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IMSA: Action Express, Corvette Racing take victories in Long Beach


No. 5 Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac. Photo courtesy of IMSA.

A pair of early cautions in the BUBBA Burger Sports Car Grand Prix created split strategies for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship teams, and a late yellow with less than 30 minutes remaining set up a full sprint to the checkered flag.

Most of the teams elected to pit following a Lap 21 caution for Robert Alon, whose No. 85 JDC-Miller Motorsports Oreca 07 Gibson stopped in the Turn 8 runoff with gearbox problems. However, a couple of teams elected to stay out.

All told, it set up a wild finish that saw the early leaders, most notably in Prototype, fall back in the pack, as those who stopped early found themselves battling for the lead in the second half of the race. And it all resulted in a General Motors sweep of the Prototype and GT Le Mans classes.

Reports Prototype and GTLM are below.

Prototype: Albuquerque, Barbosa Take Second Victory of 2018

Action Express took advantage of the aforementioned Lap 21 yellow to pit Joao Barbosa early, and Filipe Albuquerque used the strategy to his advantage and seize the lead in the second half of the race, going unchallenged in the final stages to take the win in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R.

The race saw a caution fall on Lap 1 for contact between Kyle Masson, in the No. 38 Oreca 07 Gibson for Performance Tech Motorsports, and the No. 52 JS P217 Gibson for AFS/PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports.

Action Express split their strategies under the aforementioned Lap 21 caution, pitting Barbosa while leaving Felipe Nasr, in the sister No. 31 Whelen Engineering Racing Cadillac, out on track. Acura Team Penske did the same, leaving polesitter and early leader Juan Montoya, in the No. 6 ARX-05, out and pitting the sister No. 7, in the hands of Helio Castroneves.

Nasr and Montoya pitted around the halfway point - Nasr on Lap 36 and Montoya on Lap 39. As pit stops cycled through past the halfway point - which included fuel-only stops for everyone who pitted under the Lap 21 caution - Albuquerque ended up in the lead, which he held until the end.

Ryan Dalziel, with Scott Sharp, used the same strategy to finish second for Tequila Patron ESM. The battle for third was a fight between the Taylor brothers, with Jordan getting the better of Ricky, who was struggling with rear tire grip in his No. 7 Acura, to put him and teammate Renger Van Der Zande on the final spot of the podium for Wayne Taylor Racing.

GTLM: Milner, Gavin Survive Long Beach Street Fight for GTLM Victory

While pit strategy impacted the Prototype field, the GTLM field was a straight-up fight between all eight entries.

Hard racing was featured throughout the 100-minute race, and even saw the No. 25 BMW Team RLL M8 GTE lead momentarily after the Lap 21 caution, but driver Alexander Sims was quickly swamped by the field and ultimately dropped out after wall contact with 42 minutes left.

In the end, it was Corvette Racing emerging on top with Tommy Milner and Oliver Gavin in the No. 4 C7.R.

Milner, who finished the race in the No. 4 entry, moved into the lead when then leader Earl Bamber, in the No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR for the Porsche GT Team, suffered right-front suspension failure following a Lap 51 restart.

Milner was able to gap the Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GTs of Ryan Briscoe and Dirk Mueller, in second and third, to take the victory by more just over two seconds. Briscoe and Mueller rounded out the GTLM podium.

Click here for full race results