Action Express Leads NAEC Standings After Two Races
#911 Porsche Team North America Porsche 911 RSR, GTLM: Patrick Pilet, Nick Tandy, FrÈdÈric Makowiecki, #22 Tequila Patron ESM Nissan DPi, P: Pipo Derani, Johannes van Overbeek, Nicolas Lapierre, #33 Riley Motorsports Mercedes AMG GT3, GTD: Jeroen Bleekemolen, Ben Keating, Luca Stolz, podium, Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup
While only two races into IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, the halfway point in terms of point-scoring opportunities toward the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup has already passed.
Points toward the Patrón Endurance Cup standings are awarded at strategic intervals in each race – every six hours at the Rolex 24, after each four-hour segment at Sebring, at halfway and the finish at Watkins Glen, and at the four- and eight-hour mark, as well as the finish at the Motul Petit Le Mans.
At each interval, the leader in each class receives five points, with four points for second place, three points for third and two points for every other car in the field from fourth on back.
In the Prototype class, it’s a very familiar team – albeit a different car than usual – leading the way.
Action Express Racing, which has won all four previous Patrón Endurance Cups since the award’s inception back in 2014 with its No. 5 Cadillac DPi-V.R tops the charts this time around with the No. 31 squad and drivers Eric Curran, Felipe Nasr and Mike Conway.
A key contributor to the No. 31 team’s position in the standings is its runner-up result at Daytona and a third-place finish at Sebring. However, the team has scored the maximum five points at two different intervals so far – at the six-hour mark in Daytona and after eight hours at Sebring – and has only scored the minimum two points once so far, after Hour 4 at Sebring.
The No. 31 team has a six-point lead, 27-21, over Joao Barbosa, Filipe Albuquerque and Christian Fittipaldi, winners of the Rolex 24 At Daytona.
In third place, one point behind the No. 5 team, is the No. 7 Acura Team Penske Acura ARX-05 DPi team of Ricky Taylor, Helio Castroneves and Graham Rahal.
The Prototype manufacturers’ race for the Patrón Endurance Cup is even closer, with four points separating Cadillac, which has 30, from second-place Acura.
Teammates also hold down the top-two spots in the GT Le Mans standings.
Leading the way on the strength of three, five-point segments and a runner-up race result in the Rolex 24 is the No. 66 Chip Ganassi Ford GT and co-drivers Joey Hand, Dirk Mueller and Sebastien Bourdais.
Just one point, 25-24, separates the No. 66 team from the No. 67 Ford trio of Rolex 24 winners, Richard Westbrook, Ryan Briscoe and Scott Dixon.
In third place, four points behind the leaders, are the No. 911 Porsche GT Team trio of Sebring winners Nick Tandy, Patrick Pilet and Frederic Makowiecki.
In the manufacturer battle, Ford leads Porsche by four points, 28-24, with Chevrolet one point behind in third.
In the GT Daytona class, it’s another group of familiar faces in the the lead.
Two-time class Patrón Endurance Cup-winning Riley Motorsports-Team AMG leads the way with its No. 33 Mercedes-AMG GT3 co-driven by Ben Keating, Jeroen Bleekemolen and Luca Stolz.
Last year, Keating and Bleekemolen took the title – the first for Mercedes-AMG – and in 2015, co-drivers Al Carter and Cameron Lawrence won it in the team’s No. 93 Dodge Viper.
This year, the No. 33 Mercedes team – which finished third at Sebring and has scored the maximum five points in two different intervals so far – has a three-point lead, 24-21, over a tie for second.
One of those teams is the No. 86 Michael Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 program with drivers Katherine Legge, Alvaro Parente and Trent Hindman.
The other is the Sebring-winning No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3 and full-season drivers Bryan Sellers and Madison Snow.
The Patrón Endurance Cup manufacturers’ race looks a little different, as Lamborghini has company atop the standings in last year’s winner, Mercedes-AMG.
Both manufacturers have 25 points each, two more than Acura.
This year, Lamborghini became the first manufacturer in series history to win the GTD class at both Daytona and Sebring in the same year.
“Lamborghini are delighted to be the first OEM in the modern GT3 era to win Daytona and Sebring back to back in the GTD class,” said Lamborghini Senior Manager, Motorsport, Chris Ward.