Ford Chip Ganassi Racing played the rare role of spoiler Saturday in the Northeast Grand Prix at Lime Rock Park.
With Corvette Racing eyeing an historic 100th career IMSA win following what had been a dominant weekend for the team, the No. 66 Ford GT of Joey Hand slowly caught and eventually passed the No. 3 Corvette C7.R of race leader Jan Magnussen with 13 minutes remaining, driving away to an 11.431 second victory alongside co-driver Dirk Mueller.
The winning pass came when Magnussen tried to make a move on a GT Daytona (GTD) car in Turn 7. Magnussen cleared the car but ran wide, allowing Hand to slip by. It was a surprising turn of events as Magnussen and co-driver Antonio Garcia were strong all weekend, starting on the pole and combining to lead 150 of the race’s 178 laps.
“I think today we capitalized on some opportunities, some guys made mistakes and we were right there to take advantage of it,” said Hand. “Winning races is all about that, winning championships is all about winning races.
“I hope everybody enjoyed the race today. This is one of those places where you get that feeling, you have such genuine fans here. You can see them on the hillside, it’s like a stadium race. It’s like a short track Saturday night. I think that’s what makes this WeatherTech series a show, and it has to be a show. That’s why we’re all paid to be here. I’ll tell you, when I get to race in the show and I get to win, that’s what makes it worth it.
It was the third consecutive IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GTLM win for Ford Chip Ganassi Racing with Hand and Mueller winning two races ago at Watkins Glen, and the No. 67 Ford GT of Richard Westbrook and Ryan Briscoe winning the most recent race at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.
“This win truly is a win for the whole team and for Ford Chip Ganassi Racing,” said Mueller. “I want to thank everybody, it was awesome. I’m still shaking. That’s how strong this team is. We’re always looking forward. We came here, we didn’t know we could be that kind of strong. We knew maybe a podium was possible, but anything is possible.”
Both Ford GTs are now in the thick of a tight points battle with Corvette Racing with four races remaining. Mueller and Hand unofficially now have 208 points with Garcia and Magnussen a point behind with 207 and Briscoe and Westbrook one point further back with 206.
The WeatherTech Championship returns to action in two weeks at Road America for the Continental Tire Road Race Showcase on Sunday, Aug. 5. The race signals the return of the Prototype class following Lime Rock’s GT-only event and can be seen live on FS1 at 2:30 p.m. ET. The race will be carried live by IMSA Radio on IMSA.com, RadioLeMans.com and SiriusXM Radio (Sirius 138/XM 202/App 972).
Jan Magnussen, Driver – No. 3 Corvette C7.R
“This is hard to swallow. It’s tough because we had a great car. Everyone did a fantastic job all week – the crew, the engineers and everybody. Then I think it was a little bit long of a stint for the tire compared to what to the Ford had at the end. It got difficult and I think I could have held it up longer than I did because I got into trouble passing GTD cars on the inside of the last corner and it threw me wide off the track. He drove by and that was it. We were good up until that point, but I knew going that long on the tires was going to be a challenge. So now it is on to Road America and see if we can do one better.”
Earl Bamber, Driver – No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR:
“It turned into a pretty good race. We were strong the whole way. We were in the hunt for a win, but unfortunately we had a really slow pit stop, so that set us back. From there we were in damage limitation. We’re happy to get another podium, I think that’s the best we could do.”