In amongst the many historically significant results and events from last weekend’s Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona, Chip Ganassi Racing’s 200th win was one that stood out. Ganassi’s list of achievements since his team’s first victory back in the early 90s are staggering, the 1-2 formation finish at Daytona over the weekend another key one to add to the list.
For Ford too, it was a big victory for its GT programme, the #67 crew scoring its first win since the 2016 IMSA round at Mosport, and in the process, the ‘Blue Oval’s’ second straight Rolex 24 win.
As it stands, of the big events the GT has competed in, it now has a Le Mans win and two Rolex 24 victories, with the prospect of further victories at Petit Le Mans and Sebring as well as Daytona and Le Mans before its final ride as a factory car, set for the end of the 2019 season.
Looking back on this dominant performance, in which the two Fords finished more than a clear lap ahead of all the other GTLM class runners from Porsche, Corvette, Ferrari and BMW, Ganassi said it was their race to lose.
“After a certain amount of hours, it’s your race to lose, and that was our race to lose. Hats off to the team, drivers and crew, they deserve this, they worked so hard.”
The team’s first win came back in 1994, in IndyCar, with Michael Andretti. So much has changed since then, but Ganassi says he’s reluctant to reflect on the past too much, even after 200 victories, 103 in IndyCar, 56 in sportscars, 39 in stock cars and two in rally cross.
“We were a one car team then,” he said, looking back at the team’s first win at Surfers Paradise, “so obviously that was a big race, I think in terms of the 200 wins there’s a time and a place to talk about that. But we’re the kind of team that focuses on today, that’s how we approach it. This weekend, and this win was about Daytona, the Rolex.
We’re the kind of team that is trying to do what’s best for today
With the milestone now achieved, Chip also isn’t sure what’s next for the team, stating to the media after the 24 that it’s hard to keep growing his team.
“I don’t know what’s next, as the team grows it does get to be a bit burdensome at times to keep growing it,” he continued. “I’m happy at this point to ensure we’re stepping on solid ground for the next few years and solidify our current position.”
In amongst his driving crew that won in Florida, it was also a key milestone for Richard Westbrook too, the win marking his first win at the Rolex 24, after trying for over a decade.
“It was an amazing win, there was nothing in it, racing our teammates. It felt like ages we were one second apart, it was so intense. There were no team orders, we raced hard and came away with the 200th win for Chip, and with Dan Gurney on our car was just awesome.
“It’s taken 12 goes, I always seem to come second in 24 hour races,” Westbrook chuckled. “I went in thinking it was a one in four chance, because it looked like us two vs the Corvettes. We executed really well, and to come away with a win straight off the batt this year is incredible.
“There was strtegtegy between the two (Ford) teams, we were both trying to out-smart each other, we were trying to short fill to get in the lead at the end, I was then able to push, build up a lead, before they reacted to that and short filled the last time, but we were on the front foot and had sewn it up by then. It was very difficult to make passes between ourselves, because the cars are so evenly matched.”
Photo Courtesy of Chip Ganassi Racing