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Corvette wins Prototype class at Indianapolis

— 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” after their second TUDOR United SportsCar Championship victory of the season.

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.”

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.

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.

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.”

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.

Jack Hawksworth and Bruno Junqueira may be better known in Indianapolis for their starts in the Indianapolis 500, but the two battled it out for the 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.