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Ganassi Hangs On For COTA TUSC Win; CORE Clinches PC Title

Ganassi, 8Star win COTA Prototype classes…

Photo: John Dagys

Photo: John Dagys

Scott Pruett has delivered Chip Ganassi Racing its third Prototype and overall win of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship season, its first since Long Beach in April, in Saturday’s Lone Star Le Mans at Circuit of the Americas. Pruett co-drove the winning No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing Riley-Ford with Memo Rojas.

Pruett took the lead on fuel strategy, as the car made one less pit stop (two to three) compared to eventual second through fourth place finishers. The car cut it so close, it ran out of fuel just before Turn 11 on the cool down lap.

READ: Viper Doubles Up in COTA GT TUSC Race

Once Pruett got out front, the veteran had to hold off remaining charges from both Joao Barbosa in the No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP and Alex Brundle in the No. 42 OAK Racing Ligier JS P2 Honda.

Brundle passed Barbosa late, and the Englishman closed down a 13-plus second deficit to Pruett. But due to traffic and running out of time, Brundle ended 2.3 seconds away from a debut win for the car he shared with Gustavo Yacaman, after another near faultless race.

Yacaman made contact with Ricky Taylor at the start in the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette DP but led for the majority of his stint, until he was contacted exiting Turn 1 by another Corvette DP, the No. 90 Spirit of Daytona entry driven by Michael Valiante. Valiante was issued a drive-through penalty for the contact, the first of four handed out during the race.

Meanwhile the Colombian handed off to Brundle at the second pit stop and needed a third for their final run to the finish. Brundle and Barbosa’s scrap in the waning stages was one of the highlights of the race.

P class points leaders Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi finished third.

The lone Extreme Speed Motorsports HPD ARX-03b entered in the TUDOR Championship this week, the No. 2 car of Johannes van Overbeek and Ed Brown, enjoyed a trouble-free run to fourth after Brown pitted earliest of all Prototype class cars to hand over to “JVO.” In a strategy similar to the pair’s win at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, van Overbeek could then push to the finish.

Michael Shank Racing posted its third top-five in the last four races with Ozz Negri and John Pew, and the pair in the No. 60 Riley-Ford mirrored the winning No. 01 in making only two stops.

8Star Motorsports delivered its second straight Prototype Challenge win with Sean Rayhall and Luis Diaz in the No. 25 Oreca FLM09, from pole. The win is 8Star’s second of the season as well, and closes them up within the Team Championship.

Rayhall rebounded from a mid-race spin at Lap 38, when he was contacted by Colin Braun in the No. 54 CORE autosport Oreca FLM09 at Turn 1.

Braun was issued a drive-through penalty for the contact. Still, he and Jon Bennett rebounded to second, and have unofficially clinched the PC class championship, with a points lead north of 40 before Petit Le Mans in two weeks. The max for a win is 35.

Starworks Motorsport rounded out the podium with Renger van der Zande and Mirco Schultis in the No. 8 Oreca FLM09, following a trouble-free drive.

The No. 52 PR1/ Mathiasen Motorsports entry of Gunnar Jeannette and Frankie Montecalvo was fourth, although that car’s race featured contact with the then-GT Daytona leading No. 23 Team Seattle/AJR Porsche 911 GT America driven by Ian James and Mario Farnbacher. The No. 23 was issued a drive-through for contact as well.

Hard luck fifth was the No. 08 RSR Racing Oreca FLM09 of Chris Cumming and Jack Hawksworth. Hawksworth inherited the PC class lead after the Rayhall/Braun contact, but had a pit lane issue on his final stop from the lead.  Hawksworth ground to a halt in pit lane, out of fuel, and was pushed into the pits to fall from the lead back to sixth.

RESULTS: Lone Star Le Mans 

Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno) is Sportscar365's North American Editor, focusing on coverage of the IMSA-sanctioned championships as well as Pirelli World Challenge. DiZinno also contributes to and other motorsports outlets. Contact Tony


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