Contract negotiations for the No. 31 Cadillac DPi-V.R are in a “very good place” according to Action Express Racing team manager Gary Nelson, who expects the team to continue in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship next year.
The four-time DPi/Prototype championship-winning squad scaled back to a single Cadillac DPi for Felipe Nasr and Pipo Derani this year, with initial questions surrounding Whelen’s involvement in the program for 2021.
Nelson, however, revealed that discussions are at an advanced stage and feels confident that the car will remain on the grid.
“I think we’re in a very good position,” he told Sportscar365. “We’re definitely having contract talks but we’re still in the middle of this season.
“Usually we’re just past halfway and we get going with next year’s [planning]. Even though the calendar has moved so far, we’re still right there.
“The sponsor is always first. Then the four drivers — the endurance [driver] and Rolex 24 [driver]. That’s the chronological [order].
“We’re real close with the sponsor but they haven’t been able to come to the track. There’s a lot of other reasons that makes it hard to do.
“I think we’re good. The whole contract conversations are in a very good place.”
Nelson said he expects both Derani and Nasr to return to the No. 31 car, with the duo arguably considered one of the strongest driver pairings in the DPi class.
“That’s going very well,” Nelson added. “Hopefully we’ll have something to announce pretty soon.”
Return to Two-Car Operation Not Ruled Out
A return to two cars remains the the team’s goal, according to Nelson, although he admitted it may not necessarily materialize next year.
The 2020 season has marked the first year the North Carolina-based team has run as a single-car operation, following the off-season defection of sponsor Mustang Sampling, driver Joao Barbosa and sporting director Christian Fittipaldi to JDC-Miller Motorsports.
“That’s really one of our goals,” Nelson said of running two cars. “There’s so many benefits to do that. I couldn’t say we’re close on a two-car program.
“We’re having conversations and there’s potential there. But more of what we’re concentrating on is our Whelen 31 car, get that done, and then start thinking about [a second car].”