Scott Pruett ran off to an easy victory Saturday in the season-openi
LONG BEACH, Calif. (AP) _ Scott Pruett ran off to an easy victory Saturday in the season-opening Long Beach Trans-Am.
Pruett, the 1986 IMSA GTO champion, earned his first victory in the SCCA’s Bendix Trans-Am series.
He started from the pole position, but lost the lead to Roush Racing teammate Pete Halsmer on lap 19 of the 60-lap run through the streets of Long Beach. But Halsmer slowed with mechanical problems on lap 39 and Pruett went back on top to stay.
The winner’s Mercury Merkur XR4Ti averaged 69.498 mph. The only other driver on the lead lap at the end was 1986 IMSA GTU champion Tom Kendall, whose Mercury Capri was torn up in an early meeting with one of the concrete barriers that line the 1.67-mile circuit. Kendall wound up a distant 1 minute, 2.33 seconds behind.
Australian Bruce Jenner was third in a Porsche 944 Turbo, followed by the Chevrolet Camaro of Mark Pielstocker and Ken Murray’s Pontiac Firebird, which limped across the finish line with a flat tire.
The race was slowed by one full-course caution period. The yellow flag came out on lap 40 due to water on the track, which came from a nearby drainpipe that somehow became unplugged during the race.
The green flag came out again on lap 47 with Pruett several car lengths ahead of second-place Elliott Forbes-Robinson. But Forbes-Robinson, the 1982 Trans-Am champion, soon fell by the wayside with engine problems in his Porsche 944 Turbo and Pruett was in total control.
The inaugural Trans-Am event at Long Beach was run as a support event for Sunday’s Grand Prix of Long Beach Indy-car event.