Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Scott Pruett held off a furious late-race charge from Alex Brundle and Joao Barbosa to win the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship Lone Star Le Mans on Saturday at the Circuit of The Americas.
Pruett edged the Ligier JS P2/Honda of Brundle by 2.336 seconds at the finish of the 2-hour, 45-minute race. It was the third Prototype victory of the season for Pruett and co-driver Memo Rojas for Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates.
Pruett took the lead in the No. 01 Telcel Ford EcoBoost/Riley with 33 minutes remaining, then held on.
"I took some big chances at the end," said Pruett, who scored his 59th career victory in major sports car competition. "I knew they were coming, but when you see victory in your grasp, you take big chances. Sometimes, they pay off."
The decisive moment came with six minutes remaining when the leaders caught heavy GT traffic. Pruett found a way through, while Barbosa and Brundle battled side-by-side caught in the pack. By the time Brundle, who started from pole, passed Barbosa and they cleared the lapped cars, Pruett had the advantage he needed. It was all he had as the 54-year-old Californian ran out of fuel on his cool-down lap.
Sean Rayhall and Luis Diaz took their second consecutive Prototype Challenge victory in the No. 25 8Star Motorsports Takis/Speedsters ORECA FLM09, but Colin Braun and Jon Bennett clinched the drivers' championship with one race remaining with a second-place finish in the No. 54 CORE autosport ORECA FLM09.
Rayhall's win wasn't easy, either. He spun while leading with more than one hour remaining, but Braun was assessed a drive-through penalty following the incident. That gave the PC class lead to RSR Racing driver Jack Hawksworth, but he ran out of fuel entering pit road on lap 52, giving Rayhall the lead again, and he held on.
"That's why they call it endurance racing," said Rayhall, who scored his first victory at Virginia International Raceway one race ago. "We got spun out and came back to the front. Good strategy put us there. I can't put into words how excited we are."
Jonathan Bomarito won the GT Le Mans class in a one-two finish for SRT Motorsports.
With their second victory of the season, Bomarito and co-driver Kuno Wittmer unofficially took over the GTLM points lead, 300-293, over Corvette Racing's Antonio Garcia heading into in the season-ending Petit Le Mans powered by Mazda at Road Atlanta on Oct. 4.