- No’s 67 and 66 finish fifth and sixth at Laguna Seca, penultimate race in 2017 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season
- Final race of the year, Petit Le Mans, in two weeks
Ford Chip Ganassi Racing finished p5 (No. 67 Ford GT) and p6 (No. 66 Ford GT) at the America’s Tire 250 at Laguna Seca.The No. 66 team took the green flag from Row 1 for the seventh time in 10 races this year after driver Dirk Müller qualified p2. The car showed speed all weekend and by race day, Müller, co-driver Joey Hand and the Ford CGR team was satisfied that they’d found the set-up they were looking for. Mid-race, though, the No. 66 team just missed their chance to pit under the race’s only full-course yellow with the rest of the pack and were left hoping for a late-race caution that would cycle them back to the top of the running order.
Meanwhile, the No. 67 team had even more to battle back from, including a hit on pit lane by another car and a drive-through penalty for a collision with another IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship title contender.
“We had a good race car today,” said Hand, the closer for the No. 66. “I got the car, drove out of the pits and was able to get up to the leaders and put some heat on them. I was even in the lead for awhile. The balance of the car was pretty good. When we missed the yellow, that’s pretty much where the race went a little sideways on us. If the yellow had happened about five seconds sooner, we could’ve dived in with everyone else. We missed pitlane and got on a different strategy, and that’s what cost us.
“Once we got our last set of tires, I just took care of them to make sure I had enough to get to the end in case there was a yellow. The good thing about today and this weekend is that again, as a team, we made really good decisions. We made the car go forward set-up wise and really made it a racy car in some difficult conditions. Looking ahead, we’ll see what we can do in Atlanta. It’s not over until it’s over.”
Ryan Briscoe qualified the No. 67 p5 and hovered around that mark until he handed over to Richard Westbrook, who finished the race.
“I think the GTLM category is a pretty severe category to race in,” said Chip Ganassi Racing Managing Director Mike Hull. “We had good race cars and we didn’t get a good result today. It wasn’t because the guys in the pits didn’t work hard. Pit strategy did come into play today. The No. 67 car was hammered by another car on pit lane. The No. 66 guys raced with the leaders all day long and they deserved a better finish than what they got, I think. All in all, happy with where we are in points and we’ll go do a 10-hour race (Petit Le Mans) now.”
The No.’s 67 and 66 Ford GTs are now second and third in the championship standings, 19 and 20 points behind the leader, respectively. Ford is second in the manufacturers’ points, 11 points behind the leader.
The season finishes up in two weeks with Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta.