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Fittipaldi, Barbosa score IMSA DP Indianapolis victory

By IMSA Media
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Christian Fittipaldi and Joao Barbosa raced to the Daytona Prototype victory in the Action Express Racing Corvette in the IMSA Brickyard Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. / Photo: Richard Dole LAT Photo USA for IMSA
INDIANAPOLIS, IN — The No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP team used outright speed to take the lead in Friday’s Brickyard Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and then used pit strategy to put an exclamation point on a day that ended with drivers Christian Fittipaldi and Joao Barbosa kissing the circuit’s famed “yard of bricks.”

Barbosa took the Prototype lead from Jordan Taylor with 48 minutes remaining and never looked back, maintaining a healthy lead for much of his stint while also conserving fuel. When the Prototype contenders hit pit road with less than 20 minutes remaining, Barbosa was able to stay out and took the checkered flag 48.964 seconds ahead of the No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing Ford EcoBoost/Riley DP of Scott Pruett.

It was the second TUDOR United SportsCar Championship victory of the season for Fittipaldi and Barbosa after the duo opened the season with a victory in the Rolex 24 At Daytona. For Fittipaldi, the win came 19 years after he made his Indianapolis 500 debut in 1995, finishing second and earning Rookie of the Year honors in the event.

“Today was a nice win, even if it was 19 years after that,” Fittipaldi said. “It was a perfect day. All of the stars aligned, the team did an excellent job and hats off to them. I’m happy for the win, but I’m also happy to be in the lead of the championship again and still in the hunt.”

Pruett was one of the drivers who was forced to pit road for fuel in the closing stages of the two-hour, 45-minute race. He pitted the No. 01 machine with eight laps remaining, but as the other contenders followed suit, Pruett cycled back to a second-place finish for him and co-driver Sage Karam.

Karam, who was subbing in the event for regular driver Memo Rojas, had an up-and-down opening stint. Going into the first turn on the opening lap, Karam made contact with another Prototype, triggering a multi-car spin. It didn’t take long for Karam to settle into a groove, though, and he was able to drive his way back through the field, eventually taking the class lead.

The No. 90 VISITFLORIDA.com/GoPro Corvette DP driven by Richard Westbrook and Michael Valiante finished third to continue a streak of four consecutive podium finishes for the team dating back to Detroit Belle Isle in May.

The Prototype class next races in the Continental Tire Road Race Showcase Aug. 10 at Road America.

Jack Hawksworth and Bruno Junqueira may be better known in Indianapolis for their starts in the Indianapolis 500, but the two battled it out Friday for the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship Prototype Challenge (PC) class win in the Brickyard Grand Prix.

While Junqueira — the 2002 Indianapolis 500 pole winner — led much of the final stint, it was Hawksworth who made the winning pass with three minutes remaining in the No. 08 AutomaxUSA.com ORECA FLM09 started by co-driver Chris Cumming.

“The last 45 minutes were some of the most fun I’ve had in a race car, to be honest,” said Hawksworth, who finished 20th in the Indianapolis 500 this season, but finished seventh on the same IMS road-course layout in the IndyCar Grand Prix of Indianapolis in May. “I had a great battle with Bruno, fighting through the traffic. I enjoyed every minute of it. It’s a great circuit and I enjoyed it. To finally get a win here, it feels awesome.”

Junqueira and co-driver Duncan Ende made it a 1-2 finish for RSR Racing by finishing second.

It was a surprisingly quiet day for the points-leading CORE autosport duo of Colin Braun and Jon Bennett, who drove to a third-place finish, their fifth podium finish in six starts this season. The co-drivers still maintain a healthy points lead in the PC class after winning four races so far this season.

SRT Motorsports drivers Jonathan Bomarito and Kuno Wittmer stood atop the Indianapolis Motor Speedway podium after scoring the first TUDOR United SportsCar Championship GT Le Mans (GTLM) class victory for the Dodge Viper SRT GTS-R on Friday in the Brickyard Grand Prix.

Bomarito qualified the car third and yielded to Wittmer to start the race. With 44 minutes elapsed in the two-hour and 45-minute race, Bomarito took over behind the wheel. Just over an hour later, Bomarito passed Nick Tandy in the Porsche 911 RSR for the lead and held it until the checkered flag.

“I was second in 2012, and I’ve got to tell you, I was pretty jealous watching those guys kiss the bricks,” said Bomarito. “To come back here and experience that first hand with the team…everybody that is part of this team was out there kissing the bricks. I hope, and I know, it drives everyone to push even harder between now and the race at Road America.”

“Everything is coming together ever so slowly and it’s starting to show. The last two or three races you think, ‘Can we keep this momentum going?’ That’s always the question and you always try to work harder,” said Wittmer. “You don’t get to kiss the bricks every day.”

Patrick Long and Michael Christensen put Porsche North American on the podium with a third-place run in their No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR, finishing just 0.348 seconds out of second.

Formula 1 veteran Giancarlo Fisichella earned the No. 62 Ferrari F458 Italia its first GTLM pole on Thursday and teamed with Pierre Kaffer to finish second for Risi Competizione. During his run, Fisichella turned a new race lap record of 1:26.846.

Fisichella surrendered the lead to John Edwards just eight minutes into the race, but battled back into the lead 15 minutes later. He would give it back up for good while pitting under yellow at the 48-minute mark.

Bomarito and Wittmer had been slowly working their way up the podium in recent races after finishing third at Watkins Glen International and second at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.

“It was very special. It’s great momentum, we have three podiums in a row,” added Bomarito.

The top seven GTLM cars finished on the same lap.

Alessandro Balzan and Jeff Westphal duplicated their results from Detroit Belle Isle in May by winning the GT Daytona (GTD) class for the second victory of the year in the No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 Italia.

Westphal held the lead with the Ferrari briefly while under caution before he turned over the wheel to Balzan at the one-hour mark. On the seventh and final class lead change of the race, Balzan passed James Davison’s No. 007 TRG Aston Martin V12 Vantage with 36 minutes remaining.

“It was the perfect race,” Balzan said. “Yesterday we had a very hard day because we had problems with the setup during qualifying, but I knew that the car could be very fast. The stop was certainly the key how we won today. This year we don’t have the fastest car out there.”

“We pushed all the way to the last minute. We tried to make our way up the field when we could,” added Westphal. “It’s probably one of the more historic wins I’ve had in my career. It’s a really, really nice feeling to win and kiss the bricks.”

Christopher Haase and Bryce Miller matched their best finish of the season with a second-place finish in their No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Audi R8 LMS. Miller and Haase also finished second at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in May.

Jeroen Bleekemolen and Ben Keating, victorious in the most recent race at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, added a third manufacturer to the podium with a third-place finish in the No. 33 Riley Motorsports Dodge Viper SRT GT3-R. Bleekemolen crossed the line 6.772 seconds behind Haase.

Townsend Bell and Bill Sweedler unofficially retain the points lead, finishing just 1.462 seconds off the podium. The No. 555 AIM Autosport Ferrari 458 Italia rebounded from a 10th-place at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park to finish fourth.

The next race for the TUDOR Championship will be the Continental Tire Road Race Showcase at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin on Sunday, August 10.
Associated Categories: Sports News, Professional Sports, NASCAR

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