Chip Ganassi admitted his nervousness about Ford’s chances in the Rolex 24 at Daytona despite his cars showing unparalleled rivalry throughout the race, which marked his team’s 200th victory.
The pair of Ford GTs led all but ten laps in the GT Le Mans ranks en route to the car’s third 24-hour win after claiming victory at Daytona last year and Le Mans in 2016.
The Fords’ performance advantage over the rest of the field didn’t allow Ganassi any rest, however, who admitted his uncertainty.
“It’s obviously been a great win and a great weekend,” Ganassi said. “In terms of the win, it was one of the most nerve-racking races.
“When you come out of the blocks fast like that, and we were leading it after three or four hours or something, after a certain amount of hours, it’s your race to lose.
“It’s one thing not to win the race but another if you lose it. It was our race to lose and those are the worst races from my point of view because everything is out of my control.”
The team’s 200 victories include 103 in IndyCar, 56 in sports cars, 39 in stock cars and two in rallycross, and the first was in IndyCar scored by Michael Andretti at Surfers Paradise on March 20, 1994.
Its sports car wins include eight class victories at the Rolex 24 with two 1-2 finishes.
Ganassi downplayed the event in the post-race press conference, instead wishing to celebrate the race result itself rather than look at the bigger success.
“I think in terms of the 200 wins, there’s a time and a place to talk about that,” he said. “We’re the kind of team that just focuses on trying to do the best we can today, and of course yesterday, we tried that too.
“That’s how we approach every day. Today’s win is about here at Daytona, about the Rolex, about these three guys here.
“When we’re talking to our grandkids and we talk about 200 wins and Michael’s win in Surfers Paradise or Montoya’s win at Indy or Dixon’s win at Indy, or the first time we won the Rolex and those kind of things.
“We’ll have plenty of time to talk about that but we’re just the type of team that says ‘Let’s try and do the best job we can do today’ and ‘What can we do about what’s in front of us today.’ That’s how we approach this.”
Today’s victory was the first for driver Richard Westbrook in the event, who was especially pleased to mark the occasion with CGR’s 200th win.
“It’s only taken 12 goes!” Westbrook said. “I always seem to come second in 24-hour races.
“Racing that hard for 24 hours, there was just nothing in it. It felt like ages we were just one second apart. It was incredible, just so intense.
“I thought we put on a really good show and there was no team orders so we raced hard. To come away with our 200th win for Chip and with Dan Gurney on our car as well, it was just so sweet.”
The Brit explained that he had considered his chances of victory before the race, and didn’t expect difficult competition from all of his competitors.
“When I was weighing up the chances before the race, there was a one-in-four chance,” he said. “It was between us and the Corvettes or maybe the Ferrari thrown in.
“If we kept our nose clean, those chances were going to get better and better. That’s what we did. We had good pace, we executed really well.
“We’ve got lots of new guys on our pit crew so to come away with a win straight off the bat was just incredible.”