LONG BEACH, Calif. – Ford Chip Ganassi Racing narrowly missed a podium finish with the No. 67 Ford GT and clocked the quickest lap of GTLM with the No. 66 Ford GT in what was another growth weekend, this time on the streets of Long Beach in the third round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
Dirk Müller drove a mighty stint capped off by a blistering 1:17.934 in the closing laps of the race, but was by then laps down from an early issue with a door latch on the No. 66. In the meantime, Ryan Briscoe steadily moved up in the ranks in the No. 67, thanks to a solid start by co-driver Richard Westbrook, his own competitive lap times and a few key cautions that sidelined the leaders.
“Step-by-step, we’re getting closer to where we want to be,” said Westbrook, who started the No. 67 near the rear of the grid after a fire in practice forced them to skip qualifying. “P4 is the best result of the season. A few more laps there, there was a chance for a podium. (It’s) another step in the right direction, but we’re all racers on this team and we want to get there now.”
The No. 66 Ford GT took the green flag from the last position after choosing to switch tires after qualifying. Then, right after Joey Hand took the green flag, the door popped opened. Hand pitted for repairs and handed off to Müller, who drove the rest of the race to a p8 finish.
“After we fixed the issue with the door, the car was very good,” Müller said. “I had lots of fun out there. Again, good data for Le Mans. I thought we had the car to fight for a podium here, so I’m a little disappointed, but we need to understand why we had that issue, fix it and look forward.” Ford Chip Ganassi Racing will now head to Laguna Seca, Calif., where the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Challenge will race May 1.
“I think at the end, we may have been able to fight for the podium,” Briscoe said. “It was a bit of a shame, because we would’ve loved to go racing with those guys, but we showed pretty good pace at the end and good consistent times. We finished the race with the best result of the year so far. It was definitely a learning weekend, but in general, we’re happy with the result.”