NOTES & QUOTES
LAST YEAR HERE: One year ago, the Action Express Racing team recorded a pair of top-five finishes in the six hour endurance test at the Watkins Glen International 3.4-mile, 11-turn permanent road course. The No. 5 entry of Joao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi started from the pole and finished third. Teammates Dane Cameron and Eric Curran finished fourth in class and eighth overall.
TEAM IN 2016: This year, the Action Express Racing lineup at Watkins Glen will be the same as it was one year ago. Barbosa and Fittipaldi will team up in the No. 5 entry, while Cameron and Curran will be back behind the wheel of the No. 31 race car. Driver Felipe Albuquerque will also be with the team this weekend.
PAST PERFORMANCE: In 2013, Barbosa and Fittipaldi captured the checkered flag driving the No. 5 Action Express Racing prototype in the six hour endurance race at Watkins Glen. They started fourth, completed 171 laps and led a total of 30 circuits, including the final nine laps, en route to the checkered flag.
POINTS PLACE: Barbosa and Fittipaldi are currently tied for first in the 2016 IMSA WeatherTech Prototype point standings with 151 points. Cameron and Curran sit second in the standings with 147 points. In the IMSA Patron North America Endurance Cup point standings, Barbosa and Fittipaldi share the lead in the standings with 26 points.
PATRIOTIC PROTOTYPES: Both Action Express Racing entries – the No. 5 and the No. 31 – will have unique patriotic designs for the Fourth of July race weekend at Watkins Glen. The No. 31 Whelen Corvette DP will feature an American flag on the roof of the race car and a blue pinstripe along the side of the car. The No. 5 Mustang Sampling/Hazlitt’s Cider Tree Corvette DP will have an American flag on each side of the car. Both race cars will also feature the words ‘Manufactured in America’ on the rear deck spoiler.
TEST TIME: Both Action Express race cars – and all four drivers – tested the new Watkins Glen International surface in late May during a two-day test at the track in upstate New York. “We’ve had a lot of success in previous six hour events at Watkins Glen, so on one hand we didn’t want to see anything change,” says Action Express team manager Gary Nelson. “On the other hand, we knew the surface was in need of a repave. We were able to gather plenty of data over the two days and we’re really looking forward to the race.”
HERE ARE THE HIGHLIGHTS: Since Action Express Racing was formed in 2010, the team has captured back-to-back IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championships (2014 and 2015), as well as consecutive Patron North America Endurance Cup championships (2014 and 2015). Last year, the team collected four wins during the season (Sebring, Detroit, Road America and Road Atlanta) and the team has 13 career victories.
JOINING THE TEAM: This weekend at Watkins Glen, Hazlitt’s 1852 Vineyards will be partnering with the Action Express Racing No. 5 entry. Hazlitt’s, the producers of Cider Tree hard ciders, are located in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York near the Watkins Glen track. This marks the second time that Hazlitt’s has partnered together with Action Express.
PARTY FOR MARTY: Action Express Racing and Hazlitt’s Cider Tree will be hosting a ‘Party for Marty’ at Watkins Glen to benefit Team Fox — the grassroots community fundraising program to benefit The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research — on Thurs., June 30, from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. (ET). The Party for Marty will feature a silent auction and driver appearances, and take place in the Cider Tree Suite at the Watkins Glen track (located across from the Continental Tire hospitality area and next to the ‘Corvette Corral.’) An online auction (www.FundtheFox.com) is also taking place in conjunction with the event.
Joao Barbosa, No. 5 Mustang Sampling/Hazlitt’s Cider Tree Corvette DP, Action Express Racing
How do you feel heading to Watkins Glen this weekend?
“I feel very strongly that we have a great package and we can win the race. We have done it before — and we have a great team that can do it again. Personally, it would feel great to start the second part of the season with a win and defend our 2015 title in the best possible way. I feel like we have a big target on our back after winning the last two championships, but I feel comfortable with that and very prepared to defend our title.”
Does the team have a strategy to earn Endurance Cup points?
“All the races are important because the points system makes the championship very close until the end, so it’s important to score as many points as possible in every part of the race. Not only is the final result important, but also it’s important for drivers and teams to strategize around this.”
Christian Fittipaldi, No. 5 Mustang Sampling/Hazlitt’s Cider Tree Corvette DP, Action Express Racing
What’s the goal heading into Watkins Glen?
“Our goal is always to race for wins. We don’t show up to the track with a plan to just get points. It’s too early in the season to just focus on getting points. As a race team, we plan and prepare to win. When your focus is to win the race you make smart choices out on the track, and the points and the championship will fall into place.”
How much do you think about the Endurance Cup title?
“As drivers we focus on winning the race, but we were able to get segment wins at Daytona and Sebring because we led a good portion of both races. When you focus on winning the race and you make smart decisions out on the track, the points and the championship fall into place.”
Dane Cameron, No. 31 Whelen Corvette DP, Action Express Racing
Are you looking forward to returning to Watkins Glen?
“Watkins Glen is somewhere that every driver looks forward to each year. It’s a lot of fun for the fans and it sure is extra special now with the new repave. We had a great test there. I’d like to commend Watkins Glen on the job they did repaving the track — it’s phenomenal. They did a great job. We’re definitely looking forward to it and looking to get back into the championship chase after losing some points in Detroit. Watkins Glen will be a chance for us to rebound and close the point gap.”
Is Watkins Glen much different following the track repave?
“It’s quite a lot different now. It’s still the same place, but it’s almost a totally different animal now. We’re so much quicker than we’ve been the last few years — which is great fun from the driver’s seat. Watkins Glen used to be lined with concrete patches on the driving line so that used to dictate a lot of what you had to do set-up wise, and how you drove the car around the track. Now the concrete patches are all gone so the track is a lot more consistent and a lot faster. I think you have a little bit more freedom to move the car around and do some different things.”