Talk about a view from the top.
Saturday at Daytona International Speedway was all about summits. The defending Rolex 24 championship team, which also is the defending IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship team, was sky-high again near Turn 1, or rather, overlooking Turn 1, where new grandstands are providing a preview of the speedway’s DAYTONA Rising construction project.
For Action Express Racing drivers Joao Barbosa, Sebastien Bourdais and Christian Fittipaldi, this third summit was achieved in simpler fashion but the result was nonetheless spectacular. For arguably the best team in the house, getting to check out what are arguably the best seats in the house was something special indeed. The top level of the new grandstands rises 150 feet above the speedway; the new seats in the west end of the frontstretch grandstands provide a prime sightline to the entire 3.56-mile road course.
The drivers got their top-tier tour during a break in Saturday’s Roar Before the Rolex 24 test sessions.
“It’s huge … and obviously, a perfect view of the track,” said Fittipaldi, who teamed with Barbosa to win the TUDOR Championship’s driving and team titles last year. “Daytona is always an awesome facility and now, there are upgrades [like this] that will make it even more user-friendly for everyone who comes to watch the races.”
Bourdais, primarily known for his success in open-wheel racing, joined Barbosa and Fittipaldi for the Rolex 24 last year. His return this year makes the trio a definite threat to repeat, in the season-opening event for the second-year TUDOR Championship.
“This is quite phenomenal; you can see everything there is to see,” Bourdais said. “There’s no better point of view than that, at any kind of race track where I’ve been.”
Added Barbosa: “I’m really surprised and really impressed. This [view] is tremendous. I think fans who sit there and watch the race will really, really have a good time. This is the spot to come to.”
Action Express fared well in the first two (of four) practice sessions Saturday, posting the third-fastest speed in the first session and the second-fastest in the second session. Jordan Taylor led the first session in the No. 10 Corvette DP with a fast lap of 129.218 mph (1 minutes, 39.181 seconds); the second session was led by NASCAR Sprint Cup Series regular AJ Allmendinger in the No. 60 Honda/Ligier JS P2, at 128.910 (1:39.418).
Tickets for the Rolex 24 At Daytona and the Roar Before the Rolex 24, which wraps up Sunday, can be purchased online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP.
Fans can follow sports cars at www.imsa.com and go on Twitter at TUDOR United SportsCar Championship (@UnitedSportsCar). Fans can also stay connected with Daytona International Speedway on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest for the latest news all season long. Fans can follow the latest on DAYTONA Rising, the $400 million frontstretch renovation at the “World Center of Racing” by using #DAYTONARising on Twitter or visiting www.daytonarising.com.