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Ford GT wins third race in its last four worldwide starts

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The Ford GT has won its third race in its last four attempts, combining the Ford Chip Ganassi Racing efforts in both the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and FIA World Endurance Championship.

Ford didn’t quite get out of the gates great at its first four events, three in IMSA and its WEC debut.

But clearly the twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6-powered car has found its form in the last four, winning IMSA’s trip to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in May for the new car’s first win, then coming second at the second WEC race of the year at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps.

The last two races though the Ford has clearly been the car to beat in the GTE ranks, first with a 1-3-4 in GTE-Pro at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and then with a 1-2 in GTLM in Sunday’s Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen. They’ll have a chance to continue that roll next week at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in the next round of the IMSA season.

The results are as good as the news that Ford has extended through 2019 for both programs.

See Ford’s post-Watkins Glen release, below:

The Ford GT is on a winning streak. Ford Chip Ganassi Racing earned its second double-podium in a row as the No. 67 Ford GT duo of Richard Westbrook and Ryan Briscoe cruised to victory lane for the second time together, this time at the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen, while teammates Joey Hand and Dirk Müller backed up their win at the Le Mans 24 Hours with a runner-up finish.

Westbrook, who handled all driving duties Friday and Saturday while Briscoe went home for the surprise birth of daughter Blake James, put the No. 67 on pole with a track-record crushing 1:41.301, then, incredibly, set that bar even higher on race day.

“It’s just such a good period for us at the moment,” Westbrook said. “Confidence is so high. It’s just a pleasure going to work every day in this Ford camp. It’s just been an amazing 30 days especially, really. First the Le Mans 24 Hours and now this. It was a great race out there. We had a really great battle with the BMW for most of the race. At one point, I thought we didn’t have enough for them, but at the end, we just seemed that little bit stronger. It was a really good race. A good race to be part of. I’m really happy for my teammate that he actually made it to the track and he has a nice trophy to bring home to his girls.”

Westbrook and Briscoe earned Ford GT’s first win at Laguna Seca. Then they stood on the podium at p3 while teammates Hand, Müller and Sébastien Bourdais won on the 50th anniversary of Ford’s fabled 1-2-3 finish at the Le Mans 24 Hours in June. Now they’re back on the podium after Westbrook earned the team’s first IMSA pole in GTLM.

“It’s really good to be back here at Watkins Glen,” Briscoe said. “Obviously it was a really busy weekend of driving on the freeways back and forth to Connecticut from Watkins Glen, but it’s been exciting and it’s been fun. It was really strange not being here at the track. I was on the phone a lot with Richard and our engineer and Richard was on fire. He led two practice sessions and got the pole. So I’m coming in last night, and I was kind of nervous. I thought ‘I don’t want to step in here and let the team down.’ I’m glad we got the win and it’s all worked out well. I’ll be hitting the road as soon as I leave the track to go back to the hospital and see my girls. Thanks to the team and for Richard for sticking it out for me while I was gone. It’s been awesome being in the car today. It handled really well. It’s nice to lead some laps and get the win.”

The move of the race for the No. 66 happened in the closing moments, when Hand passed the BMW the team had been dueling with around the outside for p2.

“Clearly we have a little roll going here,” Hand said. “(Briscoe and Westbrook) won at Laguna Seca, we both had fast cars there, then we went to the Le Mans 24 Hours and had a great run there and ended up first and third between these two cars. This Ford Chip Ganassi Racing team, we’re hitting our stride. We got along really well from the beginning, but I think with the whole team, everyone is just flowing really good and we’re getting great support from our partners like Michelin and Castrol and IHG Rewards Club. There’s just a lot of good mojo. This is when it’s great to drive for a race team like this. They figure things out.

“We struggled on the No. 66 car. We thought we broke something. We struggled during qualifying. Even during the race, something didn’t feel right. There was so much rubber on the race track. It took a bunch of rubber to make the car feel normal, but after that…we had one bad pit stop that put us back to eighth and it was a dog fight to get back from that. The car was good. I was able to get through. We had some great racing. This IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship right now, in GTLM, is pretty awesome. We have some great cars. It’s cool for the fans.”

Like Hand, Müller credited the team for fixing an issue they dealt with early on in time for the race.

“I love every single second in the car,” Müller said. “The car was awesome. We had a little issue with the car yesterday and we found it, so thanks to the team. Ford Chip Ganassi did a great job with the car. It was really, really fast.”

IndyCar teams with NASCAR on IMS road course doubleheader in 2021

IndyCar NASCAR doubleheader 2021
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The NTT IndyCar Series will be sharing Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the NASCAR Cup Series in a race weekend doubleheader for the second consecutive season, but both series will be on the road course in August 2021.

IMS announced Wednesday that IndyCar will hold an Aug. 14, 2021 race on its 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course. It’ll be a day before NASCAR’s premier series runs the same layout for the first time after the Brickyard 400 was contested on the 2.5-mile oval for the first time in 27 years.

This season’s rescheduling of the IndyCar GMR Grand Prix to July 4, 2019 (a day before the Brickyard 400) led to the first NASCAR-IndyCar doubleheader weekend. The Xfinity Series also raced on the IMS road course for the first time July 4 after the IndyCar race ended.

INDYCAR AT IMS THIS WEEKEND: Harvest GP schedule, entry lists

IndyCar will be holding its second race weekend this year at the IMS road course Friday and Saturday with the Harvest GP.

“Our first NASCAR-INDYCAR weekend was a big success last July, with positive feedback from
our loyal fans who watched the races on NBC and from the drivers, teams and participants
involved,” IMS president Douglas Boles said in a statement. “The Xfinity Series’ debut on the IMS road course provided exactly the kind of thrilling action from the green to checkered flags that we anticipated, so we know the teams and drivers of the Cup Series will put on a great show as they turn left and right for the first time at IMS.

“We can’t wait to welcome back fans to see NASCAR and INDYCAR together during this
exciting weekend as we add another memorable chapter in the long, storied history of the
Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”

It also will mark the first NASCAR Cup-IndyCar doubleheader with a crowd as fans weren’t permitted at IMS in July because of the novel coronvavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Over the course of Wednesday, NASCAR is releasing its 36-race slate for next season. IndyCar has yet to release its full 2021 schedule.