NASCAR & Auto Racing

Local motor sports notes: At 55, Scott Pruett eyes retirement

Said Auburn’s Scott Pruett: “I’m still fast, and I’m still having fun. But I’m 55 now.” Like most race car drivers, Pruett is on another one-year contract.
Said Auburn’s Scott Pruett: “I’m still fast, and I’m still having fun. But I’m 55 now.” Like most race car drivers, Pruett is on another one-year contract. The Associated Press

Though Scott Pruett isn’t ready to retire, the Auburn resident and Chip Ganassi Racing driver, who turned 55 in March, said he’s been thinking more about it lately.

“I started racing in 1968 on a go-kart track in Lodi,” Pruett said as he prepared for this weekend’s Monterey Grand Prix at Laguna Seca. “And I raced as a kid in the parking lots of the old McClellan Air Force Base. I’m still fast, and I’m still having fun. But I’m 55 now.”

Like most race car drivers, Pruett is on another one-year contract. He said he doesn’t want to linger in the sport, but he’s still getting results.

Pruett and his teammate, Sacramento’s Joey Hand, have moved up to third place in the IMSA Tudor United SportsCar Championship standings after a rough season debut at the Rolex Daytona 24, where Pruett, Hand and two two others finished 23rd because of mechanical problems. Pruett and Hand were second in Long Beach on April 18 and fourth in Sebring on March 21. Hand joined the team for the 2015 season.

“Joey is coming off a stint in Europe that wasn’t as good as he wanted,” Pruett said. “I’ve been down that road before. But he’s on board our team now and has raced with us before so it’s been easy to integrate. He’ll likely be my replacement when I retire.”

Pruett’s family recently spent a weekend at Knott’s Berry Farm with Hand’s family, Pruett said.

Pruett’s two daughters, Lauren and Taylor, are 26 and 17, and his son, Cameron, is 15, so the nest will be empty soon for Pruett and wife, Judy. The couple also operate Pruett Vineyard in Auburn and have been bottling wine for years, so a downshift will be easy for the five-time Grand-Am champion.

“My (last full season of racing) could be 2016 or perhaps 2017,” Pruett said. “I’ll continue to do the longer races for Chip. But I can see the end.”

Pruett said he’s motivated to win Daytona 24 Hours for a sixth time, which would break the record he shares with racing legend Hurley Haywood and establish a standard that would be difficult to surpass.

Larson supports Bradway Memorial

Elk Grove’s Kyle Larson has donated $500 for the Fast Time Award for Saturday’s 25th running of the Dave Bradway Jr. Memorial at Chico’s Silver Dollar Speedway. Larson finished second in the Bradway in 2010 behind Shane Stewart. Larson is co-owner of Stewart’s World of Outlaws sprint car.

Former Sacramento resident Kyle Hirst leads the King of the West 410 sprint car series, but Roseville’s Willie Croft likely will take over the top spot this weekend because Hirst is running with the Outlaws in Oklahoma.

Chico’s Jonathan Allard has won the event five times. Sean Becker of Roseville, the four-time and defending Silver Dollar Speedway track champion, and Grass Valley’s Jason Statler also are previous winners entered in Saturday’s race. Other locals in the field include Elk Grove’s Bobby McMahan, Roseville’s Colby Copeland and Fair Oak’s Chad Compton.

BMR drivers look to Tucson

Bill McAnally Racing’s Chris Eggleston is just two points behind Dalton Sargeant in the K&N Pro Series West standings after two races, entering Saturday’s Napa Auto Parts Wildcat 150 at Tucson (Ariz.) Speedway.

Sargeant, 17, a rookie who mostly races on the K&N Pro Series East circuit, won the season-opener at Kern County Raceway Park on March 28, and Eggleston won at Irwindale Speedway on April 11.

Saturday’s race is the first for the K&N Pro Series West at Tucson Speedway since 2001.

“Tucson has always been a special place for us, dating back to the Winter Heat events,” McAnally said in a release. “We’re excited about going back. We want to add to the success we’ve had there.”

Brandon McReynolds, BMR’s other full-time driver, has had to deal with some mechanical issues and is 18th in points, three spots behind Sacramento’s Jack Sellers.

Mark Billingsley covers local motor sports for The Bee. Reach him at editorwriter@att.net or @editorwriter001.

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