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Ford Chip Ganassi Racing comes home to celebrate Le Mans win

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After its win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the GTE-Pro class, the Ford Chip Ganassi Racing team returned home to Dearborn, Mich. and Ford’s Product Development Center to award the trophy to Ford Motor Company executives.

Ford’s release on the day is linked below:

The champagne has long since stopped flowing at the Le Mans 24 Hours, but there was still one thing left to do for Ford Chip Ganassi Racing. On Tuesday, they checked that box.

Drivers Joey Hand (US), Dirk Müller (GER), Sébastien Bourdais (FRA) and team owner Chip Ganassi joined Ford Performance executives to present the winners’ trophy to Ford Motor Company employees on Tuesday at Ford’s Product Development Center, while third-place finishers Ryan Briscoe (AUS) and Richard Westbrook (GB) joined them for a formal presentation with Ford executives, question-and-answer sessions and autograph signing near Ford’s global world headquarters.

“It’s always a great day when you can bring a celebration like our Le Mans victory back to Ford employees and be able to present this trophy to them,” said Dave Pericak, global director, Ford Performance. “This victory for was them. So many of our employees worked very hard to help us get ready to race at Le Mans, and we couldn’t have done it without them. And all of our employees, here and globally, have been behind us from the start in this effort, and we wanted to let them know how much their support meant to us.”

With his 175th victory Ganassi becomes the only owner in history to win the Indianapolis 500, Daytona 500, Brickyard 400, Rolex 24 At Daytona, 12 Hours of Sebring and Le Mans 24 Hours.

Ganassi attended with team partner Rob Kauffman, Chip Ganassi Racing President Steve Lauletta, Managing Director Mike Hull, IMSA sports car team principal Mike O’Gara and WEC team principal George Howard-Chappell. Multimatic Vice President Larry Holt and Doug Yates, CEO of Roush Yates Engines, also were on hand for the celebration.

Bill Ford with trophy. Photo: Ford
Bill Ford with trophy. Photo: Ford

“The new Ford GT is a spectacular car and we feel honored to be the ones to race it and represent Ford,” Ganassi said. “In just two-and-a-half years this Ford Performance Chip Ganassi Racing program has won the 12 Hours of Sebring, the Rolex 24 At Daytona, and the 24 Hours of Le Mans – among others. You can probably call that the sports car triple crown – the three biggest sportscar races in the world and Ford and Chip Ganassi Racing have made an indelible mark on all of them. I couldn’t be more proud.”

First unveiled to the media at Le Mans last year, the Ford GT’s Le Mans victory came 395 days after the car turned a wheel for the first time on May 20, 2015, at Calabogie Motorsports Park in Canada. The new Ford GT began as a secret project that only a few Ford employees knew about, but has become a company-wide point of pride.

“I think what’s important with any program you’re on, but especially this one, is you have to look back at how it started,” Hand said. “This race car started with all the employees at Ford and Ford Performance, in the special basement studio. Having a car that could race to win Le Mans and then to do it, on the day of the anniversary, is nothing short of amazing. It’s the people at Ford, from the Ford family down, to Multimatic and Chip Ganassi Racing that make it as special as it is. We all feel like we’re a family on this program. I think everyone can be really proud, on all levels of this program, about what we did.”

In all, four Ford GTs raced at Le Mans – two that campaign full-time in the global FIA World Endurance Championship, based in the UK, and two that compete in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in North America. They raced at Le Mans with the numbers 66, 67, 68, 69, in homage to the four years Ford won the storied race in a row with the Ford GT40.

The morning of the visit, Westbrook and Briscoe presented a pair of boots and gloves they were wearing at Laguna Seca, when they earned the first win for the new Ford GT, to The Henry Ford museum.

“(The win at Laguna Seca) was a great stepping stone to the success we were able to continue with going to Le Mans and beyond,” Briscoe said. “I think it was just a really important win for everyone involved, especially on the race team. Just to give us the confidence that we can get the job done and yes, we can do this and let’s go to Le Mans and do it again. We’d had a few issues in the races before, so it was just great to have an absolutely trouble-free weekend and everything was really reliable, performance was strong. It was the perfect way to send off to Le Mans.”

Both the No. 66 Ford GT (the car that won at Le Mans) and the No. 67 (the p3 finisher) were on display for employees to see.

“It’s amazing (to see the support),” Westbrook said. “At Le Mans Dave (Pericak) and Raj (Nair) were always reminding us about how popular this program is and how much support for this program there is in Dearborn, and that was a big comfort racing at Le Mans, knowing that we’re racing for a big team, not just our guys at the track, but all of those people supporting us back at Ford World Headquarters in Michigan and around the world. To come see them is really special. It reminds us of why we’re racing. We’re not just racing for ourselves, but for a whole workforce. A huge amount of people who have put a lot of work into this program. It’s really special.”

Zach Veach splits with Andretti Autosport for rest of IndyCar season

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Zach Veach will be leaving his Andretti Autosport ride with three races remaining in the season, choosing to explore options after the decision was made he wouldn’t return for 2021.

In a Wednesday release, Andretti Autosport said a replacement driver for the No. 26 Dallara-Honda would be named in the coming days. The NTT IndyCar Series will race Oct. 2-3 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and then conclude the season Oct. 25 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida.

Veach was ranked 11th in the points standings through 11 races of his third season with Andretti. Since a fourth in the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, he hadn’t finished higher than 14th.

“The decision was made that I will not be returning in 2021 with Andretti Autosport in the No. 26 Gainbridge car,” Veach said in the Andretti release. “This, along with knowing that limited testing exists for teams due to COVID, have led me to the decision to step out of the car for the remainder of the 2020 IndyCar season. I am doing this to allow the team to have time with other drivers as they prepare for 2021, and so that I can also explore my own 2021 options.

“This is the hardest decision I have ever made, but to me, racing is about family, and it is my belief that you take care of your family. Andretti Autosport is my family and I feel this is what is best to help us all reach the next step. I will forever be grateful to Michael and the team for all of their support over the years. I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for a relationship that started many years ago with Road to Indy. I will also be forever grateful to Dan Towriss for his friendship and for the opportunity he and Gainbridge have given me.

“My love for this sport and the people involved is unmeasurable, and I look forward to continuing to be amongst the racing world and fans in 2021.”

Said team owner Michael Andretti: “We first welcomed Zach to the Andretti team back in his USF2000 days and have enjoyed watching him grow and evolve as a racer, and a person. His decision to allow us to use the last few races to explore our 2021 options shows the measure of his character.

“Zach has always placed team and family first, and we’re very happy to have had him as part of ours for so many years. We wish him the best in whatever 2021 may bring and will always consider him a friend.”

Andretti fields five full-time cars for Veach, Alexander Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti and Colton Herta.

It also has fielded James Hinchcliffe in three races this season.