Watkins Glen, N.Y. (2 July 2017) – After an afternoon of great pit work, shrewd race strategy and a stirring late race battle for the lead in the closing moments of the 200-lap race, Mustang Sampling Racing drivers Joao Barbosa, Filipe Alburqurque and Christian Fittipaldi combined for a victory in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi-V.R on Sunday.
Carrying a highly compelling custom Mustang Sampling livery that celebrated American icons like Mount Rushmore, the tail fins of a 1959 Cadillac, and the Lunar Landing, as well as the autograph of Johan de Nysschen (Executive Vice President & President of Cadillac), the No. 5 Mustang Sampling took a second consecutive victory in the Sahlen’s Six Hour event.
The race was the sixth round of the 2017 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, as Action Express scored a third victory in six years at the beloved Upstate New York track. It is also the team’s sixth podium in six years at the circuit.
Fittipaldi started the race and worked forward through the opening segments of the race, turning the car over to Albuquerque for the middle stints before Barbosa took the controls with just over two hours remaining in the race.
“I can’t explain how happy I am,” said Fittipaldi. “We ran well here today and more than that we won here three years in six. We by no means were the fastest car this weekend. It was like last year – race craft. The team had great strategy and we put together strong pit stops and we didn’t take any risks. When we needed to perform during the race, we did. Joao (Barbos) pulled the move of the race at the end to get the win. In six years, we have won here three times. Our team has a great record at Watkins Glen and today was awesome.”
Five caution periods slowed the race, which otherwise ran at a flat out pace under warm summer conditions. Albuquerque raced his way to the lead on lap 119 and worked to grow the advantage through his stint.
“This was a weird race for me,” said Albuquerque. “During my stint I went to the race lead in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac then Joao (Barbosa) had a good gap and I saw Simpson in the 85 car behind him. Then I had to jump in and drive the team’s Whelen Engineering Cadillac to do some laps. I had to do the job for the 31 and I told the engineer to keep me posted on the No. 5 car. He was telling me he was P1 and then P2 and then P1 again. I am very happy! We have had two second positions at Daytona and Sebring. Getting the win is great. I think we turned the page for the team and we will go on and fight for the endurance championship.”
The team led a race-high 73 laps through the race and had built a healthy margin to the field ahead of the final caution period on lap 181, which eliminated the advantage that Barbosa held over the pack. A lap 184 restart saw Barbosa lose the lead for nine laps before the 2014 and 2015 IMSA champion was able to regain the point with a decisive move on lap 194 to lead the final six laps to the checkered flag.
“It was really tough,” Barbosa said of the late race battle for the lead. “Simpson (driver, No. 85) did a great job. Once my tires came in on that last stint I was on the pace. I was waiting for the traffic. Once we hit traffic I knew we had a shot. I had a good run on him going into Turn 1, we touched side to side, but that is racing. He raced me clean, I have a lot of respect for him. I hope to have a few more races like this to the end of the year. This is one of my favorite race tracks in the world. The team worked really hard since the last race on the car. We are feeling more connected with the Cadillac and it is great to win here today.”
“We knew it was going to be tough,” said Team Owner Bob Johnson. “We didn’t have the speed that some of the others had, but we knew how to get home. I think that Joao (Barbosa) just showed how much he wanted it. That’s what counts and we expect to win.”
The next IMSA outing for the Mustang Sampling will be in one week as the team heads north to Canada for the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park round of WeatherTech racing on July 9.
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