Seven races into the 2015 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship season, the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Action Express Racing Corvette DP pairing of Dane Cameron and Eric Curran is starting to hit its stride.
For Cameron, who returned to a Daytona Prototype this year after winning the inaugural GT Daytona class championship in 2014, the second-place finish Sunday at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park served as both a disappointment and a reminder of how far they have come this season.
The team needed an extra late stop to ensure they made the distance on fuel, and as such, forced Cameron into a box needing to push like mad in order to build enough of a gap to pit and still have a fighting chance to win.
Cameron described the roller coaster day at CTMP, where he and Curran banked their second podium of the year in second, just behind the Taylor brothers.
“I was by myself most of the race, which is abnormal for Prototype racing,” Cameron told Sportscar365. “It almost felt like an IndyCar style of race, more strategy-based.
“We had a target to manipulate the gaps, but by doing so I was on the back end of the train. So we had to go flat out to cycle ourselves around to pit. We never planned to do a fourth and last stop.
“We were in an awkward position on stints, but then we got in a really good position. Then when Joao [Barbosa] had his problems, we got back in it.
“I didn’t know the number but I tried to dig every lap. It was a fun challenge. It was satisfying we did everything we could to achieve the gap, do one more stop than the Taylors and still get the second podium.”
Cameron said the new unit for Action Express’ second car has fully come together at this point in the season, to where wins are expected. Earlier in the year, the growing pains of a new group took time to bear fruit.
“The first couple races we had some issues, but it wasn’t all there as far as being a well-oiled machine,” Cameron said.
“When you see how long the core group at Spirit of Daytona, the Action Express 5 car and the Taylor boys have been together, there’s a lot of continuity.
“We’re new with the engineering side, a new driver pairing, new as a group with two cars, splitting crew guys, and a lot of stuff had to get sorted out. But now, it’s all started to come together.
“At Action Express, we want to be challenging every weekend. Nothing less will do at this point.”
Still, with only three races remaining, Cameron and Curran have outside championship chances after banking top-five finishes in all seven races thus far.
They sit third in points, 11 behind the leading VisitFlorida.com pair of Richard Westbrook and Michael Valiante.
Cameron will make a one-race detour back to his GTD-winning entry at Lime Rock Park next weekend, sharing the No. 97 Turner Motorsport BMW Z4 GT3 with Michael Marsal.
It’ll keep Cameron fresh on a weekend when the Prototype class is off, and with regular driver Markus Palttala at Spa for the 24 Hours.
“It’s the same group there last year,” Cameron said. “There was no bad breakup. On my end, it was just the program wasn’t ready while I had another great opportunity and I had to take it.
“They had a vacancy to fill, so it was pretty much going to be me to do it. With the runs we had last year, the stars should align pretty quickly.”
Overall, after running four different cars in as many seasons – the Mazda RX-8 and a Riley-BMW DP for Team Sahlen, the Turner BMW last year and now the Action Express Corvette this year – Cameron appears to have found a new home.
“I feel like I’m in a good spot, being with Whelen and Action Express Racing,” Cameron said. “We know Action Express will be committed to whatever shape and form goes into the future.
“Sonny Whelen has been such a huge motorsports supporter. Eric’s been with Sonny for like nine years. So he’s committed to the future. He’s enjoying the added exposure of the top class.
“It will be interesting to see where the regs take us. The competition is great now but it would be great to go from 10 cars to 15 or 20. That’s all you can really hope for.”