Last year, the Mustang Sampling Cadillac team of Filipe Albuquerque and Joao Barbosa led the final 31 of 70 laps of IMSA’s Prototype race on the streets of Long Beach, with the unique event bringing out the best in both drivers and the No. 5 Action Express Racing crew.
“Last year, I really enjoyed the environment, and I loved the track since my first lap,” said Albuquerque, who made his IMSA sprint-format debut with the team last spring. “It was fantastic to be in an endurance car between walls. It reminded me of my time in DTM and formula cars. I didn’t really know what to expect before Long Beach, but since I won, I love the sprint races even more!
My approach to learning the track worked well,” Albuquerque continued, “and I will keep fine-tuning that even more this year.”
The No. 5 Action Express team finished third in its Long Beach debut in 2014, with Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi at the wheel of its Corvette DP. The Mustang Sampling colors debuted the following year, with Barbosa and Fittipaldi finishing fifth en route to capturing their second consecutive IMSA WeatherTech Championship title. In 2016, the two drivers finished second in the beachside race.
“I can’t wait to go back,” said Barbosa. “I like the track, and it is so cool that we take the races to the fans there. There is a lot of chance for them to interact with what we are doing.
“Obviously IndyCar is big [in Long Beach] but I love that we can go and showcase what IMSA sportscars are all about, and make some new friends for our sport. It is a busy weekend and there isn’t a lot of track time, but it is a very cool event. The track is challenging for the drivers so it’s [a race] you always look forward to.”