The Alley

Close contact at Long Beach

Scraping the walls is the secret to success at Long Beach. But you have to have the precision of a surgeon. Ford Performance ace “Dr” Joey Hand qualified second fastest yesterday aboard the Ford GT.

In doing so, he managed to knock a mirror of his car as the entire GTLM field covered by a remarkable .578 of a second.

His teammate Richard Westbrook pushed the envelope just a touch too far – contact with the tire wall ripping the wing off the rear of the car.

However, he was amongst friends. Reigning series champion Patrick Pilet crashed in the final minutes of practice and did not take part in qualifying at all.

Risi Competizione’s Toni Vilander also “backed it in” at the end of the back straight but was still strong enough to qualify third.

Pole man Jan Magnussen avoided the walls for Corvette Racing but famously in the past has pushed things so close that he managed to shave paint of the mirror without knocking it off.

“I feel good about second today,” Hand said.

“I threw down everything. I knocked the mirror of the car off again. I put some Long Beach racing stripes on it, but that’s what you have to do here. You have to maximize. I got everything I could. We were close to pole, but we can race from No. 2.”

Despite Westbrook’s incident, both Ford’s will be on track for today’s race from 1:00pm.

“Joey got everything out of the car he possibly could,” said team manager Mike O’Gara.

“There were segments we were faster, but overall lap time, we were just a tenth short overall. Richard was trying to wring everything he could out of the No. 67 car and unfortunately clipped a tire and tore up the back of the car. We’ll get it fixed for tomorrow. It gives us a great opportunity to try a new strategy to get to the front.”

 

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