Ford Chip Ganassi Racing earned one final podium for Ford GT at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta, where Richard Westbrook, Ryan Briscoe and Scott Dixon finished second in GTLM in the No. 67 Ford GT.
Ford CGR earned 48 podiums in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and FIA World Endurance Championship.
“Although we would have liked to end it with a win, there’s no question our guys gave it all they had today,” said Mark Rushbrook, Global Director of Ford Performance, Motorsports. “Both cars had great pace, and we battled to the very end. It was the nature of this team and this Ford GT program from the start – to find a way to be competitive no matter what. I couldn’t be prouder of everyone involved, including our great partners Ganassi, Multimatic, Roush Yates and Michelin. We could not have had the success we had in this program without them.”
The Nos. 66 and 67 Ford GT’s qualified side-by-side on the third row for the 10-hour race – the final contest for the Ford CGR Ford GT factory program. Joey Hand qualified the No. 66 he shared with longtime co-driver Dirk Müller and Sébastien Bourdais fifth, while Westbrook wheeled the No. 67 to the sixth spot.
After trading the lead with the No. 67 for much of the first half of the race, the No. 66 had an off, making Hand, Müller and Bourdais longshots for the podium. They finished eighth.
Globally, Ford CGR won 19 races. During the four years of the program, 15 elite racing drivers competed for the four-car team tasked with bringing the road and race car campaigned by Ford to the checkered flag first.
At Petit, Ford CGR claimed the driver, team and manufacturer titles in the Michelin IMSA Endurance Cup.
Ryan Briscoe: “Oh man, as far as what you can do in a race, and how the guys performed across the board, I think it’s one of the best outright performances we’ve ever had as a team. We just did everything absolutely right to the maximum, no mistakes. We had such a close battle at the end with the Ferrari, they just had a bit more speed and luck with the traffic. We gave it all we had. We got the (Michelin IMSA Endurance Cup) and got close to the manufacturer championship. The way we performed today made me so proud of the guys. It’s a bit emotional, I had a lot of thoughts going through my head the last few laps, but I’m really proud of the job that everyone’s done – today and for the past four years.”
Richard Westbrook: “I mean, of course it would have been nice to close out this great program with a win, but it wasn’t to be. We ran really strong all race, and because of that we picked up the stage wins and took the (Michelin IMSA Endurance Cup), so really proud to walk away with that. It’s been such a great program and I’m really, really glad to be able to end it on a positive note.”
Scott Dixon: “It was a pretty good race. I think the whole Ford GT team did a hell of a job. Ultimately it was a bit frustrating as frankly, we did have a perfect race, we just came up short. But we landed the (Michelin IMSA Endurance Cup) for the team, which was great. A win to wrap it all up would have be nice, but everyone gave their all.”
Dirk Müller: “It was very emotional. Taking that last lap, when they said no one was behind me…I had time to think about whether that would be my last lap in the Ford GT, and that was very emotional for sure. The No. 66 team, we got really unlucky today. I had a feeling on my second stint early in the race, and that feeling was right…I felt like I was just a passenger going into that Turn 1. I couldn’t do anything there. It took a long time for the safety crew to get there to get us out. Not sure why, but we wouldn’t have lost anything there and could have stayed on the lead lap. We tried to get laps back, but couldn’t. We drove like hell.”
Joey Hand: “Dang, we were good at the start. Fighting and passing people. Unfortunately, Dirk had that issue in Turn 1, but what are you going to do? The big thing is I am so proud to have been part of this program. It’s kind of crazy when you think about what people were talking about when they said what this program was intended to do – to go and win the Le Mans 24 and other big races like the Rolex 24 at Daytona. So to be able to win Le Mans on the first try and Daytona on our second try, it’s just a testament to everyone involved in the program. It started at Ford Motor Company, and then to Ford Performance, and Chip Ganassi Racing, and Multimatic, and Roush Yates. People probably wouldn’t believe those five big entities, and just bad ass people, could come together like a family in just a few months and do what we did. It’s about the people and the relationships and we had strong relationships here between Dirk and I, Seb, and Westy, Ryan and Dixie. It was a fun ride and I will have great friends for life.”