IMSA: Ford breaks Porsche’s win streak at Lime Rock

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Ford Vs. Ferrari may not release in theaters until this November, but race fans at Lime Rock Park got to watch a live performance of Ford Vs. Porsche.

With the No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR of Earl Bamber fading late in the race due to worn tires, Richard Westbrook in the No. 67 Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT, on a three-stop strategy, was able to catch up to and challenge Bamber for the lead in the closing laps and eventually took over the lead with seven minutes remaining in the race.

The No. 67 would take the checkered flag, and finally break Porsche’s five-race GTLM win streak to claim their first class victory of the season.

“Just a great strategy by the team,” Westbrook told NBC Sports following the race. “Ryan [Briscoe’s] opening stint just put us in a really good position on this three-stop strategy. I had better tires than the Porsche, and that’s the only way we can beat them. We got to roll the dice and do a gamble, but we stuck to the plan. That was our plan before the race and it just worked to treat, but to do that, you need the best team.

“When you got all of that behind you, then sometimes these plans work out, and today was one of those special days.”

Co-Driver Briscoe watched as Westbrook took the checkered flag. For him, the win couldn’t have come at a better time.

“What a great drive by Rich at the end. I’m just so stoked,” Briscoe said “It’s been a tough year, and to turn things around here – my home race – with this win, it’s just phenomenal. The whole team just did such a great job. Gave us a really good car to drive, and I think I think it was just really fun to do the three-stop strategy and just do it on pace out there.”

Bamber was able to still hold on and finish second overall in the race, with the No. 66 Ford GT of Joey Hand and Dirk Mueller finishing in the third position.

GTD: Olsen gives Pfaff maiden victory with late-race pass

In GTD, Dennis Olsen gave Pfaff Motorsports their maiden IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship victory by passing Mario Farnbacher for the class lead with less than three minutes remaining.

However, Farnbacher fought back, challenging Olsen and almost retook the lead from the No. 9 Porsche 911 GT3 R, coming just short at the finish by only 0.010 seconds.

“I saw the opening, and I just had to do it,” Olsen said of his late-race pass. “We had some quite aggressive moves throughout the whole stint and towards the end as well. It was pretty hard to keep him behind on the last lap, but we made it.”

The victory was also the first for co-driver Zacharie Robichon.

“He did an incredible job,” Robichon said. “He took the opportunity when presented without being overly aggressive, and at the end, I’m not too sure what was going on, but he held his position and it was pretty stressful as a team, I’d say.”

The No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M6 GT3 of Bill Auberlen and Robby Foley completed the GTD podium.

The WeatherTech SportsCar Championship now heads to Road America for the IMSA Road Race Showcase on August 4. Live coverage begins at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app. 

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Meyer Shank Racing wins Petit Le Mans to take final DPi championship in dramatic finale

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Meyer Shank Racing outdueled Wayne Taylor Racing to win the Petit Le Mans and clinch the championship in a thrilling final race for the DPi division.

Tom Blomqvist, who started from the pole position, drove the No. 60 Acura ARX-05 to a 4.369-second victory over Pipo Derani in the No. 31 Action Express Cadillac.

“That was incredible,” Blomqvist told NBC Sports’ Matt Yocum. “I’ve never dug so deep in my life. The adrenaline. I did that for the guys. I was so motivated to win this thing this weekend. But I’ve got to thank everyone on the whole team.”

With co-drivers Oliver Jarvis and Helio Castroneves, Blomqvist helped MSR bookend its season-opening victory in the Rolex 24 at Daytona by winning Saturday’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season finale at Michelin Road Atlanta.

In between those two victories, the No. 60 earned five runner-up finishes to stay in the thick of the championship hunt and trail WTR’s No. 10 Acura by 14 points entering Saturday’s race.

WTR’s Filipe Albuquerque had a lead of more than 10 seconds over Blomqvist with less than 50 minutes remaining in the 10-hour race.

But a Turn 1 crash between the Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillacs brought out a yellow that sent both Acuras into the pits from the top two positions.

Though he entered in second, Blomqvist barely beat Albuquerque out of the pits, and he held the lead for the final 45 minutes.

Blomqvist said he gained the lead because of a shorter fuel fill after he had worked on being efficient in the second-to-last stint.

“The team asked a big job of me with the fuel; I had a big fuel number to hit,” Blomqvist said. “We knew that was probably our only chance. The yellow came at the right time and obviously we had a bit less fuel to fill up, so I was able to jump him and then it was just a matter of going gung-ho and not leaving anything on the line. And obviously, the opposition had to try too hard to make it work. I’m so thankful.”

Albuquerque closed within a few car lengths of Blomqvist with 14 minutes remaining, but he damaged his suspension because of contact with a GT car in Turn 1.

It’s the first prototype championship for Meyer Shank Racing, which also won the 2021 Indy 500 with Castroneves.

“We’ve had in the last four years, three championships for Acura, the Indy 500 win and the Rolex 24, it doesn’t get any better,” team co-owner Mike Shank told NBC Sports’ Kevin Lee.

It’s the third consecutive runner-up finish in the points standings for Wayne Taylor Racing, which won the first Daytona Prototype international championship in 2017. The premier category will be rebranded as the Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) class with the LMDh cars that will establish a bridge to racing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Kamui Kobayashi finished third in the No. 48 Cadillac of Action Express that also includes Jimmie Johnson and Mike Rockenfeller.

The podium showing marked Johnson’s last scheduled race in IMSA’s top prototype division. The seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion has raced in the No. 48 Ally Cadillac lineup as the Action Express entry has run the Endurance Cup races.

Johnson said a lack of inventory will preclude him having a 2023 ride in the top category. But he still is hopeful of racing the Garage 56 Next Gen Camaro in next year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans and possibly running in a lower class for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

“I’d love to be at Le Mans next year,” Johnson told NBC Sports’ Dillon Welch after his final stint Saturday. “I’d love to be at the Rolex 24. The series is going through a shake-up with the reconfiguration of the rules and classes, so I don’t have anything locked down yet, but I’m so thankful for this experience with Action. The support Ally has given us, Mr. Hendrick, Chad Knaus, all of Hendrick Motorsports. It’s been a fun two years, and I certainly hope I’m on the grid again next year.”