Ozz Negri and Pepe LePew win at Laguna Seca
MONTEREY, Calif. (AP) — Ozz Negri and John Pew put Michael Shank Racing back into Victory Lane for the first time since the 2012 Rolex 24 At Daytona, and Ryan Briscoe and Richard Westbrook gave the Ford GT team fielded by Chip Ganassi Racing its first victory Sunday in the two-hour IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
Negri took the lead in the No. 60 Honda-Ligier JS P2 shortly after a restart 48 minutes into the race. He pulled away from the field until his final pit stop of the race with slightly less than 50 minutes remaining dropped him briefly back to third in the running order. He retook the lead when Eric Curran gave up first place for his final pit stop in the No. 31 Action Express Racing Corvette DP with slightly more than 40 minutes remaining.
Negri won by 30.099 seconds over the No. 90 Visit Florida Racing Corvette DP of Marc Goossens and Ryan Dalziel. Negri and Pew's last win came alongside NASCAR racer AJ Allmendinger and the late Justin Wilson in the 50th Rolex 24 At Daytona.
''It was really hard to get through traffic and try to pick the right spots or you get a lot of pickup on the tires,'' Negri said. ''It was when I got a little bit of a gap that I could just manage that. We're enjoying the moment after racing here so many years without a win.''
In the GT Le Mans race, both of Ganassi's Ford GTs used a combination of speed and strategy to make their way to the front of the class field for much of the last hour with Joey Hand in the No. 66 leading Westbrook in the No. 67 car. Westbrook passed his teammate in the Turn 2 hairpin with 15 minutes remaining to take the lead, and Hand eventually stopped for a late splash of fuel with six minutes to go.
While the late pit stop relegated Hand and the No. 66 team to sixth at the checkered flag, the No. 67 team's strategy to save fuel throughout the race paid off. It was Briscoe's 12th win in major U.S. sports car competition and Westbrook's ninth. It also was Westbrook's third win at Laguna Seca.
''Today just seemed to be our day,'' Westbrook said. ''Ryan qualified on the first row. Then, we went into saving fuel. We had a problem in the pit stop so we had to get that back. So we thought we couldn't stop again to make it up. So it was up to the track and saving fuel.
''That's what you get when you race with Chip Ganassi. You get out of the box solutions and it was a great strategy call to get us up to the front.''