Pruett Earns Long Beach Pole

Joey Hand will co-drive the No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Prototype in 2015 with Scott Pruett, replacing Memo Rojas. (Al Steinberg Photo)
Scott Pruett will start from the pole for Saturday's TUDOR United SportsCar Champion event in Long Beach, Calif. (Al Steinberg Photo)
Scott Pruett will start from the pole for Saturday’s TUDOR United SportsCar Champion event in Long Beach, Calif. (Al Steinberg Photo)

LONG BEACH, Calif. – Scott Pruett, back on the Long Beach Street Circuit for the first time since 2006, captured the TOTAL Pole Award Friday for the Tequila Patrón Sports Car Showcase driving the No. 01 Telcel/Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Ford EcoBoost/Riley DP.

The one-hour, 40-minute event, the third race of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship season, is set for Saturday afternoon on the 11-turn, 1.968-mile temporary layout.

Pruett, a Long Beach winner in the Rolex Sports Car Series back in 2006, posted the qualifying session’s fastest lap on his last lap – 1 minute, 15.325 seconds (94.056), good for both the Prototype class and overall pole. It was just enough to survive Ozz Negri, who also was fastest on his final lap, 1:15.366 (94.005) in the No. 60 Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian Ford EcoBoost/Riley DP. The No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP driven by Christian Fittipaldi qualified third at 1:15.571 (93.750), also going fastest on his last lap.

The qualifying session, scheduled for 15 minutes, was red-flagged just before the 10-minute mark in the 15-minute session due to Ryan Dalziel’s No. 1 Tequila Patrón HPD ARX-03b/Honda from Extreme Speed Motorsports, which stopped on-course in turn six. Pruett had gone to the top of the lineup just prior to the stoppage. The session resumed a short time later for an approximate three-minute dash to the end.

“You had to get it right [quickly],” Pruett said. “As we all know, Long Beach is unforgiving, but for us, the car was good right off the trailer. And with limited track time (one day of practice) it really helped us that we rolled off the truck good.

“It was really close and I couldn’t be happier for [Negri]. It’s a Ford front row.”

Teams in the Prototype (P) and GT Le Mans (GTLM) classes had two practice sessions to prepare for qualifying. Those sessions were separated by seven-and-a-half hours on a jam-packed Grand Prix of Long Beach lineup including six other races.

Pruett – who will co-drive Saturday with longtime partner Memo Rojas – paced the P class with an early-morning effort of 1:16.441/92.683 mph, recorded on his final lap of the two-hour session. The evening practice was led by Fittipaldi with a lap of 1:16.081/93.122.