Austin United SportsCar: Ganassi win boosts Pruett/Hand title bid

Chip Ganassi Racing's Joey Hand and Scott Pruett took a comfortable victory in the United SportsCar Championship race at Austin to keep their title ambitions alive

Austin United SportsCar: Ganassi win boosts Pruett/Hand title bid

Both Hand and Pruett led intermittently throughout the race in their Riley DP and ultimately romped home to a comfortable winning margin of 16.910 seconds ahead of Jordan and Ricky Taylor.

Having claimed pole on Friday, Pruett led away at the start - although he only secured his lead on the exit of the first corner, ahead of a fast-starting Michael Valiante.

Jordan Taylor quickly snatched Valiante's second place into the stadium section, but despite staying with Pruett was unable to make a similar move for the lead of the race.

The leading duo stayed together before a caution period ensued, with Pruett and Oswaldo Negri Jr opting to stay out on track, while Taylor and the remainder of the Prototype field headed for the pits.

Despite the two different strategies, Hand retained the overall lead after taking over from Pruett and, even with the intervention of a second safety car, looked set for victory into the final hour of the race.

That was briefly jeopardised within three quarters of an hour of the finish, as Hand, pitting a lap later than Taylor, emerged in third after his team opted to fit new tyres to his car.

But after setting the fastest lap of the race, a 1m58.616s, Hand quickly caught up to Ricky Taylor and Memo Rojas - who had assumed the lead in the DeltaWing by staying out as others pitted - before overtaking both on lap 54.

With fresh rubber fitted, Hand eased away from Taylor after the latter too had overtaken Rojas to retain a mathematical chance of clinching the championship at Road Atlanta in two weeks' time.

Behind the Taylor pair, Rojas had been set to claim a podium for himself and Katherine Legge before a late lock-up and trip through the gravel dropped him down the order.

That allowed championship leaders Richard Westbrook and Valiante to claim the final podium position after Westbrook resisted late pressure from Negri.

The #31 Action Express car of Eric Curran and Dane Cameron had been in contention for victory in the first half of the race, but a drive-through penalty following contact with PC driver Renger van der Zande put pay to their chances as they finished fifth.

The polesitting RSR Racing car of Chris Cumming/Bruno Junqueira and Mikhail Goikhberg/Matt McMurray's JDC/Miller Motorsports ORECA looked the early protagonists for PC class honours, but Colin Braun drove a tremendous second stint for the CORE Autosport team to claim what was ultimately a comfortable victory alongside Jon Bennett.

Matters looked settle in the GTLM class with Nick Tandy leading in the closing stages, but he and Porsche partner Patrick Pilet were forced to pit with just two laps remaining to take fuel, handing honours to the Team RLL BMW Z4 GTE of Bill Auberlen and Dirk Werner.

In the GTD class, Dodge pair Jeroen Bleekemolen and Ben Keating edged out Markus Palttala and his Turner BMW team-mate Michael Marsal after Townsend Bell was forced to serve a drive-through penalty for contact with Prototype driver Joao Barbosa - who in turn was penalised for retaliating - and previous leader Kuno Wittmer pitted.

RESULTS - 73 LAPS:

Pos Class Driver Team Car Gap
1 P J.Hand, S.Pruett Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Riley/Ford 2h41m07.039s
2 P R.Taylor, J.Taylor Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette/Chevrolet 16.910s
3 P R.Westbrook, M.Valiante visitflorida.com Racing Corvette/Chevrolet 44.212s
4 P J.Pew, O.Negri Michael Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian Ligier/HPD 44.575s
5 P E.Curran, D.Cameron Action Express Racing Corvette/Chevrolet 1m06.753s
6 PC J.Bennett, C.Braun CORE Autosport ORECA/Chevrolet 1m28.158s
7 PC B.Junqueira, C.Cumming RSR Racing ORECA/Chevrolet 1m53.822s
8 PC J.French, C.Daly Performance Tech Motorsports ORECA/Chevrolet 1m57.517s
9 PC M.Guasch, T.K.-Smith PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA/Chevrolet 1m58.239s
10 P J.Barbosa, C.Fittipaldi Action Express Racing Corvette/Chevrolet 1 Lap
11 P M.Rojas, K.Legge Claro / TracFone DeltaWing Racing DeltaWing/Elan 1 Lap
12 GTLM B.Auberlen, D.Werner BMW Team RLL BMW 1 Lap
13 GTLM P.Kaffer, G.Fisichella Risi Competizione Ferrari 1 Lap
14 PC M.Goikhberg, M.McMurry JDC-Miller Motorsports ORECA/Chevrolet 1 Lap
15 GTLM N.Tandy, P.Pilet Porsche North America Porsche 1 Lap
16 GTLM B.Sellers, W.Henzler Team Falken Tire Porsche 1 Lap
17 GTLM J.Bergmeister, E.Bamber Porsche North America Porsche 1 Lap
18 GTLM J.Magnussen, A.Garcia Corvette Racing Chevrolet 1 Lap
19 GTLM J.M.Edwards, L.Luhr BMW Team RLL BMW 1 Lap
20 GTLM O.Gavin, T.Milner Corvette Racing Chevrolet 1 Lap
21 PC R.van der Zande, M.Hedlund Starworks Motorsport ORECA/Chevrolet Not running
22 GTD B.Keating, J.Bleekemolen Riley Motorsports Dodge 4 Laps
23 GTD M.Marsal, M.Palttala Turner Motorsport BMW 4 Laps
24 GTD C.Haase, D.von Moltke Paul Miller Racing Audi 4 Laps
25 GTD I.James, M.Farnbacher Team Seattle/Alex Job Racing Porsche 4 Laps
26 GTD P.Lindsey, S.Pumpelly Park Place Motorsports Porsche 4 Laps
27 GTD B.Sweedler, T.Bell Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 4 Laps
28 GTD D.Knox, M.Goossens Lone Star Racing Dodge 4 Laps
29 GTD C.Nielsen, K.Wittmer TRG-AMR Aston Martin 4 Laps
30 GTD C.MacNeil, L.Keen Alex Job Racing Porsche 5 Laps
31 GTD R.Mason, P.Kleinubing Compass360 Racing Audi 5 Laps
32 GTD M.Vess, J.Hart Flying Lizard Motorsports Audi 7 Laps
33 P T.Nunez, J.Bomarito Mazda Motorsports Mazda Not running
34 GTD J.Potter, A.Lally Magnus Racing Porsche 27 Laps
35 PC D.Yount, R.Lewis BAR1 Motorsports ORECA/Chevrolet Not running
36 P T.Long, J.Miller Speedsource Mazda Not running
37 PC T.Slusher, J.Falb BAR1 Motorsports ORECA/Chevrolet Not started
38 PC A.Popow, S.Rayhall Starworks Motorsport ORECA/Chevrolet Not started


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Austin United SportsCar: Scott Pruett puts Ganassi on pole

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