Ford seeks fourth straight win at Road America

August 1, 2018

Ford seeks fourth straight win at Road America

August 1, 2018

Ford Chip Ganassi Racing will look to make a small bit of history at this week’s IMSA Road Race Showcase at Road America.

The team seeks its fourth consecutive race win in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GT Le Mans class.

If Ford can pull it off, it will match a feat achieved only once before since the 2014 merger that brought IMSA under one unified banner. That came when Corvette Racing won four straight GTLM races in 2014.

Porsche also won four straight races in 2015, but that was with two different teams (Falken and Porsche GT Team).

Chip Ganassi’s line of “I like winners” has proven accurate for both pairs of drivers in the Ford GTs this year. Ryan Briscoe and Richard Westbrook in the No. 67 car and Joey Hand and Dirk Mueller in the No. 66 car each have two wins this year. Ford leads the field with four wins in seven races. Meanwhile, Porsche has two wins and Chevrolet one.

They’ve won in four completely different ways, as well. Ford’s crushing win at the season opening Rolex 24 at Daytona came after leading all but nine laps in a 24-hour race, and was a 1-2 finish.

Each of the Nos. 66 and 67 cars enjoyed excellent strategic moves to get ahead at Watkins Glen and CTMP. Then last race at Lime Rock Park, Hand closed down more than 12 seconds in his final stint to pass Jan Magnussen’s Corvette for the win.

“We knew this would be a bit of attrition, and hold onto the tires and make it go the distance. Michelin did a great job today. They really impressed me,” Hand said of the Lime Rock win, Ford’s third straight.

“At the end of the race at Lime Rock when you have a chance to win it, you can take a lot more risk in traffic. I definitely took a lot of risk. It worked out a couple times. That was enough to close the gap. I could tell (Jan) was struggling, so I tried to make a pick in traffic. I tucked underneath and he went off anyways. We sailed it home.”

Hand and Mueller are in search of their second championship as co-drivers. The first came with BMW Team RLL in 2011, under the American Le Mans Series banner. Briscoe and Westbrook seek their first together. After Lime Rock, the two pairs are covered by just two points. They sandwich defending champions Magnussen and Antonio Garcia of Corvette Racing, who sit second in the standings, just one point behind Hand and Mueller.

Ganassi’s sports car team has won six races in a row before, but that was spread over two seasons. The team won the last three races of 2010 and first races of 2011 in the GRAND-AM Rolex Series.

Within GTLM, runs of wins have been hard to come by. Ford has two sets of three straight wins, so this will be its second attempt at a four-peat.

Corvette snapped Ford’s win streak in its tracks at Lime Rock in 2016, to score its 100th win as a team. Corvette sealed another impressive win at Road America two weeks later, denying Ford a potential rebound there.

Ford will be hungry to match its American rivals as a four-in-a-row winner at Road America. But Corvette will be just as hungry to stop the Ford train in its tracks for a second time.

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