Kevin Magnussen said it felt great to get the monkey off his back with his first IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship win after showing pace in earlier races this season.
Magnussen and co-driver Renger van der Zande took Chip Ganassi Racing back to victory lane in WeatherTech Championship competition for the first time since the Ford GT era with a “controlling” victory in their Cadillac DPi-V.R on Saturday in Detroit.
It came after a run of three consecutive fifth place finishes to open the season, which were unrepresentative of the team’s pace.
“This weekend has been extremely good on the team side. We’ve just been fast,” said Magnussen. “The whole season we’ve been fast, we just haven’t been able to get to the end in the lead.
“We’ve been leading a lot of laps this year. Finally we led the right lap.
“I’m very pleased for that. Chip Ganassi Racing had a very impressive weekend and I’m very happy to be able to contribute to that success.”
The No. 01 Cadillac led all but three laps in the 100-minute contest that was dominated by Cadillac DPi machinery.
“We controlled the race,” said van der Zande. “With Kevin [doing] a mega job in qualifying. We were up in front and just kept in control of it.
“You have to be lucky in street tracks with not having yellows at the wrong time. I think IMSA did a great job, even in qualifying, to give everybody a fair chance.
“The car was really nice. Like Daytona, Sebring, Mid-Ohio and here, I think we got the setup really well together.”
Having entered the weekend sixth in DPi points after several unlucky breaks earlier in the season, van der Zande and Magnussen have moved to fourth in the standings heading into the halfway point of the season at Watkins Glen later this month.
The duo now trail championship leaders Ricky Taylor and Filipe Albuquerque by 179 points in IMSA’s new-for-2021 points structure.
“It’s a smaller field than before so if you didn’t do well in a race then you better win some races because with big points you can make a stretch forward,” van der Zande said.
“Winning is very important. I think for the rest of the season — we’re not even halfway — we just need to keep winning for the points.”
Magnussen Feeling “Very Privileged” to be Winning in IMSA
The second-generation Dane said he’s been enjoying his time in the WeatherTech Championship with van der Zande and CGR.
Saturday’s win marked Magnussen’s first victory of any kind since 2013 when he won the Formula Renault 3.5 Series title with DAMS, prior to his seven-year stint in Formula 1 that came to an end last year.
“It feels great,” he said. “Coming here and knowing that I’m going to be able to fight for wins is a real privilege.
“To go racing with this organization and these awesome cars and these awesome tracks is really a dream. I feel very fortunate and very privileged and blessed to be able to do that.
“To come out of the weekend like this with the big trophy is pretty special.”