Packing the momentum of a podium finish as well as the confidence that comes with being the defending race winners, Mustang Sampling Racing returns to the streets of Long Beach this weekend for the Bubba Burgers Grand Prix, Round 3 of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship on Saturday, April 13.
Filipe Albuquerque and Joao Barbosa are coming off a third-place finish in the grueling Twelve Hours of Sebring, and are looking for a second-consecutive strong showing to gain ground in quest of a third IMSA championship.
Last year, the team led the final 31 of the 70 laps in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi-V.R.
Barbosa started fifth and held his own in the early stages of the race, with the team pit stop execution seeing the Mustang Sampling Cadillac move to the front as Albuquerque controlled the pace to claim victory in his first-ever IMSA sprint event appearance.
“Last year, I really enjoyed the environment, and I loved the track since my first lap,” said Albuquerque, who made his sprint-format debut with Mustang Sampling at the event. “It was fantastic to be in an endurance car between walls. It reminded me of times sprint racing in DTM and formula cars. I didn’t really know what to expect before Long Beach, but since I won, I love the sprint races even more! My approach to learning the track worked well, and I will keep fine-tuning that even more this year.”
The No. 5 Action Express team finished third in its Long Beach debut in 2014, with Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi at the wheel of the No. 5 Corvette DP. The Mustang Sampling colors debuted the following year, with Barbosa and Fittipaldi finishing fifth en route to capturing their second-consecutive WeatherTech Championship title. In 2016, the two drivers finished second in the Bubba Burger Grand Prix of Long Beach.
“I can’t wait to go back,” said Barbosa. “I like the track and it is so cool that we take the races to the fans there. There is a lot of chance for them to interact with what we are doing. Obviously IndyCar is big there but I love that we can go and showcase what IMSA sportscars are all about and make some new friends for our sport. It is a busy weekend and there isn’t a lot of track time but it is a very cool event and the track is challenging for the drivers so it’s one you always look forward to.”
A two-hour practice session for the WeatherTech Championship teams will begin at 7:40 a.m. (all times PT) on Friday, April 12, with a 45-minute session starting at 4:45 p.m. Qualifying then follows at 6 p.m. Saturday’s lone on-track activity is the 100-minute race, with the green flag waving at 2:05 p.m.
Source Sunday Group