Dirk Mueller says he “gave it his all” in Saturday’s Bubba Burger Sports Car Grand Prix at Long Beach, although came up short of a podium finish after running out of fuel on the final lap.
The German and co-driver Sebastien Bourdais, who was filling in for Joey Hand this weekend, were credited with a fourth place result in GT Le Mans, despite their No. 66 Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT not crossing the finish line.
Mueller was running second at the time behind the eventual class-winning No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR of Earl Bamber, who took over the lead on Lap 37 after the Ford reportedly had an issue with its pit speed limiter in the hairpin.
“I was really having a lot of fun,” he told Sportscar365.
“The car was good and the team gave me a good car, obviously and I was able to push to maintain the pressure on him.
“It was getting closer and worse depending on traffic. Then two laps from the end they said we need a little fuel save. I actually did a big fuel save the last two laps and thought everything would be good.
“Then out of [Turn] 8, all of a sudden the engine shut off. It was out and I couldn’t do anything.”
A wild finish in the GTLM Class in the @IMSA Sports Car Grand Prix of Long Beach!
— NBC Sports (@NBCSports) April 13, 2019
A nowhere-to-go Jan Magnussen in the No. 3 Corvette C7.R plowed into the back of Mueller, which turned the Ford around and caused heavy damage to both cars.
While Magnussen managed to limp to the line to finish second, Mueller was left stranded on track.
“It’s a bummer we lost a hard-fought podium because I gave it my all,” Mueller said. “That was everything.”
The No. 66 Ford, which started fourth in the hands of Bourdais, benefitted from a bold move by the FCGR crew to pit under green with 1 hour and 7 minutes remaining for its one-and-only stop.
Moments later, a full course caution came out for the No. 55 Team Joest Mazda RT24-P of Harry Tincknell, which briefly stopped on track and led to the remainder of the GTLM field pitting under yellow and Mueller assuming the class lead.
Mueller said the “mega strategy” by the team of pitting early and hoping for a yellow paid dividends and put him in position to contend for the win.
“That was the only thing we could have done because the way the BoP is right now,” he said.
“We don’t have the strength to win races by ourselves so we have to leapfrog other guys. That worked for a little bit today.”