Ford Chip Ganassi Racing swept the top two steps of the podium at Road America, earning their second-consecutive win of the year and third consecutive at the much-loved Wisconsin track.
The No. 67 Ford GT of drivers Richard Westbrook and Ryan Briscoe, winners at Lime Rock Park two weeks ago, took the checkered flag after starting second. Joey Hand and Dirk Müller, third-place finishers at Lime Rock, runnered-up.
“I’m so proud of how hard the team has been working all season and to see the results with two consecutive wins is outstanding!” said Mark Rushbrook, Global Director of Ford Performance Motorsports.
While the track design suits the Ford GT and the team has tested much there, strategy and consistency also came into play for Ford CGR.
“It was an awesome day,” Briscoe said. “Everything just went smoothly. The yellow-free race played to our strengths with the long runs and it was a pretty straightforward race with two stops. I think we just played it smooth…today it was more about the consistency than out-right speed.”
Those wins put the No. 67 team back in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GTLM title hunt with three races remaining.
“The key was being good on the tires,” Westbrook said. “The last 10 laps in the stint were the most important, not the first 10. If you put everything you had into the first 10 laps, you’d drop off for the last 10 and that’s where we caught them. It just feels awesome. Ryan did a killer job today. He put me in a really strong position. One of the Corvettes came into play and we were a bit nervous about them, but they had a bad stop and in the end, it was quite comfortable. We just had to watch tires and fuel. We’re on a great run right now.”
Briscoe and Westbrook are now third in the championship hunt, 18 points behind the leaders and four points out of second place. Müller is fifth, while Hand is 10th.
“I think it paid off that we did such good work on tire selection,” Müller said. “We are so much better right now on the long term. For one lap in qualifying, we just don’t have enough to hang in there, but it looks like the cars are really dialed in for long-distance runs. Mike (O’Gara, team principal and strategist for the No. 66) told me ‘Be patient, be patient. We need everything on the car. Bring it home’ and I handed it over to Joey, who did a hell of a job. It was awesome.”
“We saw people pitting so early and we thought ‘What are we missing?,’” Hand said. “We were certain we could do a two-stop deal. These guys started stopping, so we felt pretty good about our chances if we just kept tires on them. These Michelin tires came through for us again. It was all about saving tires and catching traffic right. I think we could’ve made a good show with Westy if it wasn’t for the traffic we hit on that last stop, but if you’re going to lose to someone, it’s pretty good to lose to your team car. P1-3 at Lime Rock and 1-2 here. We know Road America is a good place for us, but we had a hard time trying to get the car right. This was the best car I had all weekend. It’s the best time to have your best car.”
The series now heads to Virginia International Raceway (VIR) Aug. 23-25, 2019.