After 10 hours on Saturday night, a Corvette Daytona Prototype team and driver pairing will win its third consecutive series championship.
The question is which of the three eligible entries will be the one to bring it home.
Jordan Taylor and Max Angelelli delivered the car its first title in the final year of the GRAND-AM Rolex Series in 2013, and Joao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi opened the first year of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship on top last year.
Barbosa and Fittipaldi have a chance to repeat, while their new Action Express Racing teammates Eric Curran and Dane Cameron look for a title of their own, or the VisitFlorida.com Racing pair of Michael Valiante and Richard Westbrook looks to beat them both.
Westbrook and Valiante enter Petit Le Mans Powered by Mazda with a six-point lead over both of the Action Express pairings, 279-273. With a podium finish, those two will clinch regardless of what the Action Express pairings do.
In simplest terms, either of the Action Express pairings would need to win and hope their rivals would finish fourth or worse (points gap is seven from 35 to winning for 28 for fourth; all cars that start receive one point) to overcome the deficit.
Action Express can also take the title if one of its cars finishes second, but would need the VisitFlorida.com entry to end sixth or worse.
The full points system breakdown can be found here.
Westbrook and Valiante have positioned themselves for the title primarily by way of consistency, having finished in the top-five in each of the first nine races. They’ve won twice and have four additional third place results.
“For us, ’13 and ’14 were difficult years. We’ve come back stronger this year,” Westbrook said. “[For two races to go], two points between three of us shows you how even it is. It’ll go down to the last hour at Petit, which from a fan perspective should be intense.”
While Westbrook’s sports car career has taken him to past championships in the Porsche Carrera Cup in his native Great Britain, back-to-back titles in Porsche Supercup in 2006 and 2007, and the FIA GT2 Championship in 2009, he’s yet to win a major title in North America.
Valiante, a former open-wheel ace who’s made a nice sports car career for himself the last decade, is also in search of his first major sports car title.
Barbosa and Fittipaldi head to Petit Le Mans in search of their second win this year (Sebring) and seeking a bounce back after their worst race yet in the TUDOR Championship.
Sixth isn’t a bad result for most teams but for Barbosa and Fittipaldi, sixth at Circuit of The Americas two weeks ago occurred following a stop-and-hold plus-60-second penalty for an incident and cost them a lap, which ended their run of completing every lap since the series’ inception at the 2014 Rolex 24 at Daytona.
“You can’t win it tomorrow [at COTA], but you can dig a hole that will be hard to dig out of going into the last race,” Fittipaldi said going into COTA, which proved prescient.
For the team’s second car of Curran and Cameron, they’re perhaps the surprise entry into the title bout following two wins and nine top-five finishes in as many races.
Curran endured a tough 2014 season with the Whelen-backed Corvette DP under the Marsh Racing banner last year before the car joined Action Express.
“We had a bit of misfortune at Daytona and an issue at Sebring but since then, we’ve been strong as ever,” Curran said.
“It’s been a bit of a learning curve. You could say I drove last year in Prototype, but this year is the first real year.
“We’ve fit a lot of new puzzle pieces together, with new drivers, a second car and new personnel to help prep the car. I didn’t realize how strong we could be at this point a year ago.”
Cameron, meanwhile, seeks his second straight title in as many classes, after winning last year’s GT Daytona class championship with Turner Motorsport.
Adding to the potential storyline for him is that he has to find a way to beat his dad, Rick Cameron, an engineer for VisitFlorida.com. Steve Cameron is his uncle.
“It’s something that’s never happened before. We worked together when I won the Star Mazda championship in 2007, so that was neat,” Dane Cameron said.
“But since then we haven’t worked together in anything. It’s funny how it’s happened. He’s supposed to come to my house for Christmas, so we’ll see if he still does.”
Mike Rockenfeller (VisitFlorida.com), Sebastien Bourdais (No. 5 Action Express) and Max Papis (No. 31 Action Express) will all do their part to help as respective third drivers for this race.
The champion will take a Coyote chassis to the title; the chassis manufacturer has 16 overall wins and 44 podium finishes since 2009.
They’ll also be crowned the last TUDOR Prototype champions, with the series set to undergo another brand change next year as it becomes the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.