Joey Hand scored his first TUDOR series victory and teammate Scott Pruett repeated as the Prototype winner in the Lone Star Le Mans at Circuit of the Americas. The pair drove Ganassi Racing’s No. 01 Ford EcoBoost Riley DP to a dominant 16.910-second victory over brothers Ricky and Jordan Taylor in the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette DP.
Ganassi’s turbocharged Prototype ruled the 11th round of the TUDOR Championship series, running the fastest laps in two of the three practice sessions, winning the overall pole, clocking the quickest lap of the race, and leading 59 of 73 laps.
“We knew we had a fast race car so we tried to get out in front and stay in front,” said Hand. “That’s what we do best. When you have a good race car it makes everything a lot easier.”
“It’s been a tough season, without a doubt,” added Pruett, who won last year at COTA with Memo Rojas as his co-driver. “Coming here, everything came together.”
Pruett started on the pole and led the first hour before handing off to Hand in the first round of pit stops. Hand emerged in fifth, but regained the lead 22 minutes later when Christian Fittipaldi pitted. He took four new tires in the last pit stop, while his rivals opted for fuel only. Hand chased down his challengers and then pulled away handily in the final 35 minutes.
Penalties were the undoing of several competitors and championship contenders. The No. 60 Ligier-Honda of Ozz Negri and John Pew, the No. 31 Corvette DP of Eric Curran and Dane Cameron, and the No. 5 Corvette DP of Joao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi were all assessed penalties by IMSA officials for various on-track transgressions.
In contrast, the runner-up Taylor brothers enjoyed a relatively uneventful run. The championship-leading duo of Richard Westbrook and Michael Valiante finished third after Westbrook held off a determined Ozz Negri in the closing laps. Westbrook and Valiante will take a six-point lead in the standings into the season finale at Road Atlanta in two weeks.
John Bennett and Colin Braun raced to a 25-second victory in the Prototype Challenge class despite a power steering malfunction in their No. 54 CORE Autosport Oreca FLM09. The pair tallied their sixth PC victory and increased their lead in the championship race to 12 points going into the season-ending Petit Le Mans.
The PC pole-winning No 11 RSR Racing Oreca of Bruno Junqueira and Chris Cumming finished second, and the Conor Daly/James French No. 38 Performance Tech Motorsports entry was third.