- Third event on IMSA WeatherTech schedule offers radically different racing
- 67 Ford GT team finished second last year after starting last on the grid
- Ford Chip Ganassi Racing has three podiums at the event since 2014, including one win and runner-up finish in prototype
DEARBORN, Mich., April 10, 2018–When it comes to IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Challenge racing at the street circuit of Long Beach, only one thing is certain – it’s going to be a wild ride.
Take last year for instance. After brushing the wall during qualifying, the No. 67 Ford GT was sent to the back of the pack for the green flag. Meanwhile, the No. 66 started on the front row after driver Joey Hand qualified p2, perfectly positioned for a podium in the two-hour sprint. Or so onlookers may have thought. Instead, the No. 66 was caught up in not one, but two incidents as teams jockeyed aggressively for position in front of and around it. Hand, the Californian, and co-driver Dirk Müller finished p8.
While mayhem took the No. 66 and much of their competition for a ride, drivers Richard Westbrook and Ryan Briscoe carefully executed a fuel-sipping, tire-saving one-stop race scripted out for them and steadily moved up through the pack all the way to the second step of the podium.
It was Ford Chip Ganassi Racing’s third podium at the Long Beach event, including a win and second-place finish in prototype in 2014-5. So far in 2018, the No. 67 team has won its first event (Rolex 24 At Daytona) and finished just off-podium at its second, a fourth-place finish at Sebring.
“Anything can happen at Long Beach,” Briscoe said. “Strategy is just as important as running clean and that played in our favor. That’s something we can count on. Our crew chief has always thought out all of our options so it’s up to us to race smart and bring it home in one piece.”
In spite of the unpredictable action that such a short tricky race brings, Müller still looks forward to this only street circuit on the IMSA schedule.
“We are really looking forward to this race,” Müller said. “We both love this race. It’s a second home race for Joey. He always brings his family and having our teammates from Chip Ganassi Racing there from IndyCar is also really cool. It’s a short race and so lots of strategy is in place. I think we have the makings to be on the podium.”