Action Express Racing Extends Championship Lead with Podium Finish

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adb5836a-f319-4230-801a-1d39bcf19f5dAustin, Texas (20 September 2014) – It was big day for Action Express Racing on Saturday as the team delivered another positive outing in the No. 5 Corvette Daytona Prototype to not only score a podium result of third but also solidify their position atop the IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship standings. With just one race yet to run in the 2014 Championship, Action Express Racing leads by 22 points over the No. 10 Corvette DP following the Lone Star Le Mans event at Circuit of the Americas.

Christian Fittipaldi and Joao Barbosa combined for the squad’s seventh podium of the year and led 24 laps en route to the podium finish. It was a welcome result for the team who now only needs to start the race at Road Atlanta in order to clinch the team championship title.

56bf9025-03c2-4fd3-ad64-6f462ff2be55Fittipaldi opened the race from fourth on the grid and slotted up into third on the start when two cars ahead got together in Turn 1. With Action Express Racing engineer Iain Watt coaching Fittipaldi to settle into a rhythm, the No. 5 ran in second through much of the first hour of the race.

When the event reached 45 minutes complete, the team called Fittpaldi to pit lane for fuel, tires and a driver change. A perfect pit stop saw Barbosa emerge from the pit lane fifth in line which was followed shortly thereafter by the one and only caution of the 2.75-hour race.

“Things went very well and we raced everybody out there with a certain margin for error,” said Fittipaldi following his opening stint. “Obviously we were paying a lot of attention to the championship. The car was very good. The championship is very important – much more important than anything else right now. We have to keep ourselves in the championship and if the race were to fall into our lap – excellent.”

As the cars circulated under yellow, Barbosa cycled up to restart fourth when the Lone Star Le Mans event went back to green with one hour completed. Running under hot and sunny conditions with the occasional sprinkle thrown into the mix, Barbosa ran strongly in the challenging circumstances and moved up to run second and then regain the lead with an hour and half to go.

IMSA Tudor SeriesBarbosa had extended his leading advantage to nearly 13-seconds when he took the No. 5 Corvette Daytona Prototype to pit road for a splash of fuel. Another fast pit stop by the Action Express Racing team saw Barbosa return to the track second in line and closing in on the leading No. 01 car. As Barbosa gained on the No. 01, he became not only the hunter but also the hunted as the third place No. 42 also gained on the No. 5.

The top-three ran in line for several laps and when Barbosa got caught up by several slower GT cars while being mindful of the maintaining good championship position, the No. 42 was able to slip by. Barbosa held on to take third at the checkered flag.

“We were having a great race and everything was working perfect,” said Barbosa of the run. “It was a great team result. We were in the fight right to the end and it actually got pretty hectic out there with a couple of the GT cars pushing me around. I said to myself that this wasn’t my fight and I knew where the other (championship contending) cars were. I said this was not our fight and we needed to get as many points as we could, as safe as we could, and that is what I did at the end and was just cruising to save third place without any worries. I am really proud of all the work that the guys have done this weekend and looking forward to Petit.”

The No. 5 Corvette Daytona Prototype finished ahead of the two closest championship contenders which has Action Express Racing very strongly positioned in the championship heading into the final round.

“We had a real opportunity I think to pull off the win today, but that would have been quite a gamble on fuel and we took the conservative route,” said Team Manager Gary Nelson. “We were in the same exact position earlier this year at Indy and we went for the win by gambling that we could save enough fuel, keep the lead, and make it to the finish. Unlike Indy, this time we chose to give up the lead and stop for a splash of fuel. It was a very hard decision because it is in our DNA to always go for the race win. Going to Atlanta with a slim overall points lead because our fuel gamble in COTA failed would have changed our approach for the NAEC championship considerably because the NAEC championship rewards points to the race leaders at several segments during the race. We will watch how things unfold in the early stages of the 10 hour Road Atlanta event and hope that we can get in a position to race hard for all three of our goals: the TUDOR Championship, Patron NAEC championship and another 2014 race win. That’s how we like to race.”

As leaders of both the overall and NAEC, Action Express Racing will look to claim both championship titles at Road Atlanta in two weeks. The team will return to a two-car entry with the addition of the No. 9 Action Express Racing Corvette DP of Burt and Brian Frisselle who will once again be joined by Jon Fogarty. Sebastien Bourdais will return to the team as the third driver in the No. 5 Corvette DP. Action Express Racing leads the NAEC 1-2 and will look to complete the 2014 championship the same way.

Action Express Racing remains the only team to have completed every TUDOR Championship race lap this year.

A two-hour recap show of the Lone Star Le Mans event from Circuit of the Americas will air on Sunday, September 21. Check your local listings.

Visit Florida Racing Sixth at Circuit of the Americas

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IMSA Tudor SeriesAustin, Texas (20 September 2014) – After getting off to a quick start at Circuit of the Americas early in the weekend, Visit Florida Racing did not have the race they had been hoping for in the Lone Star Le Mans event Saturday afternoon. The team took home a disappointing sixth place finish in the No. 90 VISIT FLORIDA Corvette Daytona Prototype despite having run in podium contention.

When the green flag flew for the Lone Star Le Mans, Michael Valiante opened the race from fourth on the grid but wasted no time in moving forward when he took advantage of two cars getting together in Turn 1 to move up to fourth in line. Making good decisions through slower GT traffic, Valiante got by the No. 01 DP – the eventual winner of the race – and took over third position.

IMSA Tudor SeriesVisit Florida Racing called the No. 90 Corvette DP to pit road for tires and fuel with 42 minutes completed in the race. Valiante returned to the track sixth in line only to be slowed by the first and only caution period of the race. He cycled up to third in the order under the yellow and took over the lead when the race went back to green.

Unfortunately, there was contact between the No. 90 and No. 42 prototype machines and IMSA deemed a drive through penalty on the Visit Florida machine. After pitting for the drive through, Valiante emerged fifth and 23 seconds behind the leader. Looking to make up the time lost, Valiante went to work and was up to third when he was called to pit lane for a driver change, fuel and tires.

“It was a tough weekend because we were good in the beginning and we kind of lost our way and found some things that we changed going into the race and weren’t really sure what kind of car we would have,” said Valiante. “Although we didn’t have the best car, we could still run with the leaders. I was able to get the lead on that restart when the No. 42 and I had contact. So I think in the end, had we not received that penalty from that, we had a top-three or top-four car. It’s a little disappointing but at the end of the day we just have to make the car better so that we are not fighting so hard to come from behind.”

IMSA Tudor SeriesRichard Westbrook took over with just over an hour to go in the race and returned the No. 90 VISIT FLORIDA Corvette to the track in sixth place. Unfortunately with no more yellows displayed in the race, too much time had been lost and despite setting quick and consistent lap times, there was simply too much time to make up without a caution.

“It was a very tough race for us, but the positive that we can take away from the whole weekend is that we are closer to second than we were before we came into this,” said Westbrook. “But that wasn’t our goal and we wanted to close the gap to the leader in the championship. We have been chasing the car and the track. The track conditions were really difficult out there and the track got really hot in the last stages of the race and there was just no grip out there.”

Visit Florida Racing now sits third in the championship just 23 points behind the leader and one point behind second place.

“It wasn’t the day we wanted for sure,” said Team Owner Troy Flis. “It’s tough. We know what to do and how to do it.  We’ve just been getting caught out. We need to keep our heads up and keep battling through. Everybody gets in these predicaments sometimes and we just have to struggle through right now and keep digging. We’ve got great guys, we’ve got great product. We have to keep our heads down and keep trying. We had issues all weekend, little things, nothing major. But nothing we could put our finger on. I think we had a decent car in the race. We got a penalty that we didn’t really need; that put us back. We would have been a top three car if we didn’t have that. All in all, I’m going to ask my drivers to keep trying and digging as hard as they can every lap. We’ll take that and move on. We’ve got one more to go and we’ve got to make one or two points on the No. 10 car to get second and we’ve got to keep the gap we have to the No. 42. It looks like the No. 5 car did a great job, like they have all year. We’ll battle for second and we’ll look at 2015.”

Visit Florida Racing will travel to Road Atlanta for the final round of the 2014 TUDOR Championship in two weeks.

The Circuit of the Americas event will be televised Sunday, September 21 on FOX. Check your local listings.

Top-Five Finish for Michael Shank Racing in Lone Star Le Mans

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4f00ff88-d758-404f-8364-314ec669463bAustin, Texas (20 September 2014)  – In racing, a moment can change the entire outcome of a race and that was exactly the case for Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian in the penultimate round of the IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship at Circuit of the Americas on Saturday. Both John Pew and Ozz Negri showed themselves strong in the No. 60 Ford EcoBoost Riley before tallying a fifth place finish at the checkers of the Lone Star Le Mans event.

After a series of practice and qualifying sessions on Thursday and Friday, Pew took the green flag for the 2.75-hour race from seventh on the grid. Following an aborted first start, Pew raced hard in the No. 60 for the first hour and ran as high as second place before pitting to hand the car over to Negri to finish out the race.

Unfortunately, just as the team was preparing to pit, the first and only caution period of the race fell and closed the pit lane, leaving Pew out on track with a quickly waning fuel load.

“It was too bad the first start was called off because I had a good start and got around the No. 2 car but on the second attempt I was unable to get around him,” said Pew of the start. “There was a lot of debris in the last two corners for quite a while and you have to drive off line to miss it. Finally at the very end of my stint, they were just about to call me in for the stop and then came the yellow. Because the pits were closed, I had to really work hard to save enough fuel to make it until we could get in for the stop.”

When the race returned to green, the team added fuel, bolted on fresh Continental Tires and Negri slid behind the wheel. As Negri rejoined the field, he quickly showed himself up to speed with the leaders of the race, but the off-sequence pit stop combined with a lack of caution periods meant that the team was unable to challenge for a podium finish.

After completing their final pit stop with just over an hour left to race, and without the benefit of any further caution periods, Negri ultimately had to play the fuel conservation game and drove home to a solid fifth place finish.

“It was an interesting race,” commented Negri after the race. “We got a little bit unlucky on that yellow. Ganassi pitted right before it went yellow. It’s tough coming from behind, going through the pack. The team did a great job coaching me through pace and saving fuel. It’s so frustrating because you want to go fast but at the same time, you have to save enough fuel to finish. I was looking at the dash and I couldn’t see any more lights on the fuel display and I thought I was out of fuel but the team said I had three more laps to go. I kept doing what I was doing and trying to keep up the pace as well. I tried to get to the No. 2 car but he was just a little too far ahead. We were able to gap the No.  90 – we started off about 11 seconds ahead of them and were able to stretch that out to about 20 seconds. The changes that we made for the race definitely made the car better. The hardest part is disciplining yourself not to go 10/10ths when the team is asking you to save fuel. You are lifting and braking earlier and short-shifting but we did what we had to do to finish P5. I thought we had the pace to be up there with the leaders if we had had track position.”

Team Owner Mike Shank was ultimately happy with the consistent result after a season of highs and lows for the determined team.

“We got a really bad break on the yellow and that’s really what cost us track position,” explained Shank. “Ganassi got the lucky break, they got in to pit on that yellow, but we couldn’t make it in time before the pits were closed. I’m actually happy with this result though. The car was a lot better than it was in qualifying and I know that if we could have had the track position, we could have been a top three finisher. Good for them and good for Ford Eco Boost, and all the guys at Roush Yates and Ford Racing. Congrats to all of them for a great win today.”

Michael Shank Racing now looks forward to finishing the season strongly in the IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship finale at Road Atlanta in just two weeks’ time.

Texas Take-Out for Konica Minolta Corvette DP

Ricky Taylor Gets Punted from Behind on First Turn of First Lap of Lone Star Le Mans,
He and Brother Jordan Unable To Finish Better Than Seventh; Championship Hopes Dashed

Date: Sept. 20, 2014
Event: Lone Star Le Mans (Round 10 of 11)
Series: Prototype division of the Tudor United SportsCar Championship
Location: Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas (3.4-mile, 20-turn road course)
Start/Finish: 2nd          / 7th (Running, completed 77 of 77 laps)
Point Standing: 2nd (293 points, 22 out of first)
Winner: Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas of Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates (Ford Riley)

They say two out of three ain’t bad, but for brothers Ricky and Jordan Taylor and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Chevrolet Corvette Dallara Daytona Prototype team for Wayne Taylor Racing, two out of three is disastrous after getting taken out on the first turn of the first lap of a two-hour, 45-minute Tudor United SportsCar Championship race for the second time in three events. This time, it was seconds after Saturday’s Lone Star Le Mans at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas went green and, this time, it essentially eliminated the Taylor brothers and their team from championship contention with just one race remaining.

Ricky Taylor was behind the wheel, getting a brilliant launch from the No. 2 starting position he earned in qualifying late Friday. He pulled well ahead on the outside of Gustavo Yacaman in the polesitting No. 42 OAK Racing Honda Lijier JS P2 heading into turn one. Meanwhile, Memo Rojas in the No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Ford Riley that started third was able to pull alongside Yacaman on the inside. Yacaman made an abrupt move to the right as Rojas was slowly closing the door and smacked into the back of Taylor, sending the No. 10 Corvette DP off course and damaging its left-rear tire, which immediately began coming apart.

The race remained green and Taylor was forced to limp slowly around the remainder of the 3.4-mile, 20-turn Formula 1 circuit so as not to inflict serious damage to the racecar’s suspension and bodywork by the tire that was quickly breaking apart. A close inspection by the team in the pits revealed no terminal damage and, after replacing both rear tires, the crew sent Taylor back on track but already one lap behind.

It turned out to be a deficit neither Taylor could overcome, and they were sent home with a hugely disappointing seventh-place finish. Coupled with the third-place finish by the points-leading No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP duo of Christian Fittipaldi and Joao Barbosa, the championship is all but decided with just the season-ending Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta left on the schedule.

As luck would have it, there was just one caution period the entire race that afforded the team an opportunity to work its way into a wave-around situation that would have put it back on the lead lap. It came at the one-hour mark. Ricky Taylor was in position to take on fuel and tires and get back out ahead of the leaders, but there was trouble on the stop. GT-class cars pitted just in front of the No. 10 Corvette DP left Taylor without enough room to enter his pit properly. The team had to spend precious time repositioning the car safely inside the pit box before it could begin its fuel-and-tire service and Taylor could not rejoin the race on the lead lap. That, as they say, was all she wrote.

“On the start, Yacaman was trying really hard to make up for a mistake he made and unfortunately got into the back of us and ruined our day,” said Taylor, who had to settle for a fourth-place finish with another potentially race-winning car after his brother got taken out on the way to turn one of the first lap of the Brickyard Grand Prix at Indianapolis two races ago. “We had a championship at stake today and, if I didn’t get by Yacaman there, I wouldn’t have gotten by him. After that point, I just had to get the car back to the pits as safely as I could. And then I pushed my absolute hardest for however long my stint was. We got really lucky with the one yellow, but I wasn’t close enough to the wall on our stop and lost that opportunity. So we had to do it all over again, trying to get back on the lead lap again, and we weren’t able to do so until late in the race. It’s just so incredibly disappointing.”

Despite the first-turn mishap, and the pit stop gone bad, Taylor repeatedly turned among the fastest laps of the race during his nearly two-hour stint and worked his way right behind the leaders just prior to pitting, both on his fuel-and-tire stop, and when he pitted just short of the two-hour mark to hand the car over to his brother.

Like his brother, Jordan Taylor also repeatedly turned among the fastest laps of the race despite a concerted effort to save fuel along the way. He eventually worked his way back onto the lead lap with 31 minutes remaining after the leaders made their final fuel-and-tire stops, but he could finish no closer than three-quarters of a lap behind the race-winning No. 01 Ganassi entry of Scott Pruett and Rojas.

“It was an incredibly frustrating day,” Jordan Taylor said. “Getting put off the track at the start and then being as far behind as we were all day was disappointing, especially with how good a car we had and all the Konica Minolta people we had here to support us. The car was good, so we can leave here feeling happy about that. We had a winning car on pace. Things just didn’t go our way today. Everyone did a great job. But it was just kind of out of our hands. I’m not even thinking about the championship anymore. We just want to win the Petit Le Mans and move on to next year on a good note.”

The victory by Pruett and Rojas was their first since the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring in March and their second of the season. Ricky and Jordan Taylor, meanwhile, fell 22 points behind Fittipaldi and Barbosa in the championship. Unless there are 18 or more entries at the Petit Le Mans, the Action Express duo has essentially clinched the inaugural Tudor series title. The Taylor brothers are in second place in the standings, one point ahead of the No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Racing Corvette DP duo of Richard Westbrook and Michael Valiante.

“All I can say is I just can’t stand it when things like this happen,” team owner Wayne Taylor said. “We get taken out again by the same car, got the back of our car wrecked, yet again, and the guy goes on TV and apologizes. He lifted our car off the ground. How do you do that and apologize? Like Jordan said after the race, there is such a thing as a brake pedal. It was also unfortunate what happened on one of the pit stops. The team next to us had its tires out so we couldn’t get into our pit. That cost us a chance to get back on the lead lap. Meanwhile, Ricky passed every single car on the track, and Jordan drove an excellent stint, as well, which means we had such a great car. And we had such a great group of sponsors here this weekend from Konica Minolta and Chevrolet and Velocity Worldwide, it just makes the way the day turned out simply devastating.”

The Tudor United SportsCar Championship concludes Saturday, Oct. 4, with the annual Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta. Race time for the 10-hour endurance marathon is 11 a.m. EDT with FOX Sports 2 kicking off its live television broadcast at 3 p.m. Video of the entire race will be streamed live at IMSA.com beginning at 11 a.m. The FOX network will air a two-hour rebroadcast of the race Sunday afternoon, Oct 5.

Fittipaldi Fourth on Grid for Action Express Racing at Circuit of the Americas

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Austin, Texas (19 September 2014)  – Christian Fittipaldi will start the Lone Star Le Mans event from fourth on the grid as the IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship marks the penultimate round of the 2014 championship on Saturday. Fittipaldi netted the second row starting spot during a 15-minute qualifying session Friday evening with a lap of 1:59.072-seconds at Circuit of the Americas.

The No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP improved through three practice sessions held Thursday and Friday ahead of qualifying as the team focuses on another positive race outing. Fittipaldi will open the race before handing the car over to Joao Barbosa who will anchor the car to the finish.

“It was a good effort from the whole team and from Team Chevy,” said Fittipaldi of the run. “We have a long race ahead of us tomorrow. What made me happy is that the car has only improved over the practices and into qualifying. In qualifying the car was the best that it’s been. We’ll see what we can do in the race. We’re satisfied with how we ran today and now we turn our focus to the race.”

Action Express Racing had three practices prior to Friday evening’s qualifying session and the team was quickly up to speed and posted the third quickest time in the first practice.

The team will now look to convert that positive momentum into a positive result in Saturday’s 2.75-mile race around the challenging 3.4-mile Texas road course.

A 20-minute warm up Saturday morning at 8:40 AM Central Time will take place ahead of the Lone Star Le Mans event which will go green at 11:35 AM Central Time.

The race will be televised LIVE on FOX Sports 2. FOX will also air the race on Sunday – check your local listings.

MRN Radio will also carry live coverage of the event at www.mrn.com.

As always, live timing and scoring can be followed at www.imsa.com throughout the weekend.

Michael Shank Racing to Start Seventh in Lone Star Le Mans

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Austin, Texas (19 September 2014) – Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian will start the Lone Star Le Mans at Circuit of the Americas from seventh on the grid for the 2.75-hour IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship event held at the 3.4-mile Texas road course.

The Ohio-based squad got up to speed quickly in the No. 60 Ford Ecoboost Riley as Ozz Negri and John Pew set the second fastest time of the first practice held on Thursday. The team continued to work to improve the car through two additional practice sessions on Friday ahead of the qualifying run in which Negri wheeled the car around the 17-turn circuit and set a fast time of 2:00.042-seconds.

“To be honest, we thought we had a P3, P4 car,” said Negri following the qualifying run. “Obviously, we didn’t. Before qualifying, we were suffering with a little bit of understeer in some of the corners. We did a change but it didn’t help – it actually went the other way. But you know, we race pretty well. We’ll try some other stuff tomorrow morning and see what happens in the race.”

John Pew will open the race before handing the car over to Negri to take to the checkered flag.

“We’re a little disappointed,” offered Team Owner Mike Shank. “Compared to what we thought we had. We have a little bit of work to do tonight and we’ll just look ahead to the race and see what we can do tomorrow.”

Michael Shank Racing will have a final 20-minute session Saturday morning to dial in the No. 60 machine. The Lone Star Le Mans event will go green at 12:35 PM ET and will be televised LIVE on FOX Sports 2.

The race will also air on FOX on Sunday – check your local listings.

Live timing and scoring is available at scoring.imsa.com.

Visit Florida Racing Ready for Lone Star Le Mans at Circuit of the Americas

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Austin, Texas  (19 September 2014)  – Racing for just the second time at the iconic Circuit of the Americas, Visit Florida Racing will look to move forward in the Lone Star Le Mans event on Saturday as the team pursues its fifth podium of the year in the penultimate round of IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship competition.

Richard Westbrook drove to a fast lap of 1:59.498-seconds in the No. 90 VISITFLORDIDA.com Corvette which secured sixth on the grid for Saturday’s 2.75-hour race event. Michael Valiante will open the race before turning the car over to Westbrook who will finish.

The qualifying result came as a bit of a disappointment for the team after having been quick in the three practice sessions leading up to the 15-minute qualifying. The No. 90 Visit Florida Corvette DP was quickest in the first session and then second quick in the final practice.

“We’ll keep working on it – we thought we had a better car than that for qualifying for sure,” said Team Owner Troy Flis. “But whether it was the track or whatever happened we just missed something. I think we have a good racecar but we’re just going to go back and check our notes and make sure we didn’t make a mistake or something. We just have to go and push hard. We have nothing to lose – just make points up on everybody. We’re going to go hard tomorrow.”

Rain has been in and around the Austin area throughout the TUDOR Championship weekend at Circuit of the Americas and with a chance of rain on Saturday, Visit Florida Racing is ready to go rain or shine.

“We haven’t run much in the rain this year, but I know Richard (Westbrook) enjoys racing in the rain,” added Flis. “The car is okay in the rain and it’ll be the same for everybody so we’ll take whatever is dealt to us.”

A 20-minute warm up is set for Saturday morning and the Lone Star Le Mans event will begin at 12:35 PM ET. FOX Sports 2 will carry LIVE coverage of the event. MRN Radio will also carry live coverage of the event.

FOX will also air the race on Sunday – check your local listings.

Live timing and scoring can be followed at www.scoring.imsa.com.

Wayne Taylor Racing Qualifying Report

Lone Star Le Mans at Circuit of the Americas

Date: Sept. 19, 2014
Event: Lone Star Le Mans (Round 10 of 11)
Series: Prototype division of the Tudor United SportsCar Championship
Location: Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas (3.4-mile, 20-turn road course)
Pole Winner: Alex Brundle of OAK Racing (1:57.809 at 103.897 mph – track record)
Wayne Taylor Racing: 2nd by Ricky Taylor (1:58.643 at 103.167 mph)

The No. 10 Konica Minolta Chevrolet Corvette Dallara Daytona Prototype for Wayne Taylor Racing will start Saturday’s Tudor United SportsCar Championship Lone Star Le Mans from the outside of the front row for the second year in a row after qualifying Friday at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.

Ricky Taylor, who with his younger brother and full-time co-driver Jordan Taylor are 16 points out of the Tudor championship lead with two races remaining, turned a fast lap of 1 minute, 58.643 seconds at 102.919 mph around the 3.4-mile, 20-turn Formula 1 road course. It was the team’s best qualifying effort of the season and was good for second among 52 car-and-driver combinations entered for Saturday’s two-hour, 45-minute race. The Taylor brothers are pulling double duty this weekend, co-driving the No. 65 Konica Minolta Michelin Chevrolet Corvette C7.R GTE-PRO-class entry with fellow American Tommy Milner in Saturday night’s six-hour FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) race here.

“It was starting to drizzle and there was no way we were going to be on pole, so we just came in a little early and called it a session,” said Ricky Taylor, who qualified fifth and finished 11th here last year co-driving the No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Corvette DP with Richard Westbrook, who got called for a late-race penalty. “The P2s (LMP2 cars) just have a lot in qualifying. The new (OAK Racing car of polesitter Alex Brundle) is very quick, obviously. I think we are the best of the DPs and that’s all we can ask for. The Konica Minolta Corvette was very good. I’m very happy for this qualifying result. We haven’t had such good ones this year. As for the race, with the latest round of BOP (balance of power) adjustments, I got behind a P2 and they are as quick as us in the straight and they maintain their advantage in the corners. So, the racing’s going to be different because we’re not going to be able to pass them like we have been able to.”

The top-five qualifiers for Saturday’s Lone Star Le Mans at Circuit of the Americas are:

1. OAK Racing (No. 42 Nissan Morgan) with Olivier Pla and Gustavo Yacaman (1:57.809 at 103.897 mph – track record).

2. Wayne Taylor Racing (No. 10 Corvette DP) with Ricky Taylor and Jordan Taylor (1:58.643 at 103.167 mph).

3. Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates (No. 01 Ford Riley) with Memo Rojas and Scott Pruett (1:58.928 at 102.919 mph).

4. Action Express Racing (No. 5 Corvette DP) with Christian Fittipaldi and Joao Barbosa (1:59.072 at 102.795 mph).

5. Extreme Speed Motorsports (No. 2 HPD ARX-03b) with Johannes van Overbeek and Ed Brown (1:59.074 at 102.793 mph).

Race time is 12:35 p.m. EDT Saturday with live television coverage on FOX Sports 2, as well as live radio from the Motor Racing Network available on IMSA.com and MRNRadio.com, as well as select radio networks. Saturday’s Tudor series race also will be rebroadcast in a two-hour package Sunday afternoon on the FOX network. Check local listings. Saturday’s six-hour WEC race will also be broadcast live in its entirety by FOX Sports 2 beginning at 6 p.m. Live timing and scoring during all Tudor series on-track sessions is available at IMSA.com and the IMSA smartphone app. Results and other information pertaining to the WEC event can be found at FIAWEC.com.

Double Duty Saturday for Konica Minolta Duo, Ricky and Jordan Taylor

Tudor Championship on the Line,
Followed by Six-Hour World Endurance Championship Race at Circuit of the Americas

AUSTIN, Texas (Sept. 17, 2014) – Talk about the ultimate Texas Two Step – the Konica Minolta driver duo of Ricky and Jordan Taylor is chomping at the bit to embark upon a sports car racer’s dream-come-true Saturday at the Circuit of the Americas Formula 1 circuit on the outskirts of the state capital of Austin. They’ll be competing in the two most high-profile sports-car-racing series in the world on the same day, and they have a legitimate shot at scoring a victory in both.

First things first, the drivers of the No. 10 Konica Minolta Chevrolet Corvette Dallara Daytona Prototype for Wayne Taylor Racing (WTR) will try and wrangle their way back into Tudor United SportsCar Championship title contention in the penultimate race of 2014 for competitors of that first-year series that took flight in January after the highly celebrated merger between the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series and the American Le Mans Series.

Following that two-hour, 45-minute race, the brothers Taylor will be joined by fellow American Tommy Milner behind the wheel of the No. 65 Konica Minolta Michelin Chevrolet Corvette C7.R for Saturday night’s six-hour FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) marathon, which is scheduled to end at 11 p.m. local time.

It all adds up to be the busiest but most exciting weekend of racing thus far in the already head-turning careers of 25-year-old Ricky Taylor and his 23-year-old brother Jordan Taylor, who have won 16 sports car races between them, including their first time visiting victory lane as co-drivers this past June in the Chevrolet Sports Car Classic on the Belle Isle street course in downtown Detroit.

Closing up a 16-point gap in the Tudor series standings with two races remaining is top priority this weekend for the Taylors and their No. 10 Konica Minolta Corvette DP teammates. Their Detroit victory put them first in the championship, where they stayed for three consecutive races before the No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP duo of Christian Fittipaldi and Joao Barbosa scored back-to-back wins at Indianapolis and Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin to offset their finishes of fourth and 10th at those two events. The latter finish by the No. 10 team came courtesy of a steering issue that led to a late-race accident that plucked the brothers Taylor from contention for the race win at Road America.

If last year’s inaugural and final Rolex Series race at Circuit of the Americas is any indication, the No. 10 Corvette DP should be one of the cars to beat once again. Jordan Taylor qualified on the front row and he and Max “The Ax” Angelelli benefitted from lightning-fast pit stops by the WTR crew that repeatedly put the racecar back on track in the lead. Only a late-race penalty for what was deemed avoidable contact with 15 minutes remaining kept Taylor and Angelelli from challenging for the race win. They finished 10th.

In the second half of Saturday’s doubleheader, the Taylor brothers and Milner represent the only all-American driver lineup in the 29-car field, featuring teams in LMP1, LMP2, GTE-Pro and GTE-Am classes. The FIA WEC is a global championship that features the 24 Hours of Le Mans, sanctioned by the Automobile Club de l’Ouest. Corvette Racing has won Le Mans seven times since 2001 – most recently in 2011 when Milner was part of the winning trio. Milner will also co-drive Corvette Racing’s No. 4 Corvette C7.R alongside Oliver Gavin in the GT Le Mans class of the Tudor series race Saturday.

The Corvette will find itself among familiar foes in the WEC round. Factory- and works-supported efforts from Aston Martin, Ferrari and Porsche make up the GTE Pro category. Corvette Racing competes in the class annually at Le Mans, where it finished second and fourth this year. Jordan Taylor was in the No. 73 Corvette C7.R that finished as the runner-up, and Milner’s No. 74 Corvette was fourth.

Taylor has been part of Corvette Racing’s Le Mans efforts for the last three years, and this year’s result marked his first podium in the race. He has one start for the team in the Tudor Championship, when he replaced Jan Magnussen Aug. 24 in the most recent round at Virginia International Raceway in Alton. It was the first time Taylor drove the Corvette C7.R in a high-downforce aerodynamic package.

Ricky Taylor drove a Corvette C6.R last year at Le Mans. This will be his first race in the Corvette C7.R, although he drove the car for demonstration laps at the new National Corvette Museum Motorsports Park in Bowling Green, Kentucky two weeks ago.

Practice for Saturday’s twin Lone Star Le Mans events begins Thursday afternoon. Prototype-class qualifying for the Tudor series race is set for 6:35 p.m. EDT Friday with a live video stream at IMSA.com beginning at 5:30 p.m. GTE-Pro qualifying for the WEC race begins at 7 p.m. Friday. The green flag for Saturday’s two-hour, 45-minute Tudor series race flies at 12:35 p.m. with live television coverage on FOX Sports 2, as well as live radio from the Motor Racing Network available on IMSA.com and MRNRadio.com, as well as select radio networks. Saturday’s six-hour WEC race will also be broadcast live in its entirety by FOX Sports 2 beginning at 6 p.m. Live timing and scoring during all Tudor Series on-track sessions is available at IMSA.com and the IMSA smartphone app. Results and other information pertaining to the WEC event can be found at FIAWEC.com.

RICKY TAYLOR, driver, No. 10 Konica Minolta Chevrolet Corvette Dallara Daytona Prototype for Wayne Taylor Racing:

You’re pulling double duty this weekend, which makes it far from a typical Tudor series event for you. What are your thoughts about the weekend?

“It is definitely going to be a unique and exciting new experience for me. We will be doing races in two very competitive classes so it will be a lot of pressure on us to not sacrifice anything in either race and give our 100-percent effort all around this weekend. We are mainly trying to prepare as much as we can before the weekend, physically, mentally, and logistically to make sure we have as little to worry about as possible during the weekend itself. Max (Angelelli), as always, will be there helping us get through it as he has experienced all of what we are going to experience this weekend. I will always look to him for his advice.”

You’re 16 points behind the No. 5 Action Express Corvette DP in the Tudor Championship standings with just two races remaining. What does that do as to how you approach these final two events?

“All we can do is try to win the last two races. After Mosport, they gained their lead in two races and there is no reason why we can’t reel it back in during the final two races, if all goes according to plan.”

What do you think about the Circuit of the Americas facility after having raced there last year with the No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Corvette DP team?

“I think the racetrack in Austin is the highest-level facility we go to, as well as one of the most fun to drive on. The track has a lot of different styles of corners and some very long straights, which will set up some great overtaking opportunities. There are also some infield corners where some creative passes could be made. Last year was not a great result for either Jordan’s or my team, but I feel that the 10 car was very quick last year and I hope we will show similar pace again in this year’s event. A lot has changed in the officiating since last year. We are able to get away with much more in terms of contact, which should make the racing exciting and allow the drivers to go for moves that we might have gotten a penalty for last year.”

You’ve had just a little bit of seat time in the Corvette C7.R. Do you think it will take long to get up to speed, and do you think the extra seat time doing double duty will be a benefit for you, overall, during the weekend?

“I had the chance to drive the Corvette C7.R at the National Corvette Museum Motorsports Park (in Bowling Green, Kentucky). It was a great opportunity to get comfortable with the team, the car and its systems during a few laps. The cockpit and ergonomics of the C7.R are great improvements, which makes it more comfortable than the C6.R I drove last year at Le Mans. I’m ready for the race and can’t wait to learn all I can from Tommy (Milner), Jordan and the rest of the Corvette Racing team. I am not sure how driving both cars will help either of them. I will have to wait and find out over the weekend. I do think that driving the Corvette again will give me a better understanding of what it’s like in a GT car to give me a better perspective when overtaking them in the Prototype.”

JORDAN TAYLOR, driver, No. 10 Konica Minolta Chevrolet Corvette Dallara Daytona Prototype for Wayne Taylor Racing:

Your thoughts about what is going to amount to a very busy weekend for you and your brother?

“It’s definitely going to be a busy weekend. Our schedule is pretty hectic with all the practice sessions between the two series, most of them being back-to-back. I think the main thing for our preparation is understanding the differences between the two cars and focusing on each car’s unique driving style. I have at least had a decent amount of time in the Corvette C7.R to understand what it needs, and obviously I have plenty of experience to be able to jump back into the DP. Both teams are very lenient with the schedule, understanding that we can’t be at one team the whole weekend, so each engineer will be looking to maximize the limited time we have together. I am definitely looking forward to it. It’s not often that you get to compete in the two biggest sports car championships in the same weekend.”

WTR took a hit in the championship standings after that 10th-place result at Road America six weeks ago. How will you rebound?

“Our approach with regard to the championship is, we can’t really change what we’ve been doing all year. We’ve had a bunch of podium finishes and a win this year. We’ve been doing all the right things, just a few bad races have set us back. We just need to make sure we are there near the front after the last pit stop when we can go racing. Now that we’re 16 points back, we can take a little more risk on track and with strategy to go for the win.”

How do you feel about not only racing in two high-profile series on the same day, but getting to do it at Circuit of the Americas?

“COTA is one of the best racing facilities we have now in North America. The track itself is extremely technical. It has all sorts of different corners – high-speed, low-speed, chicanes, hairpins, long sweepers, and elevation change. So, for a driver, it’s a real challenge to get the most out of the car. The two long straights lead into big wide brake zones into tight corners, which makes passing much more inviting. It all adds up to be one of those weekends that I’ll remember vividly for the rest of my life.”

What do you remember about last year’s race? You had a great car but a late-race penalty ruined the team’s day.

“Yeah last year was our first year going to COTA. We had a really strong car, qualified on the front row and ran in the top-three for most of the race. Last year, the aero changes had a much bigger window, and we were able to be more aggressive than other teams with our setup, which definitely helped. This year, going back will be a little different with the new rules, but after Road America, I’m confident we’ll be going there with a strong car.”

You had an unexpected chance to race the Corvette C7.R in this configuration at Virginia International Raceway in Alton a few weeks ago after regular driver Jan Magnussen was injured in practice. What did you learn, and do you think driving both the Prototype and GT-class Corvettes will help you, overall, this weekend?

“VIR was sort of a blessing in disguise. It was obviously under terrible circumstances with Jan’s accident and him not being able to drive. I was happy to fill in for him to help the team for the weekend. It was my first time driving the C7.R in high-downforce trim. At Le Mans, we were fully trimmed out in low downforce, so it was a big difference. It couldn’t have been better timing before COTA. I was able to get a feel for the car, not just in a normal testing condition, but in a competitive environment. So, not only did I get a feel for how the car handles, but also what it’s like battling with other GTLM cars. It gives me a little more confidence heading to Texas. With that knowledge, I can also give Ricky a few tips as to what to expect from the car when he jumps in it for the first time at COTA. As for all the seat time this weekend, I think any seat time is good seat time. The more laps we get around there, the more we can learn. If we find that focusing on a certain area of the track is worth time, then we can carry that over to the other team. But as a driver, separating the two cars’ driving styles and getting up to speed each session will be key.”

WAYNE TAYLOR, owner, No. 10 Konica Minolta Chevrolet Corvette Dallara Daytona Prototype for Wayne Taylor Racing:

Your overall thoughts as we head to Circuit of the Americas for what will be a very busy weekend for your sons Ricky and Jordan?

“This is going to be an incredible weekend. I’m looking forward to the IMSA race, to try and see if we can gain some points back in the championship. It will be difficult because the 5 (Action Express Racing Corvette DP) has done a great job all year. But, you never know. We are going to try and win, obviously. On top of that, Ricky and Jordan will be driving with Tommy Milner in the WEC race. It’s a full factory program, which is a huge deal for everybody. And it’s a six-hour race, which is going to make it a pretty long day for all three guys since they’ll be also racing the IMSA race. But they’re all young, they’re all focused, and they’re all great drivers. Thanks to Konica Minolta for making it all happen, along with Corvette Racing, Michelin, Chevrolet – everybody’s been really, really great and I hope we can give them the ultimate payoff. It’s all very exciting, the boys getting to race in the two most high-profile sports car series in the world on the same day and at such an incredible facility like Circuit of the Americas. You know, how cool would it be if they won both races?”

Action Express Racing Ready To Take On Circuit of the Americas

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Denver, N.C. (16 September 2014) – Action Express Racing enters the penultimate round of the IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship at Circuit of the Americas this weekend as the championship leaders with drivers Joao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi. In a season that has seen the team place among the top-five on the final scoring charts in all but one race this year, Action Express Racing carries even more momentum into COTA’s Lone Star Le Mans event after having scored back-to-back wins in the two previous rounds of Indianapolis and Road America.

With an eye on the overall championship, Action Express Racing remains focused on the task at hand which is to come out on top at COTA and make it three wins in a row with the No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette Daytona Prototype. The team works by the motto ‘Expect to Win’ and with that approach, the squad has won three of nine races and has stood on the podium six times in 2014.

“Last year as we arrived in Texas, it was our first time to race at that track, we didn’t know what to expect,” said Team Manager Gary Nelson. “When we left, we had a pretty long list of things to do differently. Our plan is to leave Texas Saturday evening with much more than just a “next time” list.”

Though there has been a six-week break in TUDOR Championship race action for the prototype machines, Action Express Racing has been full speed ahead with race preparations back at its Denver, North Carolina-based race shop. The group also had a successful test at Road Atlanta last week.

“We went to Road Atlanta last week and had a very strong test,” said Fittipaldi. “Chevy is putting a lot of effort behind the whole program. Action Express Racing is really putting a strong, quick car together for us. So I think we’re going to be ready for the race. It’s not going to be easy. It is very competitive and very tough out there. We’re just arriving from the two day test at Road Atlanta and it was very strong and hopefully we can translate what we learned into the race this weekend.”

A positive result at COTA would put Action Express Racing in solid championship position heading into the final round at Road Atlanta, but just as the team has done all year long, Action Express will take one step at a time with the goal of obtaining the best possible result in Saturday’s 2.75-hour race around the 3.4-mile Texas road course.

“Everyone at Action Express Racing is so focused and committed to performing the best,” offered Barbosa. “The preparation for this season started after the last race of 2013. Now, the team goes 100% prepared to every race, they do an extensive pre-race preparation at the shop, practicing all aspects of it. Heading to Austin we’re just planning on doing the same thing we’ve done at every race this year. We take one race at a time and right now we’re just focusing on a positive result at COTA.”

Action Express Racing will have three practice sessions to work on the set up of its No. 5 Corvette Daytona Prototype ahead of a Friday evening qualifying session which begins at 6:35 PM ET. A final 20-minute warm-up will take place Saturday morning at 9:40 AM ET prior to the green flag for the Lone Star Le Mans which will fly at 12:35 PM ET.

FOX Sports 2 will carry live coverage of the event beginning at 12:30 PM ET and you can catch the race in its entirety on Sunday, September 21 on FOX (check your local listings).

Live timing and scoring is available throughout the weekend at scoring.imsa.com. Follow @AX_Racing on Twitter for live updates through the weekend!