After capturing the opening round of the 2018 IMSA Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup during January’s Rolex 24 At Daytona, Whelen Engineering Racing will target a third consecutive podium finish in the challenging 12 Hours of Sebring presented by Advanced Auto Parts this weekend.
The race is the second round of the 2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, which saw the team get off to a fast start at Daytona with a run to second overall with the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Racing DPi-V.R.
Sharing the driving duties will once again be Eric Curran (US), Felipe Nasr (BR), and Mike Conway (UK). Conway and Curran raced to a third place result in the event in 2017, with Curran scoring second for Whelen Engineering Racing in 2016.
Curran has a particular fondness for the track, as it is one that played host for a key experience for the American racer with Whelen Engineering Racing .
“The very first race that I drove for Sonny (Whelen) was Sebring, and in the first race of the weekend we had an oil filter fail and it caught fire—nearly burned to the ground,” said Curran of the 2007 race weekend. “But the team worked all night long and we came back and won the race the next day. It was just incredible and that was an amazing way to start with Whelen.”
The team recently had the opportunity to test on the 3.7-mile circuit in a series open test event hosted by IMSA as the drivers made the most of the time they had behind the wheel of the Cadillac Prototype machine.
“The Sebring test went pretty well!” said Nasr, who finished third in last weekend’s Brazilian StockCar all-star invitational event. “Sebring is always a fun and challenging track to drive, but most importantly during the test we worked to understand how the car reacts to changes because a well set up car here can make a big difference, especially over the bumps.”
With the event once again attracting an all-star roster of talent with international interest in the teams and drivers that are set to compete, the run to the top of the podium will no doubt be a hard fought one for whomever emerges with the victory.
“It’s going to be very hard again!” predicts Nasr. “From what I saw from the test, it’s seems like the field is pretty close once more. Sebring is a tough track, but I feel confident on our package as a team to fight them, as long we can keep running our cars trouble free.”
Entering the event with a strong start to the season for both Action Express Racing-managed entries once again sees the Denver, NC-based organization pushing for the top results.
“It is pretty exciting for Action Express as a team to be 1-2 in the Endurance Cup as well as in the (IMSA WeatherTech) standings,” said Curran. “Obviously we’d like the Whelen machine to be on top of the standings and the goal is for this team to be 1-2 the whole year. I feel like this is a really strong program with our guys, the car prep has been awesome and this is a great driver line up to be a part of.”
After the Rolex 24, Nasr took to the open waters with some of his Action Express Racing teammates as he tried his hand at some off-shore fishing while getting to know his teammates a little bit better as well.
“My teammates are all crazy—we all dressed up Miami Vice style for the boat! It was a lot of fun but I have to admit that I got sick out there! But it is always great spending time outside the track with your teammates.”
The race weekend will open with a full day of practice on Thursday that includes a night session, with Friday qualifying setting the grid ahead of the 10:30 AM launch for the 12 Hour
Born: June 8, 1975 (42)
Hometown: Springfield, MA
P Championships: 1 Overall
Accomplishments: 2016 IMSA Prototype Champion, 31 Professional Race Wins, 17 Professional Poles, Competing in SCCA World Challenge, Grand AM GT, Continental Tire Championships, NASCAR Xfinity Series, NASCAR K&N Series, ADAC GT Masters
Hobbies/Fun Fact: Co-Owner of West Coast Exotics and avid driver coach and HSR competitor during off weekends.
Full-time Action Express Racing driver Eric Curran brings over 20 years of race experience to the team. Most notably, he won the 2016 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship with Action Express Racing and followed that up with a run to second in the 2017 championship standings. He has raced for Action Express Racing since 2015. Curran has competed in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series (2008-2010) and won races in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge, and Pirelli World Challenge driving a variety of different machinery.
Born: August 21, 1992 (25)
Hometown: Brasilia, Brazil
P Championships: 2018 will be first full season of IMSA Competition. 2012 Sunoco Challenge Winner, 2012 Daytona 24 Hour Prototype Podium Finish
Accomplishments: 2009 Formula BMW Europe Champion, 2011 British Formula 3 Champion, 2011 Macau Podium/F3, 2014 Official Williams F1Test Driver, 2015/2016 Sauber F1 driver, 39 Career F1 Starts w/29 career points
Hobbies/Fun Fact: Began Karting at age 7. Enjoys sports, fishing and mechanics. Favorite films are Star Wars, James Bond and his favorite race track is Spa-Francorchamps
Former Formula 1 driver Felipe Nasr joins Action Express Racing full-time in 2018. With over 40 starts in the top-level Formula 1 category, Nasr finished fifth in his first-career F1 race in the Australian Grand Prix in 2015. It was the best ever result for a Brazilian driver making a Grand Prix debut. He also served as a test and reserve F1 driver in 2014 for WilliamsF1. A multi-champion across several European open-wheel divisions, Nasr first teamed with Action Express Racing in the 2013 Rolex 24 At Daytona after having scored a third place finish in his Rolex 24 At Daytona debut as a Sunoco Whelen Challenge winner in 2012.
Born: August 19, 1983 (34)
Hometown: Bromley, England
P Championships: 1 NAEC
Accomplishments: Competed in Formula Ford and F3, 2004 Formula Renault UK Champion, 2006 British Formula 3 Champion, GP2 Driver, 4 IndyCar wins, 2014 Honda F1 test driver, Toyota P1 Factory Driver in FIA WEC, and Formula E Championships, finished 2nd in the 2016 24 Hours of LeMans.
Hobbies/Fun Fact: Began Karting at age 8. The world record holder in the “Fethard to ‘Keeffes run”.
Mike Conway returns to Action Express Racing in 2018 as a Whelen Engineering Racing endurance driver for the Rolex 24, Sebring 12 Hour, and Petit Le Mans events. Conway has years of experience across several different racing platforms that include winning outings in IndyCar and World Endurance Championship competition as well as big performances in FIA Formula E.
Action Express Racing History:
2017 Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup (No. 5 Mustang Sampling)
2016 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship (No. 31 Whelen Engineering)
2016 Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup (No. 5 Mustang Sampling)
2015 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship (No. 5 Mustang Sampling)
2015 Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup (No. 5 Mustang Sampling)
2014 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship (No. 5 Mustang Sampling)
2014 Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup (No. 5 Mustang Sampling)
Action Express Racing Wins:
2018 Rolex 24 At Daytona
2017 Canadian Tire Motorsports Park
2017 Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen
2016 Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen
2016 Canadian Tire Motorsports Park
2016 Continental Tire Road Race Showcase
2015 Petit Le Mans
2015 Continental Tire Road Race Showcase (1-2 sweep)
2015 Chevrolet Sports Car Classic
2015 Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring
2014 Continental Tire Road Race Showcase
2014 Brickyard Grand Prix
2014 Rolex 24 at Daytona
2013 Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen
2013 Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course
2012 Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen
2012 Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix (1-2 sweep)
2011 Virginia International Raceway
2010 Rolex 24 at Daytona
Source. Sunday Group