Mustang Sampling and Whelen Engineering/Team Fox Return as Partners
Action Express Racing announced today that the team will field a pair of Cadillac DPi-V.R race cars in the Prototype class of the 2017 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship starting with the season-opening Rolex 24 at Daytona, Jan. 28-29, 2017.
The team will return to the top-level of IMSA competition in the Prototype class fielding two Daytona Prototype international (DPi) entries with Cadillac. ECR, which has worked together with Action Express for the past five years, will again provide engines to the organization. For the past five years (2012 to 2016), Action Express utilized Corvette power and the Coyote chassis in the IMSA Prototype class.
“We’re excited about our relationship as a Cadillac partner team and utilizing the Cadillac DPi-V.R in competition during the upcoming season,” said Action Express team manager Gary Nelson. “We’re also looking forward to working together with our new chassis partner Dallara, as well as continuing our relationship with ECR engines. Obviously, there’s plenty of work for us to do to prepare for the start of the 2017 season and we’ve been extremely busy getting familiar with our new race cars.”
The team’s championship-winning 2016 driver lineup – featuring Joao Barbosa, Dane Cameron, Eric Curran and Christian Fittipaldi – will return to the team for the upcoming campaign. In addition, the team will continue its relationship with partners Whelen Engineering and Mustang Sampling.
“We’re delighted to continue our partnership with Mustang Sampling and Whelen Engineering/Team Fox,” said Action Express team Principal Bob Johnson. “In 2015, both Mustang Sampling and Whelen joined Action Express as partners with the team. Together we’ve accomplished much over the past two years and we look forward to continuing that success in the future as a Cadillac partner team and with our returning championship-winning drivers.”
In 2017, Cameron and Curran will share time behind the steering wheel of the No. 31 Whelen Engineering/Team Fox Cadillac DPi-V.R, and Barbosa and Fittipaldi will be the drivers of the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi-V.R.
“In the past, we’ve had a lot of success with our simple strategy of not changing things unless absolutely necessary,” Nelson explained. “With IMSA’s introduction of the new Daytona Prototype international (DPi) in the Prototype class, it was necessary for us to make changes for the upcoming season. While we have a lot to learn, we’re also looking forward to the challenge of developing a reliable and competitive new race car.”
In 2016, co-drivers Cameron and Curran earned the WeatherTech Series driver’s championship in the Prototype class in the No. 31 entry, and Barbosa and Fittipaldi guided the No. 5 race car to the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup in the Prototype class. Fittipaldi also earned the TOTAL Pole Award for most fast qualifying times in the Prototype class.
It marked the third consecutive driver’s championship for Action Express in the IMSA Prototype class. In addition to winning the 2016 driver’s championship with Cameron and Curran, in 2014 and 2015 Barbosa and Fittipaldi earned the driver’s title. In each of the past three years (2014 to 2016), Barbosa and Fittipaldi have also collected the North American Endurance Cup in the Prototype class.
En route to the 2016 driver’s title, Cameron and Curran had a pair of wins during the season – finishing first at Wisconsin’s Road America (Aug. 7) and Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (July 10). Along with the two wins, the duo recorded runner-up results at Circuit of the Americas in Texas (Sept. 18), New York’s Watkins Glen International (July 3) and Florida’s Sebring International Raceway (March 19).
Barbosa and Fittipaldi, who ended the year second in the driver’s championship, picked up a win at Watkins Glen International, as well as runner-up results at Road America and Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, along with the street courses in Belle Isle, Mich. (June 4) and Long Beach, Calif. (June 4).
“We wanted to get to the race track and start testing our Cadillac DPi-V.R as soon as we could, and we already have a couple of tests under our belt,” said Nelson. “Our early testing is showing some great results. We’ve learned a lot about a high down force race car – a car that instantly grabs the track. Our drivers are learning about the new car and whether they have to make any adjustments to their driving style to accommodate the new race car. In addition, our engineering staff is also learning about the new car and how to best tune the car.”
Since Action Express Racing was formed in 2010 the team has registered 16 wins in sports car competition, including a pair of wins in the 24 Hours of Daytona (2010 and 2014), a victory in the 12 Hours of Sebring (2015) and a first-place finish in the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta (2015). In addition, the team has collected checkered flags at a number of historic race tracks, including Indianapolis Motor Speedway (2014), Road America (2014, 2015 and 2016) and Watkins Glen International (2012, 2013 and 2016).
The 2017 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season will feature 10 races, including endurance races at Daytona International Speedway (Jan. 28-29), Sebring (Fla.) International Raceway (March 18), New York’s Watkins Glen International (July 2) and Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta (Oct.7).