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April 08, 2014 | By IMSA
After showing strength in both long-distance races that opened the season, Action Express Racing will now focus on the sprint race format as the team returns to IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar competition as the championship leaders for the Tequila Patron Sports Car Showcase this weekend. The race is held as part of the big 40th running of IndyCar’s Long Beach Grand Prix event.
Joao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi have opened the 2014 championship strongly with a victory in the Rolex 24 At Daytona and a third place result in the 12 Hours of Sebring. The duo, who both have previous experience at the historic 1.968-mile California street circuit, look to carry that positive momentum into Saturday’s 100-minute sprint race.
Fittipaldi spent seven years racing at Long Beach in the open-wheel ranks and has amassed over 800-miles of experience at the street course. It’s been over 15 years since Barbosa last visited the track when he placed fourth driving in the Toyota Atlantic championship during his first year of racing in the United States in 1997.
“At Long Beach, you just have to make sure that the walls don’t jump out at you and if the walls don’t jump in front of the car I think we will be fine!” joked Fittipaldi. “Long Beach is one of those places that is a little bit tricky – you just have to pay a little bit more attention and get into a rhythm. It’s a typical street course circuit in that the track always keeps getting better, better, and better so you’re probably going to set your fastest lap right at the very end of qualifying. For the race, we’ll just go out there and do our very best and take care of the car and I’m pretty sure we’re going to be strong again.”
“The track configuration has changed since I last raced there, so I'm curious to see what I will find when I get to Long Beach,” said Barbosa. “I had a good race there, finishing in fourth place but our goal at Action Express is more than that. As the championship leaders we would like to leave Long Beach in the same position! We will see how it goes because Long Beach is a track that should suit the LMP2 cars which could make it more of a challenge. We saw that they were very quick at Sebring, but we’ll just take one thing at a time and we’ll go to Long Beach with the same goal which is to get the most points and go for the win.”
The driving pair along with the Action Express team target a third consecutive podium finish on Saturday as the group aims to extend its championship lead with another positive result.
“I grew up in Southern California and over the years, when I lived there, was fortunate to have visited the winners circle at most of the West Coast tracks,” said Team Manager Gary Nelson.
“Ascot, Ontario and Riverside were among my favorites. They are gone now. The Long Beach track was not around in those days but now I like to think of it and Fontana as my home tracks. I have many friends and relatives in the area and would like them to see firsthand what a great team Action Express is.”
The No. 9 Action Express Racing Corvette DP, which was driven at Sebring by Burt and Brian Frisselle and Jon Fogarty is expected to return to race duty for the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen in June for the third round of the North American Endurance Cup. The team will look to extend its record of success at the track having won there in 2012 & 2013.
Action Express Racing kicks off the Long Beach weekend festivities with the 3rd annual Roar in the Shore event on Wednesday, April 9 from 5:00 PM – 8:00 PM (PST). The No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette Daytona Prototype will be on display and Barbosa and Fittipaldi will also be on hand and will take part in an autograph session from 6:30 PM – 7:00 PM (PST.
Fittipaldi will chat with KLAC 570 AM Radio prior to the event at 4:45 PM (PST).
On track action begins Friday at 7:40 AM (PST) with a two-hour practice session.
The 100-minute Tequila Patron Sports Car Showcase is set to go green on Saturday at 3:10 PM (PST) and will be televised live on FOX Sports 1.
Story courtesy of IMSA.com