Photo courtesy of IMSA

Action Express adds Albuquerque, Nasr to full-time roles in 2018

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Three-time defending IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Prototype champions Action Express Racing has evolved its lineups for the 2018 season, with two new full-time drivers.

In the wake of Dane Cameron’s departure to Team Penske’s new Acura ARX-05 Daytona Prototype international (DPi) program, the team adds Brazilian Felipe Nasr in his stead.

Nasr will race in North America full-time following at least a month of exploring his options. He was a guest of Helio Castroneves at the Watkins Glen International Verizon IndyCar Series race.

He’ll join Eric Curran in the team’s No. 31 Whelen Engineering Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R, the team joined by Mike Conway in the Rolex 24 at Daytona, Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring and Motul Petit Le Mans. The Sunoco Challenge winner traditionally joins the lineup as a fourth driver in Daytona; Nasr was that Sunoco Challenge to earn the opportunity to race in the 2012 Rolex 24 At Daytona and did so with Michael Shank Racing, before Nasr returned to the event with Action Express Racing in 2013.

Meanwhile Christian Fittipaldi has been phased out of a full-time seat in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac, moved into the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup races as third driver with Filipe Albuquerque moving into a full-time role next year. The rapid Portuguese driver was installed as the closing driver for Action Express’ win pursuit at Daytona but lost the win to Ricky Taylor in somewhat controversial fashion. As it is, Albuquerque’s enjoyed a busy year racing three of the four LMP2 spec chassis between IMSA, the FIA World Endurance Championship and European Le Mans Series, in the Dallara P217 (base chassis for the Cadillac DPi), the Oreca 07 and the Ligier JS P217.

New team performance coordinator Tim Keene is another key addition, having left his post at Michael Shank Racing as that team evolves from an Acura factory-backed effort to a privateer one next season. Keene has been in Prototype for quite a while, working with both DeltaWing Racing Cars and Chip Ganassi Racing.

“As a team, the 2017 IMSA season has been a solid one, but we are all working hard to make 2018 an even better year,” said Action Express Racing Team Manager Gary Nelson. “We are happy to have Eric (Curran) return in the Whelen Engineering Cadillac and to have Felipe (Nasr) come back to race with us for the full season.

“We have had the same driver line up for the Mustang Sampling Cadillac for the last two years, and that consistency will be an advantage. Christian (Fittipaldi), Filipe (Albuquerque) and Joao (Barbosa) have all been racing with us but we are just changing the roles that each will have next year. Adding Tim (Keene) to the 31 side is also something that we are excited about and we are looking forward to his contributions to our team effort here at Action Express Racing.”

Takuma Sato’s likeness revealed on Borg-Warner Trophy (PHOTOS)

Photos; Walt Kuhn
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INDIANAPOLIS – Rather than the traditional December unveil, this year’s reveal newest likeness added to the Borg-Warner Trophy came Tuesday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum.

Takuma Sato got to see the result of the sculpting done by William Behrends and then turned from wax, clay and ceramic into sterling silver on Tuesday evening, as the winner of the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil saw his face revealed on the trophy.

Sato took the No. 26 Ruoff Home Mortgage Honda for Andretti Autosport to the win in thrilling fashion this year over Helio Castroneves, denying the Brazilian his fourth Indianapolis 500 victory in the process. It atoned for his near-miss in 2012, driving for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, the team he’ll return to in 2018.

It’s been a whirlwind last week-plus for Sato, doing the podium interviews at the Japanese Grand Prix, reflecting on his Indianapolis 500 triumph, then sharing the victory spoils with another Japanese pilot in Yoshihide Muroya, who won the Red Bull Air Race World Championship at Indianapolis this weekend.

Photos of Sato’s face on the most unique trophy in sports are below. This post will be updated following tonight’s full unveil. (All photos: Walt Kuhn)