Laguna we learned while we were saving fuel we were losing lap times and that hurt as at the end so when this race started, we looked at it as two stops and a splash. But then those two yellows came out and we decided to try and save fuel the whole way. I don’t think we could have done another lap, right after we took the white flag we went to reserve and it was a long last lap. But we made it and we are very thrilled. We came into the pits in second on our second pit stop and came out in first on the most critical stop and we were able to maintain the gap to the cars behind us. So having a fast car gives you a lot more options. But having a fast car that also gets good mileage is really hard to achieve. Today we had good mileage, a fast car, all the pit stops were flawless and all of those things had to line up today and they did.”

Action Express Racing looks to carry its winning momentum into the next TUDOR Championship round in two weeks’ time at Road America. The team took a double podium finish in last year’s event and aims to make it a repeat trip to the podium this year.

DRIVER COMMENTS:

Christian Fittipaldi, No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette Daytona Prototype: "It was definitely a smart, exciting race. Action Express gave me a very, very good car. We had the consistency and we had the speed throughout the race. I just had to keep it cool at the beginning of the race for my stint. I had to push but couldn't afford to make any mistakes. Obviously Joao (Barbosa) went out for a longer stint, and he did an excellent job, and he brought it home. We are really, really happy. It took a monkey off of our back because we’ve been knocking at the door for another win a couple of times now. I don't know what to say. It is fantastic. We are back to P1 in the points right now. It couldn't have been better a better day."

Joao Barbosa, No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette Daytona Prototype: "I was saving fuel the whole time once I got in the car. We knew that it would be the difference between one less pit stop at the end. That proved to be just a perfect decision. I was struggling a little bit in the beginning. It was hard to keep the other cars behind me. I was able to keep a good pace. The Corvette DP was awesome. Action Express did an excellent strategy, excellent pit stops, and gave me the lead at the end for the last hour. I was able to manage the fuel consumption, the traffic, avoid mistakes and bring it home. I am very proud of winning at Indy with such a great bunch of guys at Action Express. It is awesome to win here. Such a great place with such great history. To win Daytona and Indy in the same year - what an unbelievable achievement and feeling."

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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