ACTION EXPRESS RACING POWERS TO A DOUBLE PODIUM IN THE 64TH ANNUAL MOBIL 1 TWELVE HOURS OF SEBRING
SEBRING, Fla. (19 March 2016) – Action Express Racing carried the banner for Chevrolet in the prototype class, posting finishes of second and third in the 64th annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.
Dane Cameron and Filipe Albuquerque found themselves locked in a race between teammates after a restart with just over 20 minutes remaining in the event. The Whelen Engineering Corvette DP, piloted by Cameron and the Mustang Sampling Corvette DP wheeled by Filipe Albuquerque quickly worked through traffic, putting distance between themselves and eventual winners Extreme Speed Motorsports. However, another late caution would reset the field and find the two teammates on the defensive against the fast P2 entry.
“It was a long day,” said Cameron. “I drove a lot and I am going to sleep very well tonight. I am really proud of the effort we put forth today in the Whelen Engineering Action Express Corvette today. It was an excellent effort from our team and I think we can be quite proud all around for the effort. All the drivers, the guys in the pits our spotters and everyone was really great today.
“We just didn’t quite have enough in the last couple of laps which is obviously very disappointing to come so close. It was a strong endurance race for us so we can push on toward the championship.”
Following his third place finish, Portuguese driver Filipe Albuquerque was complimentary of his team, and acknowledged how difficult accepting the third place finish was after spending time leading throughout the event.
“It was a hell of a day and crazy weather for everyone,” said Albuquerque. “We survived everything and we led a lot of the race. I think Joao and Christian and the team did a great job, but in the end it was just strategy and place. The P2 car was same story as Daytona. I couldn’t have expected him to brake so late into turn seven. I was at my limit and I couldn’t brake later. It was just pace. It is so frustrating to see the last seven laps with the win so close but at the same time so far.”
For team manager Gary Nelson, the effort his drivers and crewmembers displayed held true to the team’s “Expect To Win” philosophy.
“Everyone at Action Express Racing executed at a championship level today,” said Nelson. “Our Whelen Engineering Corvette DP and Mustang Sampling Corvette DP spent time pacing the field through both the wet and dry conditions, and our crew guys rose to the challenges they faced all day. You come to each race expecting to win and today we came up a little short, but in terms of the big picture and what we’re trying to accomplish, it was a great day in both the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup.”
The double podium moved Action Express Racing’s entries to second and third in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. Unofficially, the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Corvette DP has 60 championship points, while the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Corvette DP has a total of 59 points.
With the impending departure of Extreme Speed Motorsports before the series third stop in Long Beach, Action Express Racing will be leading the points among the full season entrants in the IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship.
Mustang Sampling triumvirate of Barbosa, Fittipaldi and Albuquerque also were crowned the winners of the second round of the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup, by scoring 13 points, while their teammates in the Whelen Engineering Corvette DP accumulated 12 points. The point totals of 26 for the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Corvette DP and 23 for the Whelen Engineering Corvette DP will position Action Express Racing in the lead of those teams expected to compete in the final two rounds of the NAEC championship.
As a team, the two entries led a combined 156 of the events 238 laps, for a total of 65 percent, the strong run left team owner Bob Johnson feeling confident as the team prepares for the West Coast swing.
“I couldn’t be happier with the performance of both cars,” said Johnson. “The effort Dane Cameron put in throughout the final three hours of the race was amazing, and for Joao Barbosa to get back in the car after having a cast removed on Monday, I felt he did an exceptional job for us.
“Christian Fittipaldi, Filipe Albuquerque, Eric Curran and Scott Pruett demonstrated how hard our crew guys work every day to build championship winning cars and I can’t thank them enough for that. At the end of the day, we came in second but it was a big picture day and we’ll hope to carry that momentum out to California in a couple weeks.”
While he left with his characteristic “never say never” attitude, the 64th running of the Twelve Hours could have been the farewell drive for Scott Pruett in a Daytona Prototype.
“It would have been awesome to win. The guys did a great job! Dane did a really nice job there at the end. He pulled a long one. Realistically this is probably my last Prototype race so it would have been nice to be on the top of the podium, but I couldn’t be happier with second place and this great group of guys. Everybody at Action Express Racing has been a real pleasure and welcomed me in as part of the family. I had so much fun today racing hard and taking the lead in my stints. It was a great day!”
The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship will be back in action on Saturday, April 16 in the Long Beach Grand Prix.