The Racing Capital
of the World
July 25, 2014 | By Matt Cleary
The calculators in the Action Express Racing pit got nearly as much action as the race cars on Friday night as the team No. 5 Corvette DP was able to go the distance on fuel on just two pit stops and emerge with the team's first-ever Brickyard Grand Prix victory in the IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship debut at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
With four classes and 49 cars in competition, the race made for a non-stop passing festival through the full two-hour, 45-minute race distance to open the Kroger Super Weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Action Express Racing drivers Joao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi added a second big feather to their cap for 2014 after having opened the season with a victory in the Rolex 24 At Daytona with the victory in the Brickyard Grand Prix to continue to build their IMSA championship momentum.
Fittipaldi opened the race from behind the wheel and emerged from a wild start to muscle his way into the lead, which he held for the opening 24 laps.
"It was definitely a smart, exciting race,” said Fittipaldi, who scored a runner-up finish in his rookie Indianapolis 500 outing in 1995. “Action Express gave me a very, very good car. We had the consistency; we had the speed throughout the race. Just had to keep it cool at the beginning of the race for my stint. Had to push but couldn't afford to make any mistakes. We are really, really happy. Took a monkey off of our back, like we were knocking at the door a couple of times. I don't know what to say. It is fantastic And I think we are unofficially back in P1 in the points right now. It couldn't have been better."
Barbosa took over with over two hours of the race yet to go, but only made just one more pit stop as he was constantly checking with the team on the radio to make sure that the Brazilian had all the fuel he needed to get to the finish.
"I was saving fuel the whole time once I got in the car,” Barbosa said. “We knew that would be the difference between one less pit stop at the end. That proved to be just a perfect decision. I was struggling a little bit in the beginning. It was hard to keep the other cars behind me. I was able to keep a good pace. The Corvette DP was awesome. Action Express did an excellent strategy, excellent pit stops. and gave me the lead at the end for the last hours. I was able to manage the fuel consumption, the traffic, avoid mistakes and bring it home. I am very proud of winning at Indy with such a great bunch of guys at Action Express. It is awesome to win here. Such a great place with such great history. To win Daytona and Indy in the same year - what an unbelievable achievement and feeling."
The Action Express drivers crossed the line nearly 50 seconds ahead of the second place car of Scott Pruett and Sage Karam, who only got the call to race a few days ahead of the event as he was called in to replace an injured Memo Rojas. The young Pennsylvanian had a break-out drive on Friday, moving from deep on the grid to lead the race before turning the car over to his Ganassi teammate Scott Pruett. The race was the second of the year at the Speedway for Karam, who also impressed in his Verizon IndyCar Series debut in the Indianapolis 500.
Another 2014 Indianapolis 500 race starter had a big day as Jack Hawksworth, who races for Bryan Herta in Verizon IndyCar Series competition, scored a victory in Prototype Challenge competition along with his co-driver Chris Cumming.
“It was a lot of fun,” said Hawksworth. “The last 45 minutes were some of the most fun I’ve had in a race car, to be honest. I had a great battle with Bruno (Junquiera), fighting through the traffic and whatnot. I enjoyed every minute of it. It’s a great circuit and I enjoyed it when I raced here in Indycar and to finally get a win here, it feels awesome. A big congrats to Chris. Great job in the first stint. We had a great car. Happy day. We led the majority of the Grand Prix here, but the 500 we weren’t really that strong. Nevertheless it’s nice for me to come away and do a race in another championship and do so well. It was a good event, it was a confidence booster for me.”
It was a history making day as well for the Dodge Vipers as American driver Jonathan Bomarito and his Canadian co-driver Kuno Wittmer were able to bring the snarling V-10 machine and its iconic livery a new benchmark of success with a GTLM victory in the team's first-ever race at the Speedway.
“Three podiums in a row. It doesn’t get any better than this right now. We’re all on cloud nine right now,” Bomarito said. “We’re going to live it up tonight. My hat’s off to the whole crew because they did an amazing job tonight. It’s not really scratched in a tough race like this and that’s why we ended up in the front.”
Adding to the international flair was the GTD class victory for the Ferrari of Jeff Westphal and Alessandro Balzan, who brought home the final checkered flag of the day.
“First and foremost thank you to the team. For me, the 60th anniversary of Ferrari in North America. We came off a rough race in Mosport and everybody in the team did a fantastic job. We pushed all the way to the last minute. We tried to make our way up the field when we could. It’s probably one of the more historic wins I've had in my career. It’s a really, really nice feeling to win and kiss the bricks.”