Chip Ganassi Racing leads Cadillac 1-2-3 at Long Beach

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Last year, Chip Ganassi Racing’s #01 Cadillac DPI burst onto the scene as a somewhat surprising entry for a team that had been out of IMSA since Ford’s GT program ended. It was a strange fit, a one-car program with few sponsors led by 2020 F1 driver Kevin Magnussen. This year they lost Magnussen to Peugeot (then Peugeot lost him for a return to F1) but added a second car and a much clearer goal: to serve as a factory Cadillac team ahead of an LMDh program globally which will be very similar. to the two series program they have already raced for Ford in IMSA and WEC. Last year they behaved like a one-car team: one victory and a fourth place in the championship. This year they behaved like a factory operation. A win at Sebring for the #02 car showed the championship aspirations for both cars. Today, these aspirations have become much stronger.

Ganassi’s 1-2 finish at Long Beach was led by Renger van der Zande and Sebastien Bourdais in the #01 car, who fought back up front after early contact with a wall dropped him to last in the class and had help from behind most of the race as he pulled away on three late restarts without too much trouble. The #02 had a pretty straightforward run, and it became a 1-2-3 Cadillac with one to go when the #60 Meyer Shank Racing Acura collided with the #31 Action Express Racing Cadillac for third place. This opened the door for JDC Miller’s No. 5 and, with the Action Express car coming in fifth, Cadillac’s four-car contingent locked four of the top five spots in a race sponsored by series rival Acura.

In GTD Pro, what looked like the dominating speed of two new cars that struggled at Daytona quickly turned into disappointing results. The #3 Corvette C8.R was the dominant force in the green flag class at their only stop, but a penalty at that stop knocked the Corvette out and opened the door for the #1 Rahal Letterman Lanigan BMW M4 25. GT3 returns after a grid penalty. This hope faded when this car, on an offbeat strategy, briefly lost its driver’s side door during its only stop.

Misfortunes opened the door to the No.23 Heart of Racing Aston Martin. Driver Alex Riberas retained the lead after several late restarts, constantly fending off the #14 Lexus RC-F Vasser Sullivan to claim the team’s and manufacturer’s first win in the young GT3-based pro class. The Corvette recovered in third place.

In the pro-am GTD class, Paul Miller Racing’s #1 BMW delivered on the promise the pro-class RLL car couldn’t. Dominant stints from Madison Snow and Bryan Sellers not only kept the BMW ahead of the class the entire race, they kept pace with the GTD Pro peloton. Despite competing in the pro-am class, the Paul Miller Racing car finished third among all GT cars.

IMSA continues a brief journey through California to Laguna Seca in three weeks. After two endurance races and a street race, this will be the first sprint race of the year on a permanent track.

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