Stronger Pursuits: GTP, GTD Classes Feature Top Teams Back On Podium in IMSA Long Beach Race

The #01 Cadillac Racing Chip Ganassi Entry Took Podium on One Set of Tires in a Risky Call.
Sahlens Six Hours at the Glen, June 2023
Sahlens Six Hours at the Glen, June 2023 / Brian Cleary/GettyImages

Chip Ganassi doubled up this weekend in two gutsy performances from both their IndyCar and IMSA programs, sweeping the weekend at Long Beach.

It all started on Saturday with the team's #01 CGR Cadillac Racing entry with Sebastien Bourdais and Regner van der Zande taking the top spot on the podium, followed by a strong effort from the defending series champions, the #31 Whelen Cadillac Racing team.

The #89 Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3, that practically is the GTD Pro car that is regulary run by the team, took podium for the team in what is most likely it's only race in the the GTD class.

For other manufacturers and teams, it was a drama filled weekend, featuring three full course yellows, resulting in some contenders taken out early, but it truly seemed like straight shot as to who would be leading by the end of the 100 minutes.

Cadillac Capitalizes

It's not uncommon the race strategy that Cadillac took in a race such as Long Beach that is only an 100 minute race, but it was a risk & reward scenario.

The #01 Cadillac Racing team showed podium level pace all weekend and kept themselves clean out of any race incidents. But, the strategy the team ultimately decided one could have gone up or down for Ganassi's group.

The conditions produced to be favorable for the weekend to run with the strategy and after suverying the idea in practice, the team decided to go for it on Saturday.

Overall, CGR deserved their race victory on Saturday after showing an impressive performance.

Outside of a few potential chances for the #31 Whelen Cadallic, there was no real contest.

It was suprising the team did not lose any time off of the usage of the same set of soft tires they had on from the beginning of the race but it did allow for an advantage in the fact that they did not have to warm their tires up on a out lap.

The team obviously still had to make a driver swap, but, the strategy was a logistically, smart move on the part of the team.

Taken Out

While Cadillac proved to be the dominant team of the weekend, their were some teams on the grid that proved to be getting in the mix that unfourtanetly had their race cut short.

Around the midway point of the race, the #40 Wayne Taylor Racing w/ Andretti Acura saw deja vu with Louis Deletraz behind the wheel for the team, colliding into the turn one tire barrier, similarly, to wear the sister #10 car had problems on the final lap of the race.

While Acura wasn't strong this weekend, cruising towards the middle of the GTP field, the #40 entry just came off a resurgence win for the team and had potential of bringing another solid run for the team again at the circuit.

The major incident happened though late in the race at the hairpin, creating what has been reffered to as "rush hour LA traffic."

The #25 RLL BMW of Connor De Phillipi who was behind the wheel when the incident happened attracted some significant damage with the #6 Porsche Penske Motorsports entry with Nick Tandy also getting involved.

These two incidents proved to be costly towards the run for the top position on podium and allowed for CGR's tandem to roll to victory, with only occasional suitors.

Final Thoughts

As we begin to turn our thoughts over to Laguna Seca, Long Beach provided a great peek into the west coast swing for the season.

Tire strategy proved to be costly in the 1 Hour & 40 minute sprint and it created an imbalance in descion making that gave CGR an advantage.

For CGR, with all the speculation going on and their future up in the air, there is a possible chance this could be the final race win the team sees in its time with Cadillac as the manufactuerer begins to prepare for departure after 2024.

Cadillac has allowed showed strong pace, especially early here in 2024 and maybe these set of races will catch some teams eyes as Cadillac continues to impress across the board.