Michelin Alley takes a deeper look at the GT Le Mans teams’ performances at the Rolex 24 at Daytona. First up is a look at Ford Chip Ganassi Racing, which dominated en route to a 1-2 finish.
Ford Chip Ganassi Racing
Car: Ford GT
Drivers: 66-Joey Hand/Dirk Mueller/Sebastien Bourdais, 67-Ryan Briscoe/Richard Westbrook/Scott Dixon
2018 Rolex 24 at Daytona Started/Finished: 67-5th/Won, 66-2nd/2nd
Laps Led: 774 of 783 (67-149, 66-625)
Fastest Laps: 1:44.054 (67-Briscoe, 2nd), 1:44.086 (66-Hand, 3rd)
Recap: Ford Chip Ganassi Racing capped off a near perfect month of January with an authoritative run to a 1-2 finish at the Rolex 24 at Daytona. Starting drivers Joey Hand and Richard Westbrook moved from second and fifth on the grid to first and second by the end of the first lap, and never looked back from there, leading all but nine laps over 24 hours of racing.
The total lap count of 783 completed surpassed both the old overall lap (762 laps set in 1992 in a Nissan R91 CP) and mileage (2,760.96 miles set on an old 3.84-mile configuration) records. The 783 laps equate to 2,787.48 miles of the 3.56-mile configuration, and the laps led equate to 2,755.44 miles of that race.
The two @FordPerformance GTs combined to lead 774 of the 783 laps in GTLM this race, all but nine over a 24-hour stretch. The winning No. 67 car led 149 laps, while the No. 66 car led 625 laps. pic.twitter.com/ceoTYT07HT
— Michelin Alley (@MichelinAlley) January 28, 2018
The win was the 200th for the Chip Ganassi Racing team in its history, with other wins spread across IMSA, FIA WEC, IndyCar, NASCAR and Global Rallycross. This was its 56th in sports car competition. Ganassi is the only team owner in history to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Rolex 24 at Daytona, 12 Hours of Sebring, Indianapolis 500, Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400.
Turning Point: While the No. 66 car led the majority of the race, a short fill on the No. 67 car’s third-to-last stop was enough to give Westbrook the edge to pass the stationary No. 66 car on its third-to-last stop in the 22nd of 24 hours. The team installed Briscoe to the finish, and the Australian brought the car home for the team’s landmark win. Briscoe also won Team Penske’s 300th race, in an IndyCar race at Milwaukee in 2008.
Notes: This is Dixon’s third (2006, 2015 overall with Ganassi), Briscoe’s second (2015, GTLM with Corvette) and Westbrook’s first Rolex 24 victory. … First win for No. 67 car since Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, to end a 16-race winless stretch. … Ford CGR’s second 1-2 finish in IMSA (Watkins Glen, 2016).
Quote: “Obviously the cars were the same. It was very, very difficult to make the pass,” Westbrook explained. “There was a few bit of passing between the two cars in the race but they’re so, so evenly matched it took a mistake or something in traffic to make that move. It did require something from the pit crew, and our side of the garage did a great job and they can take a lot of credit for this win.”