Eric Curran had the controls of the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac for the start of the 100-minute street fight on Detroit’s Belle Isle. With strong team strategy and fast driving by Curran and teammate Felipe Nasr they were able to come up through the field from their sixth place starting position and win. The secret was not changing tires on the red 31 Cadillac to gain track position.
“A big shout out to the Action Express, Cadillac, and GM guys who helped us get this win,” Curran said. “This is the place to be, and the place to win in our Whelen Cadillac. Hats off to the engineering team who took a not so perfect weekend and turned it around. The team did an awesome job with the car. This is my second win in the last number of years and if you are going to win a race, this is the best place to win one. It feels so satisfying to have our first win of the year. It is also a special win as it is Sonny Whelen’s birthday from Whelen. Felipe Nasr did a killer job and put it together perfectly. Again, hats off to all the guys.”
“It was a tough race but I will take it,” Nasr said. “Eric and the entire Action Express Racing team did a great job. After our first practice, we ended up hurting the back of the car. The guys put the car back together and we had an amazing qualifying. The race itself was all about getting the right calls and we took the Continental tires to the very end, which they hang on amazingly so I was able to drive the car fast until the end. We didn’t have a great start to the weekend but here we are and I couldn’t have asked for a better day to be honest. I am super happy!”
“My tires were wearing down toward the end,” Nasr said. “I have to give it to Continental, they build a great tire. The team did a great job. It is my first year with the team driving in the championship. We had a couple of races where we were close and today we were able to win. We didn’t have the best start to the weekend with my spin, but it is great to get the win.”
“It is great to win in the back yard of Cadillac here in Detroit,” Curran said. “Everyone from the company is here and to win in a Cadillac in Detroit is great. After our accident in practice the team was able to rebuild the car. We made the call to keep the tires on at the pit stop and Felipe did a great job to drive the car fast and keep it at the front to get the win. The guys on the box won it for us today. It is also a special win as it is Sonny Whelen’s birthday from Whelen Engineering.”
The Mustang Sampling Cadillac team pushed their fuel strategy a little too far today in Detroit. On the last lap the car stumbled on fuel and Filipe Albuquerque lost a couple positions going from fourth to sixth. Joao Barbosa put in a strong opening stint to open the race and managed to lead several laps.
“It was disappointing,” Barbosa said. “I was able to lead a large part of my stint, but the way we worked the strategy just didn’t work for us today. It is too bad. We had a really good Cadillac, we were right up there. We had good pace, but we could not get the finish we wanted. We will come back even stronger at Watkins Glen at the end of the month.”
“Very frustrating today,” Albuquerque said. “We committed to a different strategy. I would have been happy with a P4, but we lost two places as I was running out of fuel at the end. I could have maybe saved more, but I think we may have a fuel pick-up issue. I was frustrated to lose two positions in a matter of 300 meters.”
The Konica Minolta Cadillac team came home in fifth today. The team struggled with the set-up of the No. 10 Cadillac DPi-V.R this weekend, so drivers Jordan Taylor and Renger Van Der Zande had to settle for a fifth place run on the weekend.
“It was obviously a tough day – a tough weekend, actually,” Taylor said. “We didn’t roll off the truck especially strong, we were seventh in qualifying. We made some changes for the race and the car was a bit better, but I think we’re still missing a little something compared to the other Cadillac that ended up winning. It was a tough race but, considering how difficult it was, I think fifth place was surprisingly good. I felt like we were running tenth most of the time, so to end up fifth is not that bad considering what it could have been. We kind of hung in there, didn’t give up, and we had some good strategy to keep us there. Obviously, two cars running out of fuel on the last lap was a big help to us. Looking ahead to Watkins Glen we have some work to do, but we’re still very much in the championship hunt, so leaving with another top-five wasn’t a bad thing.”
“I think I was pretty satisfied with my stint going from seventh toward the front,” Van Der Zande said. “I had to make some cool moves to pick up some positions. After that, I just settled in. I knew it was going to be a short day for me in the car. At the same time, I felt I didn’t have the pace to move more forward than I was able to during the bullfight at the beginning of the race, where you just put your elbows out and get to the front. But then, on pure pace, we couldn’t do that. And Jordan, the same thing, we’re lacking place, so we were lucky to finish fifth. We definitely have some work to do.”
The Spirit of Daytona Cadillac team had a tough restart to their season. Having been away from the series since Sebring, the team suffered a transmission issue which ended their day an hour into the race. Matt McMurry and Tristan Vautier will be back behind the wheel at Watkins Glen at the end of the month.
“I started having problems downshifting into second gear two or three laps before we pitted,” Vautier said. “Second gear disappeared altogether on the in lap – and that’s pretty much the only gear you use in every corner here. It’s a shame. We were so eager to come back after such a long wait and it’s disappointing especially because it’s three in a row that something has happened. But that’s when you must be strong, in these moments of adversity. You have to keep your head up and try to take some positives away from here as we head to Watkins Glen. We had a good test there so hopefully we can get some momentum back there.”
“It was good to be back with the team, though it didn’t turn out to be the best weekend,” McMurry said. “We didn’t have the top speed that the Acuras and Orecas did, so it was difficult to even get close enough to pass during the race. The car handled well and we could do good lap times, but we just couldn’t get in there and mix it up. Hopefully it will be better at Watkins Glen. We were fast there during testing so now we’ll turn our focus in that direction.”
“We are thrilled to have Cadillac win here today in the Motor City,” Mark Reuss, Executive Vice President of Global Product Development, Purchasing and Supply Chain at General Motors, said. “It is a great win for Gary Nelson and the whole Whelen Engineering team. Nothing makes us more excited than beating some of the top teams in the IMSA Series here on Belle Isle. A great way to start off the Belle Isle race weekend with a Cadillac in victory lane.”
The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship will take a little break for Le Mans and return to action June 29 – July 1.
Source. Kyle Chura/Photo. Cadillac/Richard Prince