If IMSA opened its season with the 23 Hours of Daytona and followed it with the 11 Hours of Sebring, Cadillac Chip Ganassi Racing just might be undefeated this year in the DPi category.
Together, the No. 01 has been a force over those 34 hours of WeatherTech SportsCar Championship action in Florida, but in both events, problems late in the running conspired against quality finishes for Renger van der Zande, Kevin Magnussen, and enduro teammate Scott Dixon.
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Despite all the potential shown by CCGR, the team enters this weekend’s 2h40m sprint race at Mid-Ohio holding sixth—next to last–in the DPi standings. Given two months to stew over all they’ve come so close to achieving, the team’s managing director, Mike Hull, is looking to Mid-Ohio as the event to get the job done.
“I don’t know if it validates the hard work that everybody has put in for us to be ready for those two races, or if it invalidates it for being unable to close the deal, but those two races truly define who you are going forward,” Hull told RACER. “You’ve got to be in it to win it, and we were in it, but we didn’t win it.
“We were in good positions in both of those races at the wrong moment in time. The teams that we raced against were ready to race at the end of the race, and we should have been. So, if there was anything for us to be learning, it’s that we need to be better prepared at the end of the race, no matter what the length of time, no matter what the lap count is at the end. Whether it’s an endurance race or a sprint race. Did we cause some of it? Certainly, we did. Did we cause all of it? No, we did not.”
Despite their pace at Daytona (above) and Sebring, the No. 01 Cadillac Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillac sits sixth in the DPi standings entering this weekend’s IMSA round at Mid-Ohio. (Michael Levitt/Motorsport Images)
Since Sebring, Hull, along with CGR’s Mike O’Gara and Steve Eriksen have preached patience to the No. 01 Cadillac crew.
“We believe in ourselves and work really hard to win, but we also realize that knowing how to win means you re-craft yourself when the race is over and you go the next one,” Hull added. “You don’t do it the same way. You re-craft to create the momentum it takes to win. We’re not assuming what we did at Sebring nor what we did at Daytona is going to get us to the winner’s circle at Mid-Ohio or anywhere else. It’s a never-ending reinvention process, for sure.
“In our case, in our building, we’ve got great people, great drivers, but we can’t assume what worked for us for most of those first two races will work again at the next race. That means we keep trusting in each other and keep working to identify the ways in which we can do better, collectively.”
A pair of wins and ownership of the 36 Hours of Florida title would have been a perfect start to CCGR’s existence, but Hull can also find the value in the disappointment that followed.
“These things are never guaranteed, for any team,” he said. “So, while it would have been marvelous for Chip Ganassi Racing and Cadillac to have won at Sebring and Daytona, we did not, and in hindsight, maybe it came too easily for us, running as well as we did.
“I never know exactly how to process things like this because if we’d won one of them, or even both, we’d be riding high, but does that mask some of the things needed to be done at a higher level? Since we can’t change the past, all we can do is go forward with what we’ve learned and do better next time.”