IMSA: Action Express Leads Road America Winners

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Action Express Racing’s pair of Christian Fittipaldi and Joao Barbosa emerged victorious in Sunday’s Continental Tire Road Race Showcase, the ninth round for Prototypes, eighth for GT Le Mans/ GT Daytona and seventh for Prototype Challenge in the 2014 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship season.

Barbosa pitted on Lap 38 along with the No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Ford EcoBoost Riley, No. 1 Extreme Speed Motorsports HPD ARX-03b and No. 42 OAK Racing Morgan Nissan; with an hour and one minute remaining in the two-hour, 45-minute race, this set them up to run to the finish.

The No. 1 car, one of the P2-spec cars, was unable to do anything about the horsepower of the Daytona Prototype-spec cars this race, and fell from the lead to the ultimate third place finish behind the winning No. 5 Corvette DP and Shank’s No. 60.

The win is the third this year, second consecutive, for Action Express; Shank’s pair of Ozz Negri and John Pew have both their first podium and best result of 2014. Scott Sharp and polesitter Ryan Dalziel made it onto the podium for the second time this season (Sebring, finished second).

Starworks Motorsport held off 8Star Motorsports to win in PC, with Renger van der Zande and Mirco Schultis victorious for the second time this season (Monterey, May). Van der Zande emerged ahead of Sean Rayhall on the final pit stop sequence and Rayhall, who co-drove with Luis Diaz, was resigned to a runner-up finish.

Risi Competizione (GTLM) and Turner Motorsport (GTD) took respective victories in the GT ranks, and although both the No. 62 Ferrari F458 Italia of Giancarlo Fisichella and Pierre Kaffer and No. 94 Turner BMW Z4 GT3 of Dane Cameron and Markus Palttala made it look easy, neither had it that way.

The six cautions during the two-hour, 45-minute race interrupted the flow pretty heavily. Despite the cautions – which seemed to take out a litany of cars – the race was still able to at least end under green.

RESULTS

Michael Andretti looking forward to new Australian Supercars venture

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If it seems like Michael Andretti is out to conquer the world, he is – kind of.

The former IndyCar star turned prolific team owner has won three of the last four Indianapolis 500s and five overall, second only to Roger Penske’s 16 Indy 500 triumphs.

Along the way, in addition to expanding his own IndyCar and Indy Lights operation, the son of Mario Andretti and the primary shareholder of Andretti Autosport has also branched out into Global RallyCross and Formula E racing in recent years.

And now, Andretti has further expanded his brand internationally, following Penske to the world down under — as in the world of Australian V8 Supercars.

Andretti has teamed with Supercars team owner Ryan Walkinshaw, along with veteran motorsports marketer and executive director of McLaren Technology Group and United Autosports owner and chairman, Zak Brown.

Together, the three have formed Walkinshaw Andretti United, based in suburban Melbourne, Australia. The new team kicks off the new season with the Adelaide 500 from March 1-4.

“It’s just extending our brand and putting it out there,” Andretti told NBC Sports. “The Supercars are such a great series.

“It all started with Zach Brown calling me and said ‘You have to talk to Ryan Walkinshaw. He’s got something interesting to talk to you about.’

“We talked and literally in like a half-hour, we said, ‘Let’s figure out how we’re going to make this work.’ And then Zack was like, ‘Hey, what about me?’ And then Zack came in as a partner and it’s cool now that we have the Walkinshaw Andretti United team.

“I’m really excited about that program, the guys at the shop are excited about it, we’ve been doing a lot of things to try and help it because it’s such a cool series and the cars are so cool.

“I went down there to Bathurst, which was to me one of the coolest tracks in the world. I wish I could have driven it, I really do. It looks like a blast.

“It’s amazing how big that series is when you go down there. It’s one of the biggest sports in Australia. It was just a great opportunity for us to extend our portfolio.”

Admittedly, Andretti had some extra incentive to want to get involved in the Supercars world: Penske joined forces with legendary Dick Johnson Racing in September 2014.

The organization came together quickly and the rebranded DJR Team Penske went on to win the 2017 V8 Supercars championship.

“Roger was down there the last few years,” Andretti said, adding that fact as incentive to get his own organization into the series. “So it’s cool to go race head-to-head with Roger. That was also in the back of our minds.”

This is no start-up venture for Andretti. The roots of the new venture began in 1990 as the Holden Racing Team, which went on to become one of the most successful organizations in Australian V8 Supercar racing, having won the drivers’ championship six times and the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship’s top race, the Bathurst 1000 (essentially Australia’s version of the Indy 500), seven times.

Last season, Holden Racing team morphed into Triple Eight Race Engineering and was renamed Mobil 1 HSV Racing.

And now the company has been renamed once again for the 2018 campaign under the Walkinshaw Andretti United banner.

The team will be composed of two Holden ZB Commodores with drivers James Courtney and Scott Pye, as well as a Porsche 911 GT3-R in the Australian GT championship.

What’s next for Andretti’s motorsports portfolio? Right now, it’s pretty full, but you can bet running for championships from Australia (Supercars) to globally (GRC) to Indianapolis (Indy 500) to the U.S. (Verizon IndyCar Series) are at the top of this year’s list.