(Photo Courtesy IMSA)

The teams will be faced with challenges they didn’t encounter at Daytona or Sebring when they head to the twisty streets of this weekend. (Photo Courtesy IMSA)

By IMSA Public Relations:

Prototype teams in the will have a short window in which to excel, in Saturday’s Tequila Patron Sports Car Showcase at Long Beach (LIVE, FOX Sports 1, 6 p.m. ET).

Four of the teams will race a Prototype for the first time on the 1.968-mile circuit, while four additional teams raced there only in 2006. The team with a leg up on the experience side is Extreme Speed Motorsports, which raced its two Tequila Patrón HPD ARX-03b/Hondas at the circuit last year, finishing 1-2 in the P2 class of the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrόn.

“As simple as it sounds, it’s going to be a fast weekend,” said Elton Sawyer, director of race operations for Action Express Racing, one of the first-time teams at Long Beach with the No. 5 Corvette DP for Christian Fittipaldi and Joao Barbosa. “Your decision making is going to have to be quick and precise. You’re not going to get second chances.”

OAK Racing, Mazda/SpeedSource and Marsh Racing also are competing for the first time in addition to Action Express.

Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian, Wayne Taylor Racing and Spirit of Daytona raced a DP at Long Beach in 2006.

“I don’t think there’s anything we learned [in 2006, in a GRAND-AM Rolex Series event] that will help us now,” said Wayne Taylor, whose team finished eighth that year. “Our team has changed dramatically since then, and the car is very different.”

Sawyer said that Action Express ran a program of “What if?” simulations to help in its decision making.

“We never ran a race this short, so a lot of things are going to happen quickly. We need to learn as much as we can in Friday morning’s two-hour session,” Sawyer said.

Team owner Ted Marsh will come to Long Beach with two setups ready for the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Corvette DP for Eric Curran and Boris Said.

“I’m feeling that we want a softer setup than we used at Sebring, while our engineers recommend a similar setup,” explained the car owner. “We’ve got two alternatives that we’re going to try in the opening practice, starting with the one the engineers recommend. We’ve set the car up both ways at our shop and it will only take about five minutes to make the switch from one to the other.”

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