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USCC: Brickyard – Barbosa, Fittipaldi win; Viper takes GT victory

Entering Indy, Wayne Taylor Racing (Jordan and Ricky Taylor) had a 5-point lead in the standings over Action Express (Joao Barbosa, Christian Fittipaldi), both using Corvette DPs. Gustavo Yacaman was 10 points back in the OAK Racing Morgan-Nissan, followed by Michael Valiante and Richard Westbrook driving the Spirit of Daytona Corvette DP. A race win is worth 35 points.

Indy 500 rookie 19-year old Sage Karam replaced Memo Rojas as Scott Pruett’s co-driver in the Chip Ganassi Racing #01 Ford Riley, Rojas have aggravated a back injury in a heavy crash at the previous event at Mosport.

Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen (#3 Corvette Racing C7.R) came into the Brickyard with four straight wins and a 19-point lead in the GT Le Mans standings over both Bill Auberlen and Andy Priaulx (#55 BMW Team RLL Z4.R) and Dominic Farnbacher and Marc Goossens (#91 SRT Motorsports Viper GTS-R).

The two Extreme Speed Motorsports XXX XX started on the front row, Scott Sharp on pole in the #1 with Ed Brown next to him and Yacaman lining up third. Karam, however, made a spectacular cut to the inside avoiding Fittipaldi going into Turn 1, locking up his brakes and running across the grass, while Yacaman was turned around by Fittipaldi entering the corner and Sharp moved wide to avoid the action.

Sharp and Fittipaldi moved past Karam into first and second, with Action Express taking the point in the next series of turns. Westbrook ran third down the back straight, followed by Karam. Yacaman got back on track from the grass at the rear of the GT field.

Formula 1 veteran Giancarlo Fisichella (Risi Competizione Ferrari 458 Italia) led GT from the pole, with John Edwards (#56 BMW) in second and Priaulx in third. With 2 hr 31 min left in the 2:45-race the BMWs moved past Fisichella after he locked up his brakes and went into the grass going into Turn 1.

A full-course caution came out at 2:27 with Farnbacher having lost a door. Fittipaldi led Karam and Valiante at the restart, with Sharp in P4. Within minutes, however, Sharp had fallen to sixth Meanwhile, the #3 GTLM Corvette got turned around in the infield, with a second caution waving at 2:20 to clean up the mess from the subsequent collisions.

Karam challenged Fittipaldi for the lead going into Turn 1 on the restart, but Fittipaldi held the spot, Valiante still running third.

Caution No. 3 came out when Paul Dalla Lana (Turner Motorsports BMW Z4) got turned fighting for the GT Daytona lead. The leaders pitted near the 2:04 mark under the yellow, Barbosa taking over for Fittipaldi. Action Express kept the lead, but Yacaman moved into second followed by Karam.

Barbosa passed Jordan Taylor for lead with 48 min left and remained on track when the rest of the leaders pitted with less than 20 min to go to secure the win, finishing 48.964 sec ahead of Pruett. Spirit of Daytona came in third, Westbrook and Valiante’s fourth consecutive podium finish.

Fittipaldi’s win came 19 years after his Indy 500 debut, where he finished second and won rookie-of-the-year.

Jonathan Bomarito and Kuno Wittmer took the GTLM victory in the #93 Viper, Bomarito passing Nick Tandy in the #912 Porsche North America 911 RSR with about an hour left in the race and holding on to the lead for the duration. Fisichella and co-driver Pierre Kaffer finished second, 0.348 sec ahead of Patrick Long and Michael Christensen in the #911 Porsche.

The victory was Bomarito and Wittmer’s third straight podium, following P3 at Watkins Glen and P2 at Mosport.

Posted in: Sports
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