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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.”

Indy Lights: Kyle Kirkwood joins Andretti Autosport

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One of the Road to Indy’s most talented young drivers will climb another step up the development system ladder this season.

Kyle Kirkwood, the 2019 Indy Pro 2000 champion, has signed a contract to race for Andretti Autosport in the 2020 Indy Lights season. Kirkwood will drive the No. 28 car for the reigning championship team.

A native of Jupiter, Florida, 21-year-old Kirkwood has been incredibly successful in junior formulas over the last few years. He won the F4 US Championship 2017 and won both the F3 Americas and USF2000 titles in 2018.

Driving for RP Motorsport Racing, Kirkwood won 9 of 16 races in his maiden Indy Pro 2000 season last year, allowing him to win his fourth championship in three years and earn the Road to Indy scholarship.

“We are very excited about the addition of Kyle to our Indy Lights program,” Andretti Autosport CEO and Chairman Michael Andretti said. “We’ve followed Kyle’s career from when he started in 2018 with the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship and have been impressed with his success in every race that led to his Indy Pro 2000 Championship last year. As a championship-caliber team, Kyle displays the desire and talent that we look for in our drivers and are excited to see him hit the track for the 2020 Indy Lights season.”

Kirkwood previously drove for Andretti in a two-day test session at Sebring International Raceway in December. He will make his official debut for the team in the season-opening doubleheader at St. Petersburg on March 14-15.

“I am ecstatic that I can now say I am competing in Indy Lights with Andretti Autosport this season,” Kirkwood said. “They have established a winning program in Indy Lights and we plan on carrying that reputation throughout 2020.

“We are a fantastic match for each other and our Sebring test in December proved that.”

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