Launches 2018 North American Endurance Cup Championship Campaign with victory
- 3rd Rolex 24 victory for Barbosa (2010, 2014, 2018) and Fittipaldi (2004, 2014, 2018)
- 2nd Rolex 24 victory for Albuquerque (2013 GT class win, 2018)
- 19th IMSA race victory for Action Express Racing
- Mustang Sampling Racing won the 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017 Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup title
- 808 Laps is new record distance for Rolex 24 in 56 years
- First time crew chief Scott Darnell wins on debut
- 1-2 result for Action Express Racing as sister No. 31 Whelen Engineering Racing entry finishes second
Daytona Beach, Fla. (28 January 2018) Battling one of the most competitive fields in the history of the event, Mustang Sampling Racing emerged from a record-breaking race to take victory in the 2018 Rolex 24 At Daytona on Sunday with drivers Filipe Albuquerque (PRT), Christian Fittipaldi (BRA) João Barbosa (PRT).
The trio started the race from third on the 50-car grid, and were a competitive force from the drop of the green, leading over 500 laps of the race on their way to victory.
Beyond the stout 20-entry field of Prototypes, the team also had to contend with a heavy rainstorm early in the race and then address an overheating engine late in the event. But after nearly 30 picture-perfect pit stops from the squad, the team battled through the night and into the day to claim the checkered flag.
The 56th running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona ran at a record breaking pace, with just 4 cautions slowing the field as the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R covered some 808 laps to set a new record for the Rolex 24 At Daytona.
The team, which also took wins at the 2010 and 2014 Rolex 24 events, won the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup in 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017 and is looking to add another title in 2018.
The next round of IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar competition will be at Sebring International Speedway for the fabled 12 Hour.
Filipe Albuquerque, No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi-V.R:
“We had the alarms going with the temperature and I was looking all the time to the water temperature and oil temperature and it is flashing on and off at the same time. I am seeing the 31 and the 54 gaining laps and laps and I had to overtake the GT cars at the same time. It was really hard to manage. I started hearing every little thing with the car. In the end, the Cadillac was the strongest and was able to handle the high temperatures for the win. Last year was devastating but we stuck together and had a hell of a race today!”
Joao Barbosa, No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi-V.R:
“This race is so much about the guys on the pit wall. They do such an amazing job and are so focused. It was not just the last hour (that was stressful), but the last six hours that we had to manage a lot of things inside the car. It was an unbelievable race. We had a great strategy and we had been working a lot on the car set up and we were able to double stint the tires since the beginning of the race – especially during the night – and we were making up a lot of ground. It is easier to really push than to drive slow and manage your pace. The Cadillac ran well and we made it to the finish. The team did a flawless job. With last year’s disappointment, we finally got one!”
Christian Fittipaldi, No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi-V.R:
“At this stage of my racing career this win is very sweet. I am not sure how many more of these Daytona races I have left, not like Filipe (Albuquerque) who probably has 15 more years and tries. It is unbelievably sweet after what happened last year. We have been racing together for the last three seasons. I want to thank Action Express, Cadillac and Mustang Sampling. The team prepared a great a car and we delivered on the track.”
Ken Thompson, Mustang Sampling
“This is our fourth year with this team and this family. Starting with the Corvettes (Daytona Prototypes) and into the start of the Cadillac DPi-V.R, it has been a phenomenal experience for me, my family, my wife, my company, our customers and everyone. I can’t say enough about this team, and about IMSA. The series has provided us with a place to come race and to give back to the fans, which is so well deserved. I’m at a loss for words – I’m sure it will sink in later!
Bob Johnson, Mustang Sampling Racing Team Principal
“It just doesn’t get any better than this one – this was phenomenal. I couldn’t believe it, all the way through. This team has worked so hard and it shows. That’s what it takes, a lot of hard work. It’s great to be back in Victory Lane, especially after last year. I feel terrible for the other Cadillac teams (that did not finish) and obviously it was a big concern for us as well. We monitored it very closely, and we prevailed. Winning this race for a third time, it gets better every year and I couldn’t be prouder of this team.”