IMSA • September 20, 2016
The No. 31 Whelen/Team Fox Corvette DP finished second in Saturday afternoon's (Sept. 17) IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race at the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in Austin, Texas.
Drivers Dane Cameron and Eric Curran crossed the finish line just 1.421 seconds behind the No. 10 entry of Ricky and Jordan Taylor in the two hour and 40 minute race at the 3.41-mile, 20 turn permanent road course in Texas. The No. 31 Whelen Engineering/Team Fox Action Express Racing entry was seeking to register a third consecutive victory this season - but fell just short of reaching that accomplishment.
The runner-up result enabled Cameron and Curran to move ahead of their Action Express teammates Joao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi in the IMSA championship standings in the Prototype class - with one race remaining this year. (Barbosa and Fittipaldi finished third in Texas.) Heading into the race in Texas, Cameron and Curran sat one point behind their teammates in the standings. After finishing one spot ahead of Barbosa and Fittipaldi in Texas, Cameron and Curran now have the lead the standings by one point - with 285 points in the championship standings, a single point ahead of Barbosa and Fittipaldi.
The No. 31 Whelen Engineering Corvette DP - with Cameron behind the steering wheel -- was never able to catch the No. 10 race car during the late stages of the 75-lap race. Although during the final stages of the race Cameron was able to close the gap on the race leader and even pull besides the leader. However, Cameron was never able to get close enough to complete a pass.
Curran began the day behind the wheel of the No. 31 Whelen Engineering entry and started fourth on the grid.
"Our Whelen Engineering car was strong all day," said Curran. "It was a hot day and managing our tires was really important. I did a double stint at the beginning of the race. We had a drive thru penalty, but we were able to keep charging forward after the penalty. Overall, it was a good day for us and I think it's really important for us to take the points lead into the final race. We'll go to Petit Le Mans and fight it out for the title. I'd like nothing more than to be able to give Whelen Engineering and Sonny Whelen a championship."
When Curran turned the car over to Cameron in 2nd place, the No. 31 had some ground to make up on the race track. The #10 leader had gained a decent lead charging through traffic.
"There was a gap to the leader when I got in the race car," said Cameron. "Eric (Curran) did a phenomenal job. It was a really long stint for him, just under two hours, and he didnt have a cool suit. When I got in the race car, I just wanted to look after things. There was a gap to the leader, which was going to be really hard to make up under green conditions. We were rolling along and wanted to save something for the end if we got some yellows and I was able to get close to the No. 10. We were strong in traffic throughout the race, and I was able to get a couple looks in, but just wasn't able to make a pass to take the lead."
For Cameron and Curran, the runner-up result was the seventh time in nine races that the co-drivers have finished among the top-three in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering race car.
"We're happy to have the points lead in the championship standings - even if it's just one point," added Cameron. "It would have made a big difference in the standing if we could have got the win here in Texas, and I'm disappointed that we weren't able to do that."
It marks the fourth consecutive race in which the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Corvette DP has recorded a top-two finish. Before the event in Austin, in the two most recent races on the schedule at Wisconsin's Road America (Aug. 7) Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (July 10) - Cameron and Curran registered first-place finishes. In the race prior to Canada at New York's Watkins Glen International (July 3), the finishing positions for the two Action Express entries were reversed with the No. 5 (Barbosa and Fittipaldi) crossed the finish line ahead of the No. 31 (Cameron and Curran).
"To head into the final race of the year with our teams first and second in the point standings - and separated by just a single point - is probably the best scenario we could have imagined at the beginning of the season," said Gary Nelson, team manager for Action Express Racing. "We will definitely have our work cut out for us at Petit Le Mans. It's a 10 hour race and anything can happen during those long endurance events. Everyone on our race team has worked extremely hard all year long. We just have to continue doing what we've been doing the last four races, and really throughout the whole year, and take care of business at Road Atlanta."
The season-finale for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship is the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta, Oct. 1
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