ELKHART LAKE, Wisc. – For the first time all season, a podium finish felt like a disappointment as a win just slipped through the fingers of the No. 67 Ford GT team of Ford Chip Ganassi Racing.
Co-drivers Richard Westbrook and Ryan Briscoe, who were set to start p3 in the Continental Tire Road Race Showcase at Road America on Sunday, had been sent to the rear of the field after a ride height penalty wiped out their best qualifying lap Saturday afternoon. Meanwhile, the sister No. 66 Ford GT that had qualified on pole encountered a suspected suspension failure right after the start of the race that sent Dirk Müller to the pit for a fix and set the car back four laps.
Meanwhile, while all eyes were on the No. 66, Briscoe diligently worked his way through the field to the front and Ford Chip Ganassi Racing took the lead for the first time when they pitted for a driver change and Westbrook beat the leader out of pit lane.
They kept the lead until the final minutes of the race. Just when it seemed they’d take another checkered flag, the No. 67 went down on power and Westbrook was overtaken shortly after the final restart to finish p2.
“It was bumper cars at the end,” Westbrook said. “I thought we had enough, but I just had nothing on the restart. (The winning car) cleared me by the time we hit the braking zone. It was a tough one to take.”
“It was really disappointing to miss the win,” Briscoe said. “I think we deserved it. The guys did an awesome job in the pit, strategy was great, the car was handling great. We did everything right, but the race was 10 minutes too long and Richard did a great job to bring it home in second. We started down in the back, got through all the traffic and then we were really working on the fuel mileage. We were able to go a little further than most of the field. We pitted with the Ferrari and then beat them out of the pits and came out with the lead with Richard in the car. It was an unbelievable start to the race and we just feel bad to lose the win right at the end there.”
Joey Hand, Müller’s co-driver, brought the No. 66 in p9 in class.
“We had a brilliant start at the beginning,” Müller said. “I knew it was going to be tough because of just the pure acceleration. The competition is really, really strong. I knew I’d have to be patient to bring the tires up. I was p2 going into Canada Corner and everything was under control. I was already thinking ahead. I had a big smile on my face. I thought it was going to be fun. Then while I was braking, something went funny on the front right so I couldn’t really take the corner right. The steering was far to the right. I had to let people by at that point. We decided not to pit right away, just so we could figure out what was going on. Then it just got worse and I went off track. We gained laps back later with strategy. That was a shame. We should’ve been on the podium. Congrats to the No. 67 guys on another podium.”
Ford Performance IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Notes and Quotes
FORD GT STARTING POSITIONS
P1 66 Ford GT (Joey Hand/*Dirk Müller)
P3 67 Ford GT (Richard Westbrook/*Ryan Briscoe)
Notes: Dirk Müller earned his first IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship pole and his first since the Le Mans 24, where he put the new Ford GT at the front of the pack for the first time. It was the fourth pole overall for Ford Chip Ganassi Racing (Le Mans 24, Watkins Glen, Lime Rock and Road America) and the third in IMSA competition.
No. 66 Ford GT
Ford Chip Ganassi Racing
DIRK MÜLLER: “On the way here, I already knew we were going to be in good shape. I knew the Ford Chip Ganassi Racing team, in combination with Michelin tires, would put us in the position to have some fun. Since the first lap here, I could tell we’d have a strong car, but you never know. This morning the competition was really strong and the times were really close. We had to do a tire choice and it looks like we are in a good way here, because if it’s good for today, it’ll be good for tomorrow.”
No. 67 Ford GT
Ford Chip Ganassi Racing
RYAN BRISCOE: “We’re really quite pleased. It was a great result for the team, first and third, and getting the pole. I think we should be sharing the front row with them, but we just didn’t get all the potential out of the car. We got called in for track limits on that last lap that was quicker (than our final qualifying time). We got a great starting spot. We’ve been a little bit on the back foot with the set-up on the No. 67 car this weekend and that session is the best the car’s felt. From here, we can definitely tune on it for the race and try to keep it at the front.”