Nobody believed Chip Ganassi Racing would be gone from IMSA competition for long, and they were right. After a one-year absence, the team has returned to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and the Daytona Prototype international category.
The team’s return includes a driver lineup that features recent Formula One wheelman Kevin Magnussen and two-time Rolex 24 At Daytona winner Renger van der Zande.
They will drive the team’s Cadillac DPi as CGR fills the vacancy left when Wayne Taylor Racing departed the General Motors family to run Acuras this season.
The past is prologue for Chip Ganassi Racing’s return to prototype racing. The team has seven IMSA championships and eight Rolex 24 At Daytona triumphs. Just ask Scott Pruett about his jewelry case full of the coveted Rolex watches.
These feats were not a cakewalk according to CGR managing director Mike Hull.
“We were measured by the competition and it was stiff competition,” Hull said. “Frankly, when we started in DP (Daytona Prototype) racing in 2004, our race team was a solid group of people. I came from an open-wheel background and we did need to learn how to sports car prototype race. That was stiff competition and with the endurance races they handed it to us.
“We did our best just to keep up with those people who had been doing endurance racing for their entire lives.”
The team had a mountain to climb.
“It was a great learning experience. It took us a couple of seasons to do what we thought was how we needed to run those races, but we got there,” Hull explained. “We had a terrific pace of racing once we got going. The pure nature was that it was a lot of fun. We learned a lot about how to be successful from people who were already good at it. We had to move from infancy to adulthood pretty quickly. It was a terrific time for us.”
It’s a different story today.
“We’re really excited about the opportunity to be involved with Cadillac with a terrific driver lineup and our program put back together and it includes some of the people in the building who have been involved in sports car racing,” Hull added.
The Caddys are no strangers to victory either. Last year Cadillac scored its fourth consecutive Rolex 24 victory and also triumphed in the 12 Hours of Sebring at Sebring (Fla.) Int’l Raceway and the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta en route to a second-place finish in the championship. The 12-hour contest went down to the wire in what many say was the most exciting Sebring race in years last November.
Last year, Cadillac won the Rolex 24 victory, the 12 Hours of Sebring, the Grand Prix of Long Beach and Petit Le Mans. The 2018 season was true to form, winning the Rolex 24 on the way to Prototype championships in the driver, team and manufacturer categories.
There is little doubt that Cadillac will step up its game even further with the team at Chip Ganassi Racing.
Some DPi teams were scrambling during the short gap between the Sebring finale in November and the Roar Before the 24 at Daytona on Jan. 22-24.
Click below to continue reading.