Thursday March 10, 2011
HOMESTEAD, FL: It was no surprise coming into the Grand Prix of Miami at Homestead-Miami Speedway that the Action Express Racing team was a favorite to land on the podium. What was a surprise, however, was how they eventually did it. At separate points in the race both of the team’s Porsche-powered Rileys fell a lap down, but on a hot and grueling day where tire conservation and pit strategy was the key, the No. 5 driven by David Donohue and Darren Law earned it’s first podium of the season, finishing second, while the No. 9 rounded out the top 5, finishing fifth.
The day started off slowly for the No. 5 team when they opted to save a set of tires for later in the race and left Donohue on the same set for the race’s first hour-and-a-half at a pace that saw GT cars catching the faster DP by the end of the run. The strategy eventually paid off and after finally pitting for tires after falling a lap down, the team rebounded using fresh tires to propel them up into the top 3, and eventually second.
“It was the strategy that really worked for us,” admitted Law, who finished the race in the No. 5. “It feels great coming out of here where we are in points, but all of the credit goes to David (Donohue) running on those old tires in the first stint and of course the team on having a great strategy.”
“Coming into this race we didn’t have that high of hopes because even though we ran well here last year we really struggled in the first practice,” added Donohue. “We just kept working at it not knowing where we were, but we were able to save a set of tires at the end there and have a good finish. It was a good result for us, we really needed to recover from Daytona.”
The problems for the No. 9 were not part of the plan like they were on the No. 5. During the team’s final driver change with a little over one hour remaining in the race, a pit road error resulted in driver Joao Barbosa running over the team’s air hose and earning a 30-second penalty. The ill-timed penalty dropped the team from the top 5 to a lap down in 10th.
“Unfortunately we got caught with that penalty and lost a lap, but we were able to come back, make up the lap and even a few more positions,” said Barbosa. “We struggled a little bit early, but we could run with anybody out there. The results are starting to show and hopefully we can keep fighting for podium positions.”
The pair of top 5s puts Action Express in a great position in the standings after two races. After the No. 9 team’s third-place podium in the Rolex 24 and top 5 in Miami they move up to second in points in a tie with SunTrust Racing, trailing only Chip Ganassi Racing. The No. 5 team succeeded in digging out of a hole following a ninth-place finish at Daytona with its first podium of the season and moved to fourth in the standings.
Both teams have reached the podium now in just two races after failing to reach the podium following its Rolex 24 win one year ago, something that team manager Gary Nelson says shows just how much the team has grown over the offseason.
“The biggest disappointment this weekend was the black flag because it was such a minor slip on our part. We felt like both cars were competitive, but we have a little more work to do to fight for first place,” he said. “We’re very happy with the progress of the team, but when you fight for the win and finish second, it just makes you that much hungrier.”
Action Express Racing returns to the track on April 9 as the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series heads north to Birmingham, AL and Barber Motorsports Park.
This report was provided by an outside PR source and posted by Garrett Horton.
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