IMSA: Pruett, Hand control COTA race

Joey Hand. Getty Images

AUSTIN, Texas – The dominant car all weekend, the No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing Riley-Ford, has finally won its first race of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship season.

Scott Pruett led early, then Joey Hand led often after taking over, as the two won the No. 01 car’s first race since Circuit of The Americas last year.

The team also won the season-opening Rolex 24 at Daytona with its IndyCar and NASCAR full-season pilots, Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan, Jamie McMurray and Kyle Larson.

The No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette DP of Jordan and Ricky Taylor ended second, while the No. 90 Racing Corvette DP of Michael Valiante and Richard Westbrook ended in third.

Westbrook held off the No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Ligier JS P2 Honda of Ozz Negri, who co-drove with John Pew, for the final podium position.

Negri charged back following a drive-through incurred for hitting a GT car; it was nearly a dream result for the car that was adorned in a special tribute livery to the late Justin Wilson, who was honored during pre-race activities.

CORE autosport’s pairing of Colin Braun and Jon Bennett won in Prototype Challenge and are closer to that class title as a result.

The No. 911 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR was well positioned to win its fourth consecutive race in GT Le Mans, but its utterly dominant drive by polesitter Patrick Pilet and Nick Tandy went for naught after both it and the No. 912 Porsche needed a splash for fuel inside the final five minutes.

It handed the win to the No. 25 BMW Team RLL BMW Z4 GTE of Dirk Werner and Bill Auberlen, aiding that car’s championship chances.

Meanwhile the No. 33 Riley Motorsports Dodge Viper GT3-R of Jeroen Bleekemolen and Ben Keating won in GT Daytona, overcoming an earlier stop-and-hold plus 60-second penalty for improper pit exit.

The No. 33 pairing also won last year and Keating won in the American Le Mans Series GTC class in 2013.

The series heads to Petit Le Mans for the season finale at Road Atlanta in two weeks.

Ryan Hunter-Reay hired as replacement for Conor Daly at Ed Carpenter Racing

Ryan Hunter-Reay Carpenter
Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Ryan Hunter-Reay was named to replace Conor Daly in Ed Carpenter Racing’s No. 20 Dallara-Chevrolet, starting in the NTT IndyCar Series event next week at Road America.

Hunter-Reay is the 2012 series champion and 2014 Indianapolis 500 winner. He finished 11th for Dreyer & Reinbold last month in the 107th Indy 500, his first start since the 2021 season finale. He drove full time for Andretti Autosport from 2010-21.

“We need to improve our competitiveness and I wanted to add a fresh perspective from a driver like Ryan who has a massive amount of experience and success as well as a reputation as a team leader. I am excited to welcome Ryan to the team,” team owner Ed Carpenter said in a team release. “We have worked together in the past as teammates and he tested for ECR at Barber Motorsports Park in October 2021, where he made an immediate impact as we were able to qualify one of our cars on the pole following that test. I am confident that his experience and technical abilities will be an asset to ECR as we move forward toward our goals as a team.”

Hunter-Reay has 18 IndyCar victories, most recently in 2018. He also is a winner in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, having been a part of winning entries in the 2020 Twelve Hours of Sebring and 2018 Petit Le Mans. Last year, he was an endurance driver for Cadillac Racing while being on standby for Chip Ganassi Racing.

He replaces Daly, whose departure was announced a day earlier in what the driver and team said was a mutual decision.

“I was surprised when I got the call from Ed,” Hunter-Reay said in a team release. “He described how frustrated he was that his team has not been able to realize its potential despite their efforts, investments, as well as technical and personnel changes over the past few years and asked for my help. Ed and I are very close friends and have been for a long time. I’ve worked with the team in the past and they are a very talented group with high expectations and a committed partner in BITNILE.COM.

“This will certainly be a challenge for me as well. It’s a tough situation jumping in a car in the middle of the season without any testing in what I believe to be the most competitive series in the world. Certainly, part of my motivation in saying ‘yes’ to Ed is the great challenge ahead. The last time I turned right driving an NTT IndyCar Series car was in October of 2021 with this team at Barber. However, I remain very confident in both my driving and technical abilities and believe by working with the talented people at ECR and Team Chevy, while representing BITNILE.COM, we will make progress. I am going to do everything I can do to help the team achieve its long-term objectives.”

Said Milton “Todd” Ault, the chairman of sponsor “It is great for to be aligned with an Indy 500 Winner and an NTT IndyCar Series champion. I have followed Ryan’s career for years and I am confident he will challenge the entire ECR team to perform at higher levels. I wish everyone luck at Road America.”