INDIANAPOLIS — Stretching fuel mileage to the absolute limit, Joao Barbosa won Friday’s Brickyard Grand Prix TUDOR United SportsCar Championship race in convincing fashion, driving the No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP to a 48.964-second victory over Scott Pruett, who had to settle for second place in the marquee sports car event for the third straight year.
When Pruett and Richard Westbrook brought their DP entries to pit road from second and third place, respectively, with eight minutes left in the two-hour, 45-minute race, the win was sealed for Barbosa and co-driver Christian Fittipaldi, who snatched the series lead from fourth-place finishers Jordan and Ricky Taylor.
Barbosa and Fittipaldi hold an unofficial two-point edge heading to the Aug. 8-10 weekend at Road America in the Prototype point standings.
“I was saving fuel the whole time,” Barbosa said of his long stint in the car. “The end was kind of easy, but to get there was so, so hard. It was unbelievable.”
Jonathan Bomarito and Kuno Wittmer picked up the first victory of the season for Dodge Viper SRT in the GT Le Mans class. Subbing for suspended Alex Tagliani, IndyCar regular Jack Hawksworth, in his first start in a sports car race, teamed with Chris Cumming to win the Prototype Challenge class in a 1-2 finish for RSR Racing.
Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 Italia drivers Alessandro Balzan and Jeff Westphal captured the GT Daytona class, beating Paul Miller Racing’s Christopher Haase and Bryce Miller to the finish line by more than a lap at the 2.439-mile road course.
Before Pruett pitted late, Barbosa was concerned about his own fuel situation.
“I kept asking the team, ‘How are we doing on fuel?’” Barbosa said. “And they said, ‘Don’t worry. Just keep doing what you’re doing. We should be fine.’ Luckily, we had a good gap and could keep the car out of trouble. Just a tremendous job by the team, giving us a car we could run at a good pace while still saving fuel…
“When the other guys pitted the last time, I could breathe a little bit.”