***Joao Barbosa credited he and Filipe Albuquerque’s victory in Saturday’s Bubba Burger Sports Car Grand Prix of Long Beach to a fuel conservation run during Barbosa’s opening stint, which led to a quicker final fuel-only stop to put the No. 5 Action Express Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R out front.
***Barbosa ran fifth throughout his opening stint until pitting on Lap 25 while during the race’s second full-course caution.
***Single-stop strategies for the No. 31 Action Express Cadillac DPi and No. 6 Team Penske Acura ARX-05, which led the early stages, backfired when both were forced to make full service stops while under the green and lost considerable time. Dane Cameron finished fifth while Eric Curran came home eighth.
***Ryan Dalziel and Scott Sharp recorded their first finish of the season, with a second place result in the No. 2 Tequila Patron ESM Nissan Onroak DPi. Gearbox failures at both Daytona and Sebring resulted in early retirements in the two season-opening races.
***While originally suspected to also be a gearbox failure, the ESM’s No. 22 car of Pipo Derani retired after a piece of debris hit the master kill switch.
***Gearbox problems hit the No. 85 JDC-Miller Motorsports Oreca 07 Gibson on multiple occasions this weekend, with the car missing qualifying as a result of an issue in Practice 2. Robert Alon was forced to call it quits in the race when the car ground to a halt just past the 30-minute mark.
***The No. 38 Performance Tech Motorsports Oreca was also another early race retirement after Kyle Masson made contact with the No. 52 AFS/PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports Ligier JS P217 Gibson of Gustavo Yacaman on the opening lap and ended up stranded on track. The 20-year-old was handed a penalty for incident responsibility.
***The wounded car, however, was delivered to the wrong paddock for the second time this weekend, with the tow truck leaving it in Turn 5 near the IndyCar paddock before being towed back to a designated workstation while under a later caution period.
***Porsche GT Team had a race to forget, with both of its Porsche 911 RSRs hitting trouble, including multiple incidents and delays for the No. 911 car of Nick Tandy and Patrick Pilet, which ultimately finished in 6th on the tail end of the lead lap.
***The No. 912 Porsche held control of the race in GT Le Mans until a suspension stud snapped while under the final yellow, in the hands of Earl Bamber. The Kiwi limped the car around for a few laps but was ultimately forced to retire.
***Eventual class winner Tommy Milner admitted it would have been difficult to pass Bamber on sheer pace had the Porsche not hit trouble. “We were certainly lucky he had a problem; they had a fast car,” Milner told Sportscar365. “The 911, which was a lap down, I let him go, just to keep him away from me a little bit.”
***Contact between Pilet and the class pole-sitting No. 66 Ford GT of Joey Hand resulted in damage to both cars early on, including a piece of the Ford’s rear deck having been dragged around until it eventually fell off.
***The biggest impact of the day, however, came from Alexander Sims, who slammed his No. 25 Team RLL BMW M8 GTE into the wall with 42 minutes remaining while running second in class. Sims had previously led the race, courtesy of a green flag pit stop prior to the second yellow.
***Team Penske competed in its 2,500th race on Saturday when Austin Cindric took the green flag in the NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway. While the majority of the team’s starts have come in either NASCAR or IndyCar competition, although it had 183 starts in IMSA prior to today’s race.
***DJR Team Penske driver Fabian Coulthard was a guest of the sports car squad this weekend, with the Virgin Australian Supercars ace getting his first look at the team’s Acura DPi program, which is being run by former DJR Penske Supercars team manager Jeff Swartwout. “It’s good to come and see familiar faces but these things excite me; it’s so cool. I’d love to have a steer of them one day,” Coulthard told Sportscar365.
***Coulthard, who finished third in the 2017 Supercars championship, said he’d be interested in taking part in sports car races such as the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Twelve Hours of Sebring and Bathurst 12 Hour, but only in the right package with the “ability to win.”
***Rob Dyson, meanwhile, made his return to the IMSA paddock this weekend, although has essentially ruled out any imminent top-level sports car racing program for Dyson Racing, despite off-season rumors linking the team to a return to competition.
***Dyson told Sportscar365 that members of the team are remaining active through Chris Dyson’s new CD Racing operation in Trans-Am, the team’s endeavors in historic racing, as well as the Dyson’s stake in AER, which holds several engine supply contracts with Mazda.