Richard Westbrook takes Road Atlanta pole

BRASELTON, Ga. (AP) Richard Westbrook took the Prototype pole Friday for the IMSA Tudor United SportsCar Championship’s season-ending Petit Le Mans on Saturday at Road Atlanta.

The British driver turned a lap in 1 minute, 27.860 seconds – averaging 104.075 mph – around the 2.54-mile circuit to put the No. 90 Corvette DP in position to claim its first season title. Westbrook and co-driver Michael Valiante lead the Prototype standings by six points over defending champions Christian Fittipaldi and Joao Barbosa.

”I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t nice to get a pole, but with a 10-hour race it’s not as important,” said Westbrook, who also will be joined by Mike Rockenfeller in the No. 90 entry. ”There was a lot of moisture out there. Everyone was getting faster each lap so it was very important to keep going right until the end.”

Fittipaldi will start from the outside front row in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Corvette DP. IndyCar veteran Sebastian Bourdais will join Fittipaldi and Barbosa.

Joey Hand was third in Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates’ No. 01 Ford EcoBoost/Riley that he will share with Scott Pruett and IndyCar champion Scott Dixon.

Tom Kimber-Smith earned his first pole of the season in the Prototype Challenge class, running 1:32.378 (98.985 mph) in the No. 52 Cuttwood/Spyder ORECA FLM09 he will drive along with Mike Guasch and Andrew Palmer.

Earl Bamber qualified on the pole in GTLM class, but will start at the back following a chassis change. Cameron Lawrence earned the top spot in the GTD class.

Christina Nielsen, a point ahead in the GTD standings, will start eighth in her attempt to become the first female champion ever in national American sports car racing.