Action Express Racing started 2013 with a strong showing at the Rolex 24 at Daytona, with both of its Corvette DPs running in the lead before finishing in the top-ten.
The #9 car, driven by Joao Barbosa, Burt Frisselle and Mike Rockenfeller completed 708 laps on its way to a fourth place finish, battling for the win in the final minutes of the race. A collision whilst battling for third place resulted in the #9 being called in to the pits for a penalty, throwing away any chance of a podium finish.
“Before the race we weren’t expecting too much because the straight line speed we had compared to the BMWs was just not enough at all.” commented Rockenfeller. “So we knew it was going to be tough and we were aiming for a podium at least. I think the whole race we did a fantastic job. My two teammates did awesome – they were running trouble-free really, really fast so it was great to be with them. The team did really, really well. We will be back one day and hopefully we can win again.”
The sister #5 car, driven by Christian Fittipaldi, Brian Frisselle, Nelson Piquet, Jr and Felipe Nasr completed the race in eighth place after a pit lane exit collision caused suspension damage early on Sunday morning. Pit crew members from both the #5 and the #9 worked on the damage, but any hope of a top-five finish had been lost with the setback.
“We were on target up until about 2-3 in the morning. Exactly what we had planned for.” said Fittipaldi “Unfortunately we had a small off coming out of the pits and that broke our rear suspension and we lost 22 laps. At that point it was the end of the race for us. We [the No. 9 & No. 5] were running together all the time and we were running together as planned until we had this little incident.”
“I was so proud of the Action Express team,” said Team Manager Gary Nelson. “The guys, all of our drivers, all of our crew, all of our engineering, our managers, everybody did an outstanding job today. Unfortunately we didn’t bring it home like we thought we were going to. Late in the race, a couple of unfortunate things happened, and we ended up fourth with the No. 9 car, and eighth with the No. 5. We’ll come back next time. We know we’re strong, we know we did everything that we could do, but it just wasn’t our day.”
“The circumstances today proved exactly what we’re building on – 2 cars, 1 team,” added Team Owner Bob Johnson. “These guys all jumped in working together to get the 5 back out as soon as possible after the damage this morning. We know to expect adversity in a 24 hour race and it is how you react that makes a championship team. Our team was as well prepared and executed throughout the race as well as any, resulting in both cars finishing in good position for points. While it didn’t turn out as we had planned, I am very pleased and proud of this team and it’s a great start for the season. Just watch what we do next.”
Action Express Racing will next take to the track at the Circuit of the Americas for the start of the 2013 Rolex Sports Car Series on March 2nd.