July has been a roller-coaster of emotions for Felipe Nasr.
It began with a positive diagnosis for COVID-19, causing him to miss the Daytona 240 on July 4. Then it was a matter of getting back-to-back negative tests showing he was clear of the disease.
That accomplished last week, he’s been allowed to rejoin the Whelen Engineering team for tonight’s Cadillac Grand Prix of Sebring.
If the Brazilian has been frustrated, he’s gotten to take it all out on the track. The red-and-white No. 31 Cadillac has been fast all weekend, and will start tonight’s race on the pole thanks to co-driver Pipo Derani.
“What a comeback!” Nasr said. “Pipo putting the car on the pole just makes our day, and I’m so happy for everyone at Action Express. We were happy with how the car’s been handling since the start of free practice yesterday. Today we kept on working on the setup of the car, and Pipo did the job with another mega lap to get pole.
“Now, I’m expecting to get another one of those,” Nasr said, pointing to a victory lane photo from last year’s victory in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring on the wall of the team hauler.
Just getting to Sebring has been a victory for the 27-year-old Brazilian: “I tell you, it was really hard,” Nasr said. “Never in my career, for any reason, have I had to step aside. But it was something I couldn’t control. All I did was to take the honest way, the truth, which was to protect the team. The first thing I did was make sure everyone was informed, with the team and the series.
“We took the right decision, to miss Daytona. Luckily, I had a real minor symptom. I updated the team day to day. And here I am! I’m feeling great, fantastic, full of energy, and ready to jump in that car again – and bring that win for Action Express Racing.”
Gabby Chavez filled in as a late sub for the Daytona 240, joining Derani for a fifth-place finish. But Derani is thrilled to rejoin his good friend and regular co-driver.
“Gabby did a very fine job for us at Daytona, but I was really happy when we found out that Felipe was able to race here,” Derani said. “We’ve been developing such a fantastic partnership between the two of us, and the engineers as well. Everything works smoothly all the time.
“Whenever you miss even one little piece of that puzzle, it makes a difference,” Derani continued. “I’m happy he’s back. We’ve been having a blast all weekend — it’s been fantastic to share again the experience of a race weekend with Felipe. Hopefully, we can bring together the success that this team deserves.”