Joey Hand. Getty Images

IMSA: Pruett, Hand control COTA race

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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 VisitFlorida.com 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.

Lewis Hamilton receives Daytona 500 invitation from Bubba Wallace

Lewis Hamilton Bubba Wallace
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Lewis Hamilton is a fan of the new NASCAR Cup Series team formed by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan to field a car for Bubba Wallace.

Will the six-time Formula One champion also be a fan in person at a NASCAR race in the near future?

Wallace is hoping so.

After Hamilton tweeted his support Tuesday morning about the news of a Hamlin-Jordan-Wallace team making its debut with the 2021 season, Wallace responded with a sly invitation to the Daytona 500.

Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

But it would seem fitting given that Hamilton and Wallace have been two of the world’s most outspoken Black athletes about the quest for diversity and racial justice. Hamilton recently reaffirmed his commitment to activism after his donning a Breonna Taylor shirt sparked an FIA inquiry.

The idea of Hamilton attending the season opener already had legs, too. The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver has expressed a desire to race the Daytona 500 after he has retired from Formula One.

He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.

Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it only would be fitting if Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — spent some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.

Jeff Gordon was flanked by Mario Andretti and Lewis Hamilton before the 2015 Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).