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SEP 9, 2018 | FORD PERFORMANCE STAFF

Fight for First GTLM Championship Goes Down to Last Race of the Year for Ford GT

Ford GT3

MONTEREY, Calif. – Ford Chip Ganassi Racing’s fight for its first IMSA GTLM championship title will go down to the final race of the year.

The team finished sixth and seventh at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca on Sunday after separate on-track incidents sent both Ford GTs to the garage for repairs.

The first happened right at the drop of the green flag. A prototype spun at the start of the race, right in front of the GTLM field. Driver Dirk Müller and the No. 66 Ford GT, starting on the outside pole at p2, were collected in the incident. Müller eventually briefly rejoined the race after diligent repairs by the crew before retiring with an hour to go in the 2-hour, 40-minute contest.

“What a drama at the start,” Müller said. “Basically, I had the perfect start and I got penalized for it because I was right at the back of the prototypes there and there was nowhere to go. I was really happy with my start and had a smile on my face, and then the prototypes were wrecking in front of me and I had nowhere to go. The right side was blocked and there was a little gate on the left. I thought I could make it and it was my only hope. Our Ford CGR guys did a great job getting us back out.”

Müller and co-driver Joey Hand finished seventh.

Later, on-track contact with another car sent the No. 67 back for repairs to the steering. Drivers Richard Westbrook and Ryan Briscoe finished sixth in the race and are nine points behind the leaders entering the 10-hour season-ender, Petit Le Mans. The No. 66 car is third in the standings, 15 points behind. Thanks to five team wins so far this year, Ford has all but clinched the manufacturers' title.

“The guys did a great job getting the car back out, so we got some points,” Westbrook said. “The car was just really, really fast, so it’s a shame, because we wanted to take the fight to the points leaders and we weren’t able to do that.”