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Pruett Takes Pole for TUSC at COTA

Scott Pruett takes pole for Saturday’s Lone Star Le Mans…

Photo: DarrenPierson.com

Photo: DarrenPierson.com

Scott Pruett continued to set the pace in the No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing Riley-Ford at the 3.427-mile Circuit of the Americas, securing the pole position for Saturday’s Lone Star Le Mans.

Pruett and co-driver Joey Hand had both set unofficial track records in the last two practice sessions, with Pruett’s Friday morning time of 1:57.366 standing as the best time of the day.

READ: Pilet Powers to Porsche’s Fourth Straight TUSC Pole at COTA

Times fell off a bit for Friday afternoon’s qualifying session in the 90-plus degree heat of the afternoon, but Pruett’s pace didn’t.

He set a best time of 1:58.441 to claim his first pole of the season and second in a row for the team, after Hand did so at Road America.

It’s Pruett’s first TUDOR United SportsCar Championship pole since Long Beach, 2014.

Meanwhile Michael Shank Racing made a strategic gamble to qualify Ozz Negri instead of John Pew ahead of Saturday’s race.

Negri, the No. 60 Ligier JS P2 Honda, adorned in a special tribute livery to the late Justin Wilson, clocked in second at 1:58.512, just 0.071 off the pace.

The decision to qualify Negri instead of Pew means the team will make two driver changes during Saturday’s two-hour, 40-minute race, and may be able to make strategic gains depending on yellows or fuel windows.

The four Corvette DP cars clocked in from third to sixth. The No. 5 Action Express Racing entry of Christian Fittipaldi was the best one.

It was a difficult session for the No. 90 VisitFlorida.com Racing Corvette DP of Michael Valiante, who struggled with mechanical woes, going through the pit lane and stopping at driver’s left, Turn 1 halfway in the session.

The two usual Prototype Challenge pole rivals – Chris Cumming and James French – again dueled for the top spot Friday at Circuit of the Americas.

But this time Cumming prevailed rather easily, for his second pole of the season and third of his TUDOR Championship career, in the No. 11 RSR Racing Oreca FLM09.

Cumming’s best lap was 2:02.222, more than four tenths clear of Matt McMurry, in the No. 85 JDC/Miller Motorsports Oreca FLM09.

McMurry clocked in at 2:02.697 for his second start with the team this year, having also finished on the podium at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in July.

French was unable to better third place in the No. 38 Performance Tech Motorsports car, with a best time of 2:03.586.

The top two cars in the PC standings – the No. 54 CORE autosport and No. 52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports entries qualified by Jon Bennett and Mike Guasch – clocked in fourth and sixth.

RESULTS: Qualifying

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 NBCSports.com and other motorsports outlets. Contact Tony

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