Hand, Ford capture Long Beach pole

April 13, 2018

Hand, Ford capture Long Beach pole

April 13, 2018

Ford has denied Porsche the pole and a front row lockout for Saturday’s BUBBA burger Sports Car Grand Prix, the third round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season, from the streets of Long Beach.

Joey Hand pulled out a stunner on his tenth and final qualifying lap in the No. 66 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT, to post a new pole time of 1:16.869 at the 1.968-mile circuit.

The American scored his fifth IMSA WeatherTech Championship pole (first for both himself and Ford since VIR 2017) with a new record lap. It beat Jan Magnussen’s 2017 pole time of 1:16.909.

“They made some changes right at the end,” Hand told IMSA Radio. “We threw something at it and it worked. It took a really clean lap. Low fuel, and that was the time to do it.

“I just threw down as hard as I could. I had put myself up to third. That was satisfying. That last lap, I got pretty clean.”

Porsche, GTLM class winners at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, were denied a front row lockout at the shortest race of the IMSA season, and the lone street race for the Michelin technical partner teams this year.

Laurens Vanthoor looked set to be the second straight driver to win his first GTLM pole (Connor De Phillippi at Sebring for BMW Team RLL) before Hand’s last lap. Vanthoor’s best time was a 1:17.013. He’ll share his No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR with Earl Bamber.

Sebring winners Patrick Pilet and Nick Tandy line up third in the No. 911 Porsche. The two Corvettes are next, followed by the second Ford and the pair of BMW M8 GTEs.

With a 1:12.922, Juan Pablo Montoya has taken the No. 6 Acura ARX-05 to its first pole since its Daytona race debut. Montoya won the CART race at Long Beach in 1999, and will line up on the overall pole in the Acura Team Penske car he’ll share with Dane Cameron.

Saturday’s race will air live on FOX at 4 p.m. ET, 1 p.m. PT and local time.

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Monday April 16, 2018