ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – Action Express Racing didn’t have the pace, but did have the strategic smarts to win its third straight IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race – both for the 2016 season and at Road America.
The No. 31 Whelen Engineering/Team Fox Corvette DP of Dane Cameron and Eric Curran started only fifth but leapfrogged the polesitting No. 55 Mazda Prototype (Jonathan Bomarito and Tristan Nunez) on pit strategy.
On track, Cameron turned in an impressive pass on Jordan Taylor during the race, coming out of Turn 3 on Lap 44, using Jeroen Bleekemolen’s No. 33 Riley Motorsports Dodge Viper GT3-R as a pick and then slingshotting under Taylor on the inside. It was the net lead on track before the final pit stop sequence.
Action Express has also secured its third straight 1-2 finish this season, with the No. 31 car ahead of the No. 5 Mustang Sampling-backed entry of Christian Fittipaldi and Joao Barbosa.
This brings the No. 31 pair within a point of the No. 5 pair in the championship, 253 to 252, with just two races remaining.
The No. 5 car won at Watkins Glen while the No. 31 car won last time out at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. That’s the same result as has happened at Road America the last two years; the No. 5 car won in 2014 and the No. 31 car won last year.
Mazda, which had an unquestioned pace advantage throughout the weekend, saw a near certain first win go away courtesy of a strategic blunder – ultimately decided when the rest of the Prototype field pitted on Lap 28 and the No. 55 car didn’t from the lead.
That left the No. 55 car to pit under green at the one hour and 11 minute mark and saw its gap go from leading by 25 seconds to trailing by 39, following the minute-plus pit stop delta, and again to pit under green with 36 minutes remaining after the leaders had already pitted for the final time.
It slotted the No. 55 car back to fifth place overall and in class, behind the two Action Express Corvettes, Taylor and brother Ricky in the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette DP, and the No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Ligier JS P2 Honda of Ozz Negri and John Pew.
Other class winners included Tom Kimber-Smith and Robert Alon in the No. 52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports Oreca FLM09 (PC), Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner in the No. 4 Corvette C7.R (GTLM) and Jeroen Bleekemolen and Ben Keating in the No. 33 Riley Motorsports Dodge Viper GT3-R (GTD).
More to come from the other classes here in a minute, following a crazy finish in the GT ranks.