With just 13 minutes left in IMSA’s Northeast Grand Prix at Lime Rock Park, co-drivers Joey Hand and Dirk Mueller powered into the lead to take the win and thwart Corvette Racing’s attempt at collecting its 100th victory. The come-from-behind win marked the third IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GTLM win in a row for the Ford Chip Ganassi Racing-backed, Multimatic Motorsports-built Ford GT supercars.
Today was about capitalizing on opportunity, and that’s what this team is really great at overall. Joey Hand, Ford Chip Ganassi Racing
“The depth of talent at Ford Chip Ganassi Racing showed itself again today, but also in the last three races,” Mark Rushbrook, global director, Ford Performance Motorsports, said. “It was a big win, a great win for the team. They are finding different ways to win. We couldn’t be prouder of the effort from everyone today.”
The #66 Ford GT battled throughout the 2-hour-and-40-minute race, but it came down to closing minutes before the EcoBoost-powered machine thrust into the lead.
“It’s just amazing,” Joey enthused. “We knew this race was going to be about being around at the end. We knew tire longevity was going to be key here, and you have to be impressed with Michelin and our tires. They went the distance when we needed them to because I was 12 seconds down there, and that set of tires, we were hard on them. I could see I was reeling him in (#3 Corvette). He was struggling in traffic and I was making some moves in traffic that were really aggressive, including getting in a full-on battle with the leading GTD cars. It’s the last stint and you have no choice.”
It was no easy chore, as the #3 Corvette driven by Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia led all but 28 laps of the 178-lap race.
“But we just had the car at the end — this Ford GT,” Joey added. “This team just keeps fighting. We worked on race set-up all the way including after qualifying this morning. That’s why we’re capable of winning races here. Today was about capitalizing on opportunity, and that’s what this team is really great at overall. We got one with the 67 guys at Mosport, we got one with us at the Glen, and we got one today racing really hard for it.”
The #67 Ford GT driven by Richard Westbrook and Ryan Briscoe had a strong effort as well, finishing third to keep themselves in the points chase as well.
“This Ford Chip Ganassi Racing team just impresses me, weekend to weekend,” Dirk said. “It’s such a big family. It’s great. I feel a little bad for the 67 guys, since they had a little trouble there today, but this win means so much to me and the team. It’s our first overall win as a team, and a big win in terms of the championship.”
It definitely was big, as the Lime Rock triumph pushed the driving duo into the points lead with 208. Meanwhile, the Blue Oval teams retain an 11-point lead in the manufacturer’s points chase with 230.
“I think today we capitalized on some opportunities, some guys made mistakes and we were right there to take advantage of it,” Joey told IMSA. “Winning races is all about that, winning championships is all about winning races.”
That quest will continue as the Ford GTs look to make it four win in a row when IMSA heads to Road America in Plymouth, Wisconsin, on August 3-5.