At first glance, the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi-V.R looks like the same car that Action Express Racing campaigned from 2017-19. Driver Joao Barbosa who won for Mustang Sampling in the 2018 Rolex 24 At Daytona, returns in the black and gold No. 5 Cadillac DPi-V.R.
However, while it looks the same, it’s a different car. With Action Express concentrating on fielding the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac in 2020, the Mustang Sampling colors have transferred to JDC-Miller Motorsports, to the Cadillac that team campaigned as the No. 84 last season.
“It’s a little bit different,” Barbosa said. “Every team has their own philosophy. It’s going very well. The team is working very hard, and I’m looking forward to the season.”
Switching to a classic livery is nothing new for JDC-Miller Motorsports. Two years ago, the team switched to No. 99 and campaigned a car in the GAINSCO “Red Dragon” colors. But the connections to former Mustang Sampling successes are more than skin deep.
As his main co-driver, Barbosa is reunited with Sebastien Bourdais, with whom he won the Rolex 24 in 2014 with Action Express Racing’s No. 5 Corvette Daytona Prototype. Also joining the team are former Action Express driver and sporting director Christian Fittipaldi — who was part of the Rolex 24 winning line-up in both 2014 and ’18 — Tristan Vautier and Loic Duval.
Barbosa is enjoying the transition to the new program.
“Some things feel very similar, some things feel different,” Barbosa said. “Different doesn’t mean it’s bad, one way or the other. Everybody has their own idea of how to do things. But we’re here with the same goal — to do the best we can and bring the Mustang Sampling Cadillac up to the front, where it needs to be.
“This all came together a few weeks before Christmas,” he added. “The good thing that I can feel is that the goal is the same for everyone. We’re all pushing in the same direction to make this a great program. Definitely there are going to be some challenges along the way, but we definitely want to make this work in a great way. We’re not just aiming to make a number – we want to win the race.”
Fittipaldi is also serving as Grand Marshal for the Rolex 24, an event he ran for the first time with the debut of the Daytona Prototypes in 2003. The following year, he joined Bell Motorsports for his first of three victories in the 24-hour classic. He is the only driver to compete in the first and final DP races — the 2003 Rolex 24 and 2016 Petit Le Mans.
“I’m excited to come back here in this role one year after I did my last race,” Fittipaldi said. “On the team side, it’s going to be a new challenge. Mustang Sampling has moved on to a completely different configuration than we’ve run here the last few years. It’s not going to be easy, but we’re looking forward to it.”