Coming off a win at Watkins Glen last month, Whelen Engineering drivers Pipo Derani (Brazil) and Felipe Nasr (Brazil) look to capture back-to-back wins in this weekend’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship IMSA SportsCar Weekend at Road America.
Action Express Racing has had quite a bit of success at Road America over the years. The team won back-to-back-to-back races in 2014, 2015, and 2016. In 2015 and 2016, both team cars finished 1-2. Overall, at Road America, the team has three wins and five podium finishes dating back to the 2014 season, including a podium finish last season.
With all of the team’s success, Derani and Nasr look forward to returning to Road America in hopes of climbing up that Driver’s Point Championship ladder with a solid result this weekend.
“Road America is possibly one of the best racetracks in the world,” Derani said. “It’s superfast – especially driving our Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi V.R. It’s fantastic. We had a podium finish last year. I had one in 2017. The team has had a lot of success there. It’s a track we know well. But, at the same time, it’s a track that gives so much opportunity to any car that’s on track because it has so many different types of corners. It allows different cars to be quick in different places on the track. So, it’s very challenging. It’s a rewarding place to drive every single lap. It’s a thrill.
“We are coming in as the current race winner from Watkins Glen. We’re charging and trying to get closer to the Championship leaders. We are currently P3, but still very much within reach with four rounds to go. The approach will be to attack. We’re not in the position to just think about the Championship. We have to win races and then see where we are at, at the end of the Championship. We are going in with that mentality – expect to win. Hopefully, we can come away with a strong result again and put us even closer to the Championship lead. We’re going for it.”
“I’m very much looking forward to Road America,” Nasr said. “By far, it’s one of the fastest tracks in North America and one of my favourites. Road America offers so much as a track. It’s a challenge. There are lots of high-speed corners and it’s such a long lap. There are several different types of corners, hard braking zones, up and down hills. It’s awesome. It’s a track that offers everything to the drivers and cars. It’s an interesting track to find the ideal setup, if you ever do find the ideal setup. I really enjoy going back there.
“We been on the podium there in the past. It’s a race I’ve been on the podium a couple of times, but never won it. So, for sure, I want to tick that box. We all want to bring the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac to victory lane like we did last month at Watkins Glen. That was awesome. I feel the team has been carrying momentum and we are fighting for the Championship again – putting ourselves in contention. This year, the competition has been tight, and the field has been pretty close. I guess we just have to take each session as it comes, work as much as we can on the car setup, and get the best starting position possible. The guys at Action Express Racing know how to handle all of the strategy and the pit stop calls, which will make a difference at that track. [Getting] a win takes a lot of factors coming together as racing always does. I feel that tires are pretty critical at a place like that – how you manage your tires over a stint, how you set up the car to run consistently over a stint. Connecting all those dots, I’m pretty sure we can have a shot at a win. We’re still in the Championship hunt. We want to do everything we can to carry over the momentum until the final race at Road Atlanta. So, we’ve got to score as many points as we can. If we get a win, that’s fantastic. I’m hungry. I know Pipo is hungry. The team is pretty focused on that plan. We are all going to do whatever it takes. As Gary Nelson always says, ‘Expect to win.’”
This season, Whelen Engineering/Action Express has one win, three podiums and two poles. Derani and Nasr are third in the DPi Driver Point Championship (1,954 points), just 114 points behind the DPi leaders. The team is also third in the Team Point Championship.
Source. Kyle Chura Associates/Photo Brian Cleary