ELKHART LAKE, Wisc., Aug. 5, 2018–Ford Chip Ganassi Racing earned a hard-fought fourth IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship win in a row Sunday at Road America.
The 2-hour, 40-min. race looked promising from the start. Driver Dirk Müller earned his third-consecutive pole during qualifying Saturday in the No. 66 Ford GT. Teammate Ryan Briscoe qualified second in the No. 67 for an all-Ford front row at the green flag. Then the trouble began.
For the No. 66 car, leader in the championship points entering the race, bad luck came in the form of an issue with the right rear toe link that forced Müller to pit off-sequence for repairs. By that time, the No. 67 had already suffered damage to the left rear following a collision with a GTD car.
In spite of the damage from that collision and two that followed, the No. 67 couldn’t be stopped and driver Richard Westbrook was in perfect position at the end for the win. The No. 66 finished seventh.
“It’s just an incredible run we’re having right now,” Westbrook said. “Confidence is so high. The wins aren’t coming easy by any stretch of the imagination. We’re having to work for them. This is a track that really suits our car but it was tough at the end. The BMW was fast, but I guess they short-fueled too much. We’re just delighted to get the win. It’s such a great run for the whole program, Ford CGR. It’s a hell of a ride right now and we’re just enjoying every moment of it.”
With this victory, the championship points lead changes hands once again. Westbrook, Briscoe and the No. 67 team move to the top, while Hand, Müller and the No. 66 team are now third, just nine points behind their teammates.
Ford CGR has led the GTLM standings since the No. 67 car won the season-opener at the Rolex 24 At Daytona.
“Obviously, it was really bad luck for the 66 guys. It’s four in a row for the team, but this is how it’s been going. One car wins and the other car doesn’t score the points they need,” Briscoe said. “We’ve been going back and forth, which hasn’t been ideal, but the fact we’ve been able to compete for wins has been fantastic. As Rik (Richard) said, we always come to Road America with a lot of confidence. It’s a track that suits this car. It was great to lock out the front row with Dirk on pole. We executed today. Rik drove superbly. No mistakes. All day long, great strategy, great pitstops. Got it done.”
The team has five IMSA wins this year, with three for the No. 67 car and two for the No. 66.
“What a race car,” Müller said. “I was smiling lap by lap. It was probably one of our best cars ever. I was able to really control the lead for a long time in the beginning, but without any warning sign, we had issues. That’s a tough one on our side to swallow. The team did awesome. Good pit stops, good strategy. One of the best cars I’ve ever had, but at the same time our teammates won the fourth in a row. I think that’s the upside. That’s why you’re a team. It’s a big swing in the points for us right now, but we have three races to go. Today was really good for the team.”
Competition resumes for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season in two weeks at VIR.