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Pruett and Hand Team to Take the Lone Star Le Mans

Pruett and Hand Team to Take the Lone Star Le Mans


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 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 andConor 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 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.

BMW Team RLL has secured a shock, late-race win at Circuit of The Americas with Dirk Werner and Bill Auberlen in the No. 25 BMW Z4 GTE.

The No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR had been poised to win its fourth straight race in the GT Le Mans class, but both it and the No. 912 car needed pit stops for splashes of fuel with under five minutes remaining, while running first and second.

Porsche's run of four consecutive victories had featured three from the factory Porsche North America team and one from Team Falken Tire, dating to Watkins Glen in June. BMW's win at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca with John Edwards and Lucas Luhr was the last non-Porsche win in class.

Both Patrick Pilet and Nick Tandy ran well in their stints. Pilet and Earl Bamber in the No. 912 car pitted early while Edwards, who started the No. 24 car, ran longer on the first stint before handing off to Luhr.

Two separate stops for tire changes, one for right side tires and another left, dropped that car back to seventh by the checkered flag.

Tandy took over the lead from Luhr just prior to the two-hour mark and looked set to continue his winning hot streak that had been the last three GTLM races, plus a race apiece in LMP1 and LMP2 in the FIA World Endurance Championship, before the final pit stop.

The stop promoted Werner and Auberlen to their second win of the year (Long Beach), with the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari F458 Italia of Giancarlo Fisichella and Pierre Kaffer able to rebound nicely from a last-place qualifying effort to end second.

The No. 911 Porsche of Tandy and Pilet finished third, ahead of the Falken Porsche and second factory Porsche. Both factory Corvette C7.Rs struggled, to end sixth and eighth.

Meanwhile the No. 33 Riley Motorsports Dodge Viper GT3-R won in GT Daytona for the second straight year, with Jeroen Bleekemolen and Ben Keating.

For Keating, it's his third straight win at COTA after also winning in the American Le Mans Series in GTC in 2013.

Bleekemolen got past Mario Farnbacher, who ran the majority of the race in the No. 23 Team Seattle/Alex Job Racing Porsche 911 GT America, on Lap 54 to emerge ahead after starting second.

It completed a comeback drive for the No. 33 Riley Motorsports Dodge Viper GT3-R , which along with the polesitting No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Audi R8 LMS were assessed stop-and-hold plus 60 second penalties for improper pit exits on their first pit stop.

Farnbacher lost second late in the race to the No. 97 Turner Motorsport BMW Z4 GT3 of Markus Palttala, who shared the car with Michael Marsal, then lost third to the Miller Audi of Christopher Haase on the final lap.

Haase and Dion von Moltke were third, with Farnbacher and Ian James fourth and the Park Place Motorsports Porsche 911 GT America of Spencer Pumpelly and Patrick Lindsey fifth.

The No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 Italia and No. 007 TRG-AMR Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 entries finished sixth and eighth after separate issues.

Townsend Bell, who shared with Bill Sweedler, collided with Joao Barbosa late in the race and was issued a drive-through penalty for avoidable contact. Meanwhile Kuno Wittmer pitted later than the rest of the GTD field and fell back in the car he shared with Christina Nielsen.

Both results tighten the championship chase heading to Petit Le Mans in two weeks.

In GT Le Mans, Pilet unofficially leads Auberlen and Werner by three points, 279-276, with the No. 3 Corvette C7.R pairing of Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia at 269 points and Fisichella and Kaffer at 266.

In GT Daytona, Nielsen unofficially leads von Moltke and Haase by three, and Bell and Sweedler by six (258-255-252).