Action Express Racing Claims Four Championship Titles in IMSA Season-Finale

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Team, Drivers, and Patron Endurance Cup championships went to Action Express Racing’s Joao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi; Chevrolet Wins Manufacturers Championship

IMSA Tudor SeriesBraselton, 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.

IMSA 2014:   Tudor United SportsCar Championship Petit Le Mans Oct 04The 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.

IMSA Tudor SeriesIn 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.”

IMSA Tudor SeriesDespite 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.”

Frustrating Finish to 2014 for Visit Florida Racing

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Third in championship as focus moves to 2015

Braselton, Ga. (4 October 2014) – Despite hosting an enthusiastic group of Visit Florida guests on a perfect sunny day at the races and having a very fast Corvette DP race car, the 2014 season didn’t close out as Visit Florida Racing had been hoping on Saturday.

After a qualifying run that placed the No. 90 Visit Florida Corvette DP on the second row to start Saturday’s 10-hour Petit Le Mans, a freak incident during a full-course caution period just before the halfway mark essentially put the No. 90 out of contention in the season-ending IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship Petit Le Mans event.

The team, with drivers Richard Westbrook, Michael Valiante and endurance race specialist Mike Rockenfeller, soldiered on to the finish with the crippled machine in P23 overall (seventh in class), 19 laps down from the winner.

The result thwarted the team’s ambition to return to victory lane and close out the year second in the overall championship. There was good reason for the team to have had confidence for reaching their goals after the opening segments of the race showed the Visit Florida machine to have great pace.

The 17th-annual Petit Le Mans was marked by a record-breaking 13 full-course caution periods and some of the more unexpected incidents in its history, including a fracas in pit lane.

Rockenfeller took the green flag at 11:15am, moving up to take second place during his double stint before handing off to Valiante. Rockenfeller reported having a pretty smooth time in the car after the German DTM star emerged from his first stint.

“It wasn’t too bad,” said ‘Rocky’. “As the tires went off, I had to be careful. Traffic is really the key here, and how you get through. I tried to stay out of trouble, and we are still there.”

During Valiante’s run, the gloves began to come off on track, though he held his ground and topped out his double stint in fourth position.

“We had some contact with one of the GTD cars,” said Valiante. “I guess he didn’t see us when he was passing us, and knocked me back to sixth. We were able to work our way back up to fourth. The car was still fine after the contact, and in good shape.There was a varying degree of driver experience out there, and there have been a lot of incidences with car contact. This whole race is just going to be trying to survive and there is going to be a lot more carnage.”

The prophecy of those words were just about to manifest for the team when Westbrook took over with 3.5 hours of the race completed. While under a caution flag, a GTD class Audi attempted an ill-advised re-positioning move in the middle of a corner while circulating behind the safety car, shoving Westbrook’s Corvette off-course and causing front end damage. While he managed to get the car back to the garage area for repairs, the off-track time and lingering effects of the damage ended the team’s shot at a second victory of the season.

For the balance of the race, Rockenfeller and Valiante each completed another round of double stints before Westbrook was loaded into the Corvette to bring it home.

“We had a lot of promise for a while, we were racing hard and fighting for the win,” reflected Westbrook after the race. “We were in a strong position when the incident happened under full-course yellow which changed our day. It was a really big hit so after that we had so many problems because of the damage on the car. The main thing is we didn’t lose anything in the championship. Of course, we came here today with the objective of taking the fight to the No. 10. Both of the other drivers did really well so it’s a shame. But at least we still finished third in the championship.”

Team Owner, Troy Flis, focused on what the team learned and how it will frame their off-season.

“The story of today wasn’t really the story of our year,” supplied Flis. “At the end of the season, we just weren’t as strong as we were at the beginning. We’ve just got to go back to the shop and work harder. We’ve got to get stronger, get more depth in the team. We’ve got great guys this year and I’m happy about that but we were really hoping to end up second this year, which would have been our best finish in the championship. But we didn’t give up and looking at it as a whole, I think we did a decent job. We’re going to come back next year, get stronger, and work to improve on where we made our mistakes this year.”

Flis also spoke of being motivated by their competition.

“The Action Express guys did a fabulous job all year, they deserve the championship. You’ve got to go beat those guys, you’ve got to learn from them and make your program better so you can take the fight to them. I’m happy, but I’m also sorry we couldn’t have finished the season better for our partners, Visit Florida, GoPro, Chevrolet, everybody who has helped us so much. We appreciate their help.”

Petit Le Mans marks the final race of the 2014 IMSA-sanctioned Tudor United SportsCar Championship but viewers have one more chance to catch the action, Sunday, October 5 on FOX (check local listings).

The cars will kick off the 2015 season at the Roar Before the Rolex 24, January 9-11 at Daytona International Speedway.

Promising Pace with Fan Car at Petit Le Mans Does Not Deliver Hoped-for Result For Michael Shank Racing

Braselton, Ga. (4 October 2014) – As one of only two teams in the 52-car field that did not augment their driver line-up for the 10-hour Petit Le Mans enduro classic, Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian knew they had their work cut out for them. But with two strong and fit drivers, encouraging performance in practice, and the hopes of hundreds of Michael Shank Racing fans whose photos adorned the Ford EcoBoost/Riley machine, the team was optimistic about closing the 2014 season on a high note.

From a starting position on the third row, driver Oswaldo Negri Jr. made a huge start, charging to third by the end of the first lap. Settling into the rhythm of the race, the team looked well positioned for the day, though Negri did report some shifting problems in the early laps.

Saturday’s cooler conditions definitely helped Ozz during his opening three-stint run.

“It’s cooler and obviously I’ve been training a lot for it,” said Negri, who spent last weekend on triathlon duty. “Mentally I think that will take a bigger toll on the drivers than physically; traffic is crazy out there! The car felt good though. The only problem I had was that we were mis-shifting when I went to downshift. I had to be very careful because when you’re going into a turn with a lot of speed and it’s just not the gear that you called for, it can be a bit scary.”

The shifting problems that Negri reported would continue to worsen over Pew’s double stint though he was able to keep the No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Fan Car EcoBoost-Riley in the top-five throughout.

In the fourth hour, Negri re-entered the fray but soon thereafter, the gearbox issue became critical and the team called him to the pit box for repairs.

“As soon as I got in; I went into fourth gear and could hear a gear noise,” said Negri. “We definitely broke fourth gear. So we came in and changed the gear box. Once we were back in the race, I was able to keep up with the No. 01 car that was running in third at the time. At the beginning of the race I was pretty sure we had the pace for a podium finish and we were definitely able to keep up with the top teams.”

Negri and Pew continued to alternate time in the car, doing double-stints each until Pew took over for the final 45-minute run to the checkered flag.

Pew’s fitness level meant he still looked fresh after the race but of course, it took a toll.

“It was a long day!” Pew laughed after taking the checkered flag in his Petit Le Mans debut. “I needed a few more minutes in the car to meet the requirements so I got the last stint. Of course it makes you a little nervous; it’s pitch black out there and you’ve got to bring it home in one piece! There was a lot of stuff going on but we were separated from seventh place by at least a lap so we didn’t have to do anything crazy.”

Team owner Mike Shank took a pragmatic view of the race, particularly in the context of the season’s end.

“The first four hours went literally exactly how we wanted them to, but then we had an electrical issue that caused a shifting problem and it ruined our day,” said Shank. “I feel horrible. We were right on the pace where the No. 01 (Telcel Ford EcoBoost Prototype) was, more or less. It just wasn’t meant to be. It’s been a tough year. We made tons of progress. I’m really proud of what our team has done with Ford Racing and the progress we’ve made from Daytona until now. I’m looking forward to what comes next. I think the progress we’ve made is a sign of what we can still do, and that’s great.”

Petit Le Mans marks the final race of the 2014 IMSA-sanctioned TUDOR United SportsCar Championship but viewers have one more chance to catch the action, Sunday, October 5 on FOX (check your local listings).

Thank you to Ford Racing, Curb Records and the Curb/Agajanian group, AERO Paints, Roberts Service Group, the Rocky Fork Company, Cap and Associates, and CRC Industries for your support and partnership through this inaugural IMSA season.

Thank you as well to all the outstanding MSR fans and the entire Michael Shank Racing crew for all your tireless efforts, as well as the huge performances and never give up attitude from Michael Shank Racing drivers John Pew, Ozz Negri, Justin Wilson, and AJ Allmendinger.

The 2015 season will kick off at the Roar Before the Rolex 24, January 9-11 at Daytona International Speedway.

Oh, Atlanta! Taylors, Angelelli Win Petit Le Mans

Konica Minolta Corvette DP Trio Leads 248 of 400 Laps To Close Season in Style
16 Years after Wayne Taylor Co-Drives To Victory in Inaugural Petit Le Mans in 1998

Date: Oct. 4, 2014
Event: 17th Annual Petit Le Mans (Round 11 of 11)
Series: Prototype division of the Tudor United SportsCar Championship
Location: Road Atlanta (2.54-mile, 12-turn road course)
Start/Finish: 2nd          / 1st (Running, completed 400 of 400 laps)
Point Standing: 2nd (330 points, 19 out of first)
Winner: Ricky Taylor, Jordan Taylor and Max Angelelli of Wayne Taylor Racing (Corvette DP)

It’s not the season-ending championship the No. 10 Konica Minolta Chevrolet Corvette Dallara Daytona Prototype team for Wayne Taylor Racing (WTR) set out to accomplish for the second year in a row, but a thoroughly dominating victory in the inaugural Tudor United SportsCar Championship season-ending Petit Le Mans endurance marathon Saturday at Road Atlanta will certainly do.

This year’s full-time co-drivers, brothers Ricky and Jordan Taylor, became the first Americans to bring home an overall win in this 10-hour event 16 years after their father, South African-born Wayne Taylor, co-drove to victory in the very first Petit Le Mans in 1998.

The Taylor brothers shared this dominating victory with veteran Italian Max “The Ax” Angelelli, who they shared the driver’s seat with at the four Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup events this season – the Rolex 24 At Daytona, 12 Hours of Sebring and Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen being the other three.

Together, they led 248 of the 400 laps completed today around the 2.54-mile, 12-turn road course, including Jordan Taylor’s final 65 laps at the point after getting past Christian Fittipaldi in the season-long championship-winning No. 5 Action Express Corvette DP with one hour and 27 minutes to go before the checkered flag.

It was the team’s third consecutive victory in a season finale, the previous two years at Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Connecticut in GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series competition. Last year’s clinched the final Rolex Series driver championship for Jordan Taylor and Angelelli.

Tonight’s victory also put an exclamation point on the 100th race since the inception of Wayne Taylor Racing at the outset of the 2007 Rolex Series season, and it was the team’s second victory of the season to go with the Taylor brothers’ triumph on the Belle Isle street circuit in downtown Detroit in June.

“My Dad won the first one (Petit Le Mans), so we have always heard about it,” Jordan Taylor said after his seventh Prototype-class victory in the past two seasons and eighth career sports car win. “He always talks so highly of it and puts it up there with Le Mans and Sebring and Daytona as his overall wins. It was definitely cool to do it. Especially with Max (Angelelli) with us. We had a great Daytona. Finished second there, so it is nice to close the season with a win and kind of doing it in dominant fashion, where we pretty much led the whole race. That was pretty cool. It is definitely momentum going into the offseason. The last two races, we had the car to beat so we are looking forward to next season.”

Once Taylor got past Fittipaldi at the eight-hour, 33-minute mark, he was able to quickly stretch the lead to more than 30 seconds. When Fittipaldi pitted for fuel and to hand the No. 5 Corvette DP over to Joao Barbosa with 39 minutes to go, Taylor drove on by to put him a lap down. Taylor made his final fuel stop with 33 minutes remaining and had a full lap plus six-second lead on Barbosa. He resumed more than 30 seconds ahead and held that gap until the caution flag flew with 17 minutes remaining in the race for an accident in the esses.

The race returned to green with six minutes and 30 seconds remaining with 11 cars on track between Taylor and the second-place Barbosa. Taylor was able to pull away over the final seven laps and crossed the finish line 11 seconds ahead of Barbosa.

“It was a great way to finish the season,” said Ricky Taylor, who qualified second and started the race, and passed the polesitting Barbosa for the lead on lap 10, 12 minutes into the race. “Great finish for Chevrolet for another one-two finish. Congratulations to the No. 5 car for the championship. We wish we were there to fight for the title win this weekend, but we will come back next year even stronger. We went from the lead the first half of the race, to a lap down, and back to the win. It was great.”

Ricky Taylor was in the lead when he pitted under caution to hand the No. 10 Corvette DP over to his brother on lap 68, one hour and 39 minutes into the race. Quick work by the WTR crew put Jordan Taylor back out on track in the lead.

Angelelli’s lone appearance behind the wheel was a lengthy triple stint in the middle stages of the race and, like the Taylor brothers, he was able to avoid numerous opportunities for trouble in a race slowed by 13 caution periods.

“Everyone on the team did a good job, including the drivers,” said Angelelli, who celebrated his 27th career sports car victory. “We definitely delivered. I am really happy for Chevy. Our Corvette DP was the fastest car on track. We won the race and this race for me is special because it is the fourth big race in the championship. I only need to win Sebring and then I have everything. Winter is going to be very short because we will be back soon ready for next year.”

The victory pulled the team within 19 points of Fittipaldi and Barbosa and the No. 5 Corvette DP team in the final standings of this inaugural Tudor series season. A pair of first-lap, first-turn incidents at the previous three events – not of the No. 10 team’s making – along with a broken steering system that led to the team’s only DNF (did not finish) of the season at the other event, knocked the team out of the points lead it held for the middle part of the season.

Angelelli and the Taylor brothers also finished second to the No. 5 Corvette DP in the Endurance Cup championship-within-a-championship. They entered the weekend just six points out of the lead but the No. 5 team was able to stay close enough to the No. 10 Corvette today at the points-paying four- and eight-hour marks to hang onto the lead.

“Winning this race 16 years ago, when Ricky and Jordan were 9 and 7, and now coming here and watching them win it with Max is just unbelievable,” said team owner and three-time sports car racing champion Wayne Taylor. “But winning it could never have been done without the support of Mark Kent and Jim Campbell and Mark Reuss and everybody from Chevrolet. And Konica Minolta, who really saved the day when they came on to sponsor us after Daytona and Sebring, I can’t be thankful enough. The team was flawless today, the drivers were flawless. We’ve had the best drivers all year. They’ve just not had the best luck. I think tonight proved what they can do. I do want to congratulate the No. 5 team on the championship. Those guys ran pretty flawlessly all year. They never put a wheel wrong. They deserved the championship.”

The Tudor United SportsCar Championship kicks off the 2015 season with the traditional Rolex 24 At Daytona at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway Jan. 24-25.

Action Express Racing Wins 2014 IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship

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Braselton, Ga. (4 October 2014) – Action Express Racing kicked off the final race of the inaugural TUDOR Championship with another big accomplishment as the team’s No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette Daytona Prototype won the 2014 Team Championship on Saturday when it took the green flag for the 17th running of the Petit Le Mans.

Marking just its fifth year of competition for the team that won its first-ever race (2010 Rolex 24 At Daytona), the title marks a long sought-after achievement for the team. The 2014 season saw Action Express Racing demonstrate incredible preparation and execution from the crew as well as its principal drivers Joao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi. The hard work yielded three race victories and an impressive seven podium results in the first 10 events.

The team is the only one to have completed every race lap so far this year. In the races Action Express Racing has entered, each car has completed every lap.  The No. 5 Corvette Daytona Prototype has run all 1,777 laps in its 10 races while the No. 9 Corvette Daytona Prototype has run all 1,177 laps in its three North American Endurance Cup (NAEC) events for a combined team total of 2,954 laps completed.

Action Express Racing kicked off the 2014 championship in strong fashion by winning the Rolex 24 At Daytona for the second time in five years. The squad kept that momentum rolling with podium finishes in the 12 Hours of Sebring and Long Beach as well as the Sahlen’s 6 Hours of the Glen. Back-to-back victories at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Road America, plus an additional third place podium result at Circuit of the Americas two weeks ago, put the team solidly atop the point standings heading into the final round.

“This has been such a special season with so many highlights it is difficult to express just how proud I am of our entire group of professionals,” said Team Owner Bob Johnson. “To start off the inaugural season of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship with a win in the Rolex 24 At Daytona was so very special and then to add a win at the Brickyard and Road America is amazing. Now to have the 2014 TUDOR Championship  title and a chance to add the Patron North American Endurance Cup Championship is an accomplishment few will be able to match. This team deserves it all as they have worked harder, longer and smarter than any other. This is a season of a lifetime and I just thank God for all of our blessings!”

With the green flag having flown on the 10-hour Petit Le Mans event, Action Express Racing still has three more ambitions on the day: to clinch the TUDOR Driver’s Championship titles for Barbosa and Fittipaldi, to win the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup championship, and to take victory in the prestigious Petit Le Mans race.

Fielding two cars in each of the four NAEC rounds, Action Express Racing is back to a two-car entry for the season-finale and will work as two cars but one team as the organization currently sits first and second in the NAEC championship.

“We are absolutely thrilled to win the 2014 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship,” said Team Manager Gary Nelson. “It is a testament to how hard everyone at Action Express Racing worked this year. I could not be more proud of this team. We will now watch how things unfold in the early stages of the 10-hour Petit Le Mans event and hope that we can get in a position to race hard for our two other goals which are to win the Patron Endurance championship and get another 2014 race win.”

Visit Florida Racing Scores Third on Petit Le Mans Grid

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10-hour enduro to close out the season

Braselton, Ga. (3 October 2014) – Visit Florida Racing is looking to wrap up the 2014 IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship season with a strong run on Saturday in the 17th Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta.

Richard Westbrook, Michael Valiante and Mike Rockenfeller will share the driving duties in the No. 90 Visit Florida Corvette DP during Saturday’s 10-hour endurance classic, with Westbrook having secured third overall on the four-class IMSA grid with a fast lap time of 1:14.920-seconds to take a spot on the inside of the second row.

Conditions in today’s qualifying were challenging as rain had been falling intermittently throughout the day. While the skies were only overcast during the 15-minute session, two red-flag stoppages made it difficult for the drivers to get a hot lap on the board. Qualifier Richard Westbrook explained some of the challenges of conditions at the 2.54 mile, 12-turn circuit.

“Unfortunately we couldn’t put down that lap quickly obviously with only five minutes to go (after the red flag) but I’m encouraged for the race and I think it’s going to be a good race,” said Westbrook. “For a 10 hour race, qualifying doesn’t mean much but it’s always nice to be starting up front.”

Team Owner Troy Flis was pleased with the effort and is looking forward to Saturday’s Petit Le Mans.

“I’m happy and I think we have a good racecar,” said Flis. “I think the guys are confident in the car and that’s what we need for 10 hours. We’re going to pass a lot of cars and make sure to keep our minimum speed up as much as possible. Of course we would have loved to get on the front row for Visit Florida since it’s a big event for them but it is what it is. Hopefully we get a positive result for them tomorrow.”

The Petit Le Mans will go green Saturday at 11:15 AM ET. IMSA.com will stream the event LIVE and FOX Sports 2 will pick up the race in progress beginning at 3:00 PM ET.

MRN Radio will also broadcast the 10-hour race in its entirety at www.mrn.com.

Third Row Start for Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian in Petit Le Mans

Braselton, Ga. (3 October 2014) – Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian will start Saturday’s 17th running of the Petit Le Mans from the third row after Ozz Negri posted a fast lap time of 1:15.346-seconds to take sixth on the grid for the season ending 2014 IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship event.

Negri’s co-driver John Pew will open the 10-hour race from behind the wheel of the No. 60 Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian Ford EcoBoost/Riley machine before turning the car over to Negri to take to the finish. The duo is the only Prototype team completing the race with just two drivers.

Michael Shank Racing opened the first practice session with a fast car right from the start, posting strong lap times in the mixed GTD and Prototype Class practice sessions.

“It’s not too bad, the car I think could be pretty good in the race,” said team owner Mike Shank. “For speed, I think we’re actually a little bit better than the Corvette but we’re still not where we need to be qualifying-wise. I think in the race, we should be okay. It’s a long race and we know anything can happen. We need to do a little work for warm-up but I think we’ll be good.”

The qualifying session was halted several times for cars off track but Negri was able to put in a fast lap of 1:15.346-seconds in the abbreviated session to take sixth on the grid.

“It’s the same for everybody,” said Negri of the limited track time. “I think we had more understeer than I wanted – more understeer than what I like. To be honest, on the last lap I made a mistake going into Turn 10a and it definitely cost us a tenth there, but that’s alright, it’s a long race. Last year I finished second here at Petit (racing in a PC car with Sean Rayhall) so I’m looking forward to it.”

The Petit Le Mans will start at 11:15 AM ET on Saturday. LIVE coverage will be carried via video streaming on IMSA.com with FOX Sports 2 to broadcast the race in progress starting

Action Express Racing on Pole for Petit Le Mans

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87ae6ed9-c340-4ff7-89fc-b066937601b2Braselton, Ga. – Action Express Racing returned to the top at Road Atlanta on Friday when Christian Fittipaldi secured the pole position during qualifying for the Petit Le Mans. The No. 5 Corvette Daytona Prototype posted the fastest time of the 15-minute session with a lap of 1:14.508-seconds around the 2.54-mile road course located outside of Atlanta.

“It definitely was a great job from everyone at Action Express Racing,” said Fittipaldi following the qualifying run. “If we didn’t have a competitive car and didn’t have the effort of the whole team and Chevy behind us, we wouldn’t be in this position. We knew we had a strong car yesterday, but yesterday with all four classes on track, it was almost impossible to get in a clean lap. The track, in my opinion, was worse than yesterday but we will definitely take it. We are very happy. It’s a good start and now we’ll focus on a great race!”

76603414-a420-40f0-8c81-f4188ab9a430The result marks the second pole of the season for Action Express Racing and the first for Fittipaldi. Sebastien Bourdais, who joins Fittipaldi and Joao Barbosa in the No. 5 Corvette Daytona Prototype for the Petit Le Mans event, scored the pole for the team earlier this year at Sebring International Raceway.

Brian Frisselle was tabbed to qualify the No. 9 Action Express Racing Corvette Daytona Prototype and was looking forward to converting the strong pace the team had shown in practice into a strong starting spot for Saturday’s 10-hour race. Unfortunately, Frisselle was unable to get in a flying lap when he was caught out by a car stopped on track. As the No. 9 Corvette DP crested a hill, Frisselle tried to avoid the stopped car but the No. 9’s brakes locked up and the two cars made contact.

The No. 9, which is driven by Brian Frisselle, Burt Frisselle and Jon Fogarty, will be forced to start from the rear of the field and the driving trio is eager to move forward with a strong car on Saturday.

“We are in great position,” said Team Owner Bob Johnson. “I’m sorry to see what happened to the No. 9 car. We’re really happy with the No. 5 car obviously. We’re following our plan and doing what we came here to do!”

The Petit Le Mans will go green Saturday at 11:15 AM ET. IMSA.com will stream the event LIVE and FOX Sports 2 will pick up the race in progress beginning at 3:00 PM ET.

MRN Radio will also broadcast the 10-hour race in its entirety at www.mrn.com.

Wayne Taylor Racing Qualifying Report

17th Annual Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta

Date: Oct 3, 2014
Event: 17th Annual Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta (Round 11 of 11)
Series: Prototype division of the Tudor United SportsCar Championship
Location: Road Atlanta (2.54-mile, 12-turn road course)
Pole Winner: Christian Fittipaldi of Action Express Racing (1:14.508 at 122.725 mph – track record)
Wayne Taylor Racing: 2nd by Ricky Taylor (1:14.797 at 122.251 mph)

The No. 10 Konica Minolta Chevrolet Corvette Dallara Daytona Prototype for Wayne Taylor Racing will start Saturday’s Tudor United SportsCar Championship season finale, the 17th annual Petit Le Mans, from the outside of the front row after qualifying Friday at Road Atlanta.

Ricky Taylor, who is wrapping up his first full season co-driving with his younger brother Jordan Taylor, qualified on the front row for the second race in a row with a fast lap of 1 minute, 14.797 seconds at 122.251 mph around the 2.54-mile, 12-turn Road Atlanta circuit. It equaled his qualifying effort at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas two weeks ago as the team’s best of the season, and was good for second among 54 car-and-driver combinations set to take the green flag for Saturday’s 10-hour endurance marathon. Veteran Italian Max “The Ax” Angelelli is joining the Taylor brothers for this final round of the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup championship-within-a-championship as he has all season. The No. 10 Corvette DP trails the pole-winning No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP by just six points in the North American Endurance Cup. The No. 5 Corvette DP team will clinch the inaugural, season-long Tudor series championship simply by taking the green flag Saturday.

“We have the best of the DPs and I just didn’t put together a very good lap,” Ricky Taylor said. “So, I’m happy for the race, but I hate losing the pole like that, but I think we have a very good car and I’m just disappointed with myself about qualifying. Without the 42 car (OAK Racing Nissan LMP2 entry) out there (because of mechanical issues during qualifying), that was our chance for a pole. I just missed an opportunity because our car is very good. That’s all there is to it. For tomorrow, we have a very good car and have 10 hours to take advantage of it.”

The top-five qualifiers for Saturday’s Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta are:

1. Action Express Racing (No. 5 Corvette DP) with Christian Fittipaldi, Joao Barbosa and Sebastien Bourdais (1:14.508 at 122.725 mph – track record).

2. Wayne Taylor Racing (No. 10 Corvette DP) with Ricky Taylor, Jordan Taylor and Max Angelelli (1:14.797 at 122.251 mph).

3. Spirit of Daytona Racing (No. 90 Corvette DP) with Richard Westbrook, Michael Valiante and Mike Rockenfeller (1:14.920 at 122.050 mph).

4. Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates (No. 01 Ford Riley) with Memo Rojas, Scott Pruett and Scott Dixon (1:15.224 at 121.557 mph).

5. DeltaWing Racing Cars (No. 0 DeltaWing DWC13) with Andy Meyrick, Katherine Legge and Gabby Chavez (1:15.317 at 121.407 mph).

Race time is 11:15 a.m. EDT Saturday with FOX Sports 2 picking up the live television broadcast in progress at 3 p.m. Live streaming video will be available at IMSA.com beginning at 11 a.m. Live radio from the Motor Racing Network available on IMSA.com and MRNRadio.com, as well as select radio networks, begins at 11 a.m. Saturday’s race also will be rebroadcast in a two-hour package Sunday on the FOX network. Check local listings. 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.

Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian Set for Petit Le Mans Debut

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Atlanta, Ga. (1 October 2014) – Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian will be back in IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship action this weekend as the Columbus-based team heads south to Road Atlanta for the season-finale event.

Michael Shank Racing drivers John Pew and Ozz Negri will partner in the No. 60 Ford EcoBoost/Riley entry in the Prototype class. The duo made a front row start at Long Beach earlier this season and scored a dramatic second place finish at Road America last month. The team has actively developed the first-year Ford EcoBoost/Riley package in its first season of IMSA competition and is looking to put the lessons learned this season to good use in the finale.

The car will not only carry some well-earned know-how on the inside but it will also carry the faces of hundreds of Michael Shank Racing fans on the outside as the car sports a special livery for the 14th running of the Petit Le Mans. The “Shank Fan Shots Car” is just the latest one-off livery that the team has created in partnership with AERO Paints as Shank looks to pay tribute to the legions of fans that have supported the squad through all the years.

Despite that long history, over a decade of racing at the top Prototype ranks, the race weekend marks the first ever Petit Le Mans appearance for the team. The team has experience at the track, having notched a fourth place finish in its first-ever run on the 2.54-mile natural terrain circuit outside of Atlanta. But with an entirely different set of technical regulations as well as a new combination with the EcoBoost power, there will be a lot to learn quickly for the team as it prepares to take on the blue riband event.

Fortunately, the driver squad will be a big part of that progress, as both Pew and Negri have experience on the track, with Negri also having raced in the 2013 Petit Le Mans to close out the American Le Mans Series era. Teaming in a LMPC, Negri led the 2013 race overall before coming home in second place in challenging mixed conditions.

The effort will not only feature an experienced and speedy driver pairing, a distinctive one-off livery, and the culmination of a year’s worth of progress, but it will also be a demonstration of the incredible physical preparation from the drivers as Pew and Negri prepare to be the only 2-driver line up in the Prototype ranks through the 10-hour endurance challenge.

“I’m hoping we can come out of this race with a big finish,” said Negri. “It will be very challenging with all the traffic but I’m excited about it. Having just two drivers I think will be an advantage for us. Of course it will be tough, but this is exactly what John and I train so hard to be prepared to do and I can’t think of a better partner for this. We’ve had some ups and downs this year and some bad luck but we know that if things fall our way, we are ready to make the most of the opportunity.”

With 10 hours between green and checkered flags, the 54-car field will be a non-stop blur of passing as four classes claw for track position on the the 2.54-mile circuit.

“I know it is going to be very busy, every lap,” said Pew. “But you just have to stay focused on the bigger goal for the race and be as patient as possible in traffic. Which of course for all the drivers is its own big challenge! I think that if we can stay out of trouble through the day and keep our noses clean, hopefully we can make the most of the cooler temperatures at night with the EcoBoost and end the season on a really high note.”

The most recent round at the Circuit of the Americas saw a strong outing lose momentum with some bad luck timing on a mid-race yellow flag. But the team is looking to convert the same strong preparation and hard work into a big result to close out the weekend.

“It is better that it is them than me doing it!” joked team owner Mike Shank on the endurance run ahead for Pew and Negri. “John and Ozz are going to be busy out there. This has been a long year for the guys, but there would be nothing better than to come out of here with a trophy. This is a big race and we are up for it. We’ve prepared specifically for this race for a long time and we know that it will be a quick pace, but we all have to make good decisions for 10 hours.”

Four practice sessions will be held ahead of a Friday evening qualifying session which begins at 5:25 PM ET. The Petit Le Mans will go green at 11:15 AM ET on Saturday. LIVE coverage will be carried via video streaming on IMSA.com with FOX Sports 2 to broadcast the race in progress at 3:00 PM ET.

Live timing and scoring is available throughout the weekend at www.imsa.com.