Team, Drivers, and Patron Endurance Cup championships went to Action Express Racing’s Joao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi; Chevrolet Wins Manufacturers Championship
Braselton, Ga. (5 October 2014) – There were four championships up for grabs in the 2014 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship season-finale Petit Le Mans event at Road Atlanta on Saturday and Action Express Racing swept all four. To add even more to the celebrations, the team’s No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette Daytona Prototype of Joao Barbosa, Christian Fittipaldi, and Sebastien Bourdais finished runner-up in the organization’s first appearance in the classic Petit Le Mans.
It was the eighth podium result of the season for Action Express Racing which included victories in the Rolex 24 At Daytona, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and at Road America.
The No. 5 Corvette Daytona Prototype was one of only two cars on the lead lap which further extended the team’s record as the only car to complete every single race lap this year.
“How could I feel any better than this?” said proud Team Owner Bob Johnson. “This is awesome! It’s almost hard to believe! There’s so much to be thankful for. What a great team and what a great group of guys. They worked so hard all year long for this and we’re here! It’s fantastic!”
The No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette Daytona Prototype was the class of the field through the race as the team led 122 laps of the 400-lap event.
The first segment of the Patron Endurance Cup was completed at the four-hour mark when Bourdais ran third in the order. That was enough to give the team a five-point lead in the championship. And when the No. 5 Corvette DP led the race at the completion of the second segment eight hours in, it was enough to clinch the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup Championship.
In a race that saw 13 full course caution periods, the trio of Barbosa, Fittipaldi and Bourdais managed to remain trouble-free and led the race with less than 90 minutes remaining. With just over an hour to go in the race, the No. 10 Chevrolet was able to slide past the No. 5 for the race lead when Fittipaldi got held up by GT traffic. The team held on to second through a furious final hour of racing as Fittipaldi handed the car over to Barbosa who anchored it to the finish and took home a second place podium result in the prestigious Petit Le Mans.
“The successes we are enjoying have come from the skill, hard work and good decision making of each member of the Action Express race team and our supporters,” said Team Manager Gary Nelson. “It is truly an honor for me to see their efforts come together with these amazing results. We all set many goals each season. One goal that we set (and accomplished) may not be as well known as some of the others which is our goal to remain true to the Action Express Racing mission statement: To successfully race for wins and championships for our owners and sponsors. We will do this within a reasonable budget, in a positive working environment that promotes teamwork, innovation and continuous improvement.”
Despite having an equally strong car with the No. 9 Action Express Racing Corvette Daytona Prototype, the team was forced to retire the car early when damage to the machine proved too much to be repaired. Burt Frisselle opened the race from the rear of the field after the car was involved in a qualifying incident and did not set a time. He moved all the way through the combined field of four classes to sit fourth before pitting to hand the car over to his brother and co-driver Brian Frisselle.
A great pit stop saw the No. 9 Corvette DP emerge third in line. Brian had a strong stint and reported that the car was very good around the 2.54-mile road course as he ran among the top-five throughout his entire run. Just over three hours into the race, the Action Express Racing team called Brian to pit road under yellow for routine service and a driver change.
Jon Fogarty took control of the car and set to work as he took the well-performing No. 9 machine to the front to earn valuable points toward the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup. Fogarty made his way up to run second and into the lead position for the Patron Cup points, only to sustain contact from a GT car that had slowed at the exit of the corner as it appeared to miss a shift.
The result was disappointing for the team which had run strongly all weekend and looked poised for a positive result in the Patron Endurance Cup championship.
Action Express Racing will celebrate the four championships Monday, October 13 in New York City as IMSA celebrates the 2014 season.
A recap show of the Petit Le Mans will be televised Sunday on FOX. Check your local listings.
ACTION EXPRESS RACING DRIVER QUOTES:
JOAO BARBOSA, NO. 5 CORVETTE DP: “It feels great. We entered the weekend with a plan to win all the championships we were entered in and what a great year. It was really unbelievable. I’m really proud of all he Action Express Racing guys. We were able to win the team manufacturer championship, drivers championship, and the Patron Cup so it was an amazing year. I’m very proud of everyone involved with this team. It’s been a long time coming and it’s been a tremendous year – I’m very proud of everybody.”
CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI, NO. 5 CORVETTE DP: “It was an awesome season for everyone at Action Express Racing. Joao, myself and Sebastien all managed to achieve so many great things this year. Winning the Daytona 24, the TUDOR Championship, and the Patron North American Endurance Cup, it’s just been such a great year. I don’t know what to say. It couldn’t be any better than this. Obviously there was a huge team effort from Action Express Racing and we’re very, very excited. The competition was very difficult the whole season and that means we have to work even harder next year.”
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS, NO. 5 CORVETTE DP: “It was a great race. The team swept the Tequila Patron Endurance Cup, Driver and the team championship well. So it was a great day for everybody at Action Express, Chevy and ECR and I couldn’t be any happier. I had my small contribution and I was just happy to contribute to this great effort. It was good to be a part of the Action Express Racing organization and hopefully we can do this again next year.”
BURT FRISSELLE, NO. 9 CORVETTE DP: “Once we got to work racing, we had some nice yellows that helped us manage those gaps to the leaders and we were a solid fourth in class and overall. It was a great first stint for me. It was really excited because the car was really easy to drive and it was really comfortable inside the car, and we knew at that point that we had the track position we did. We needed to maintain for the next seven hours and see what we had. It’s a huge bummer that we didn’t get to finish the race and get the result we intended. A huge thanks to the Action Express Racing guys. They did an absolutely great job getting the car ready for the race today.”
BRIAN FRISSELLE, NO. 9 CORVETTE DP: “It’s a bit of a bummer about what happened, but that’s racing. I found that out yesterday in qualifying and sometimes stuff like this just happens. The car was pretty good. I was being pretty conservative out there – coming to grips with things like the brakes. I am so grateful for the opportunity that Action Express gave us and the car they gave us.”
JON FOGARTY, NO. 9 CORVETTE DP: “It was a great opportunity to run with Action Express Racing in the Patron Endurance Cup and the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship. I’m pretty gutted to have it end like this. We weren’t able to get back out there and compete for what we came for, which was the championship in the Patron North American Endurance Cup. I’m gutted for the Action Express guys and my teammates. The car was fantastic but that’s the way it goes sometimes. We definitely broke something in the steering rack that potentially impacted the power steering motor, as well and Road Atlanta isn’t a place where you want to mess around with that kind of stuff.”