Race Weekend Central

Chip Ganassi Racing Claims IMSA Long Beach Victory

Action Express Racing’s Pipo Derani was held up entering the pit lane by Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Global’s Danny Formal 35 minutes into the race Saturday (April 20). That, plus a fuel-only pit stop, was ultimately the difference as Chip Ganassi Racing was able to jump the Whelen Cadillac in the pits. From there, Renger van der Zande was able to hold on to win the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach with teammate Sebastien Bourdais.

“I think [the tires] were pretty old in the end,” van der Zande said after the race. “To
be honest, [Bourdais] just asked me how the tires were doing and I said, ‘not so good.’ I was just hanging on there at the end. But, man, this team is a fantastic team. I have to thank everyone. This is how to win races and I’m enjoying it. It’s good. I like it.”

Bourdais and van der Zande’s margin of victory was .564 seconds over Derani and Jack Aitken. Porsche Penske Motorsport’s Dane Cameron and Felipe Nasr were third, followed by teammates Mathieu Jaminet and Nick Tandy. Proton Competition’s Gianmaria Bruni and Mike Rockenfeller were fifth.

Derani started from the pole in his Cadillac and led early. Meanwhile, Bourdais managed to avoid trouble at the first turn like last year. Instead, he got past BMW M Team RLL’s Nick Yelloly in turn 1 to take second.

Derani was able to pull away from Bourdais in clear track. However, Bourdais could catch back up when Derani caught the GTD cars.

35 minutes in, the leaders started pitting. Derani stopped and got held up by Formal and had to lock up his tires. That requires a tire change. Bourdais pitted a couple of laps later and took only fuel in addition to the driver change. That was enough for van der Zande to jump Aitken.

Shortly after the stops, Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Global’s Louis Deletraz went a little too fast into turn 1 and crashed into the wall to bring out the yellow. That closed everyone back up.

As the race continued on, things got a little wild. With 20 minutes to go, Jaminet was spun out in the hairpin by Forte Racing’s Loris Spinelli. The spin caused a stack up. BMW M Team RLL’s Connor de Phillippi was hit on both ends and had significant damage.

Shortly afterwards, The Heart of Racing’s Spencer Pumpelly spun exiting turn 6 and hit the wall. That did not draw a yellow.

What did bring out the third caution was that de Phillippi, after making a pit stop to replace the nose on his BMW, slid into the tires at turn 6. He was ultimately able to continue after being pulled out of the tires, but later retired.

The green came back out with a little more than eight minutes to go. From there, van der Zande was able to hold off Aitken to take the win.

In GTD, VasserSullivan teammates Parker Thompson and Frankie Montecalvo started from pole in their Lexuses. However, there was trouble right at the start.

The stewards called Montecalvo for changing lanes prior to the start. That resulted in a drive-through penalty that dropped Montecalvo nearly to the rear of the field.

Montecalvo was able to make up a lot of time when the first yellow came out 10 minutes into the race. That occurred when Inception Racing’s Brendan Iribe got loose exiting turn 5 and hit the wall. Wright Motorsports’ Adam Adelson had nowhere to go and ran into Iribe’s McLaren.

Iribe was out on the spot. Adelson was able to limp his Porsche back to the pits, but the left front corner of the car was heavily damaged. Adelson did not return to the track as well.

Thompson was able to pull away at will from the rest of the GTD pack. Conquest Racing’s Albert Costa was able to get by Montecalvo in the hairpin on the first lap to take second. Despite this, Thompson was still able to pull away by a little bit every lap.

Minimum drive-time in the GTD was reduced to 35 minutes for this race. Since teams could go the distance from there on fuel, teams chose to stop as early as they could.

The stops ultimately didn’t pull VasserSullivan’s one-off No. 89 out of the lead. It did allow Turner Motorsport to move into second with their BMW.

Despite the penalty, VasserSullivan’s No. 12 was still very fast. With Jack Hawksworth in the car, they had gotten all the way back up to fourth. Then, Hawksworth hit the wall exiting turn 5. The contact broke the rear suspension on his Lexus, ending his day.

Ultimately, no one could challenge Barnicoat in the second half of the race as the GTD Pro regular and Thompson picked up the class victory in ninth overall.

Barnicoat and Thompson’s margin of victory was 1.449 seconds over Turner Motorsport’s Robby Foley and Patrick Gallagher. Korthoff Preston Motorsports’ Mikael Grenier and Mike Skeen were third in their Mercedes, followed by Gradient Racing’s Stevan McAleer and Sheena Monk. Proton Competition’s Ford Mustang GT3 for Giammarco Levorato and Corey Lewis were fifth.

IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach Unofficial Results

Next up for WeatherTech teams is the Motul Course de Monterey powered by Hyundai N at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. The race will air live on NBC May 12 at 3 p.m. ET.

About the author

Phil Allaway has three primary roles at Frontstretch. He's the manager of the site's FREE e-mail newsletter that publishes Monday-Friday and occasionally on weekends. He keeps TV broadcasters honest with weekly editions of Couch Potato Tuesday and serves as the site's Sports Car racing editor.

Outside of Frontstretch, Phil is the press officer for Lebanon Valley Speedway in West Lebanon, N.Y. He covers all the action on the high-banked dirt track from regular DIRTcar Modified racing to occasional visits from touring series such as the Super DIRTcar Series.

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