Chip Ganassi Racing’s full-season pairing has finally broken through for its first win of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship season, following a dominant drive from both Scott Pruett and Joey Hand in Saturday’s Lone Star Le Mans at Circuit of The Americas.
It’s the first win for Pruett and Hand as teammates and the first for the No. 01 team since this race last year, when Pruett and Memo Rojas captured the checkered flag.
Pruett, the polesitter, controlled his opening stint of 26 laps and just over an hour before handing off to Hand in the No. 01 Riley-Ford.
From that point, the only time the No. 01 car was outside the top three was during the two pit stop cycles.
Hand was third behind Ricky Taylor in the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette DP and surprise race leader Rojas in the DeltaWing DWC13 coupe before Hand got past both cars on Lap 55.
The ultimate move for the win came when Hand passed Taylor on the inside into Turn 1 on Lap 55. He then checked out from there and won by an ultimate margin of victory of 16.910 seconds.
Taylor and brother Jordan brought the No. 10 car home in second, following a trouble free day and their first podium finish since winning at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.
Meanwhile the points-leading No. 90 VisitFlorida.com Racing Corvette DP of Michael Valiante and Richard Westbrook came home in third, to extend their points lead after both Action Express Racing Corvettes had a rare day of hitting trouble.
Second-hour contact between Dane Cameron in the No. 31 car and Renger van der Zande in the No. 8 Starworks Motorsport Oreca FLM09 past Turn 9 netted Cameron a drive-through penalty, and the car started by Eric Curran fell outside the top five.
The No. 5 Action Express Racing car of Joao Barbosa also received a penalty, a stop-and-hold plus 60-second penalty, for contact with Townsend Bell in the No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 Italia at Turn 11.
The two had hit each other down the straight prior to the contact at corner entry.
It dropped the No. 5 car to sixth in class, 10th overall and No. 31 car to fifth in class and overall.
Crucially for the No. 5 car, the penalty cost it one lap, and ended its streak of all laps completed since the TUDOR Championship inception in 2014.
Michael Shank Racing’s strategy to qualify and start Ozz Negri in the No. 60 Ligier JS P2 Honda didn’t exactly go to plan.
Negri ran more than the first hour before handing off to John Pew, before Pew was issued a drive-through penalty for avoidable contact with one of the Porsche 911 RSRs.
Pew ran his requisite 30 minutes before handing back to Negri, who brought the car home in fourth, albeit only just shy of a podium after a late-race charge against Westbrook.
The DeltaWing briefly led and had an outside shot at a podium before Rojas went in too deep at Turn 11, into the gravel. The car needed a late-race splash-and-dash to make it home, ending seventh in class.
CORE autosport survived for its second Prototype Challenge win of the year, first since Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, courtesy of a clean and untroubled drive from Jon Bennett and Colin Braun in the No. 54 Oreca FLM09.
However, Braun ran a great race after losing power steering 15 minutes into his stint, and took the race lead from Mikhail Goikhberg for the final time on Lap 58.
Goikhberg, in the No. 85 JDC/Miller Motorsports car, then had a fight on his hands to hold off more experienced pros Bruno Junqueira, Tom Kimber-Smith and Conor Daly, respectively.
While the Canadian did his best, all three moved past. Junqueira ended second in the No. 11 RSR Racing entry he shared with polesitter Chris Cumming, with Daly and James French third in the No. 38 Performance Tech Motorsports car despite two spins.
The VisitFlorida.com pair of Westbrook and Valiante unofficially leads both Action Express pairings by six heading to Petit Le Mans.
CORE’s win in PC extends Braun and Bennett’s gap to 12 points over Tom Kimber-Smith and Mike Guasch, who finished fourth.
RESULTS: Lone Star Le Mans