Joey Hand missed out on the GT Le Mans class pole position for the Rolex 24 at Daytona on Thursday by the tiniest of margins, with the American falling just 0.019 seconds short to Corvette Racing’s Jan Magnussen.
Nethertheless, Hand was able to put his Ford Chip Ganassi Racing machine into second place, and he felt the car, which he will share with Sebastien Bourdais and Dirk Muller, was the best it had been so far this year at the Daytona International Speedway.
“Of course we’re always looking to be fastest,” said Hand. “That’s why we’re on this team led by Chip Ganassi. He pushes all of us to be the best and we wanted the pole again this year. We basically wanted to repeat the whole weekend from last year.
“I feel like we had the best race car we’ve had all weekend today. I pushed. I drove as hard as I could.”
Hand admitted the wind played havoc with proceedings on Thursday, with it giving the car a few balance issues, but starting from the front row, it gives them a good opportunity to fight for the class victory in what is expected to be a tight battle throughout the twenty-four hours.
“It’s windy out there and it’s really throwing some curveballs into the balance of the car,” said Hand. “You had to learn quick. It was like racing a sprint car on Saturday night, trying to find out where the grip was on the dirt.
“The wind is in turn one, in your face, but it’s up the back on turn five, then it’s in your face again in the Bus Stop. The wind played havoc and you had to find some lines you don’t normally run.
“It’s hard to be so close to a pole, but we’re starting on the front row at Daytona. I think that should do. We can still win from there.”