By: Ashley McCubbin
No matter what series Chip Ganassi Racing competes in, there’s a saying that all of his drivers repeat – “Chip Likes Winners.”
After spending the past couple years battling in Formula 1 struggling to earn top-five finishes, Kevin Magnussen will be engraved in that culture, as he will compete full-time for CGR in the IMSA WeatherTech Championship.
“It’s really refreshing,” he told POPULAR SPEED. “That’s why I came – I think that’s what I’m looking forward to the most, having a chance to go for the win. I think everyone in the DPi category ahs a shot of winning, which I think is great, but I think we have a really good chance and I look forward to it. I think it’s great to be with an organization that’s all about winning. Chip told me the simple thing – that the business model of Chip Ganassi Racing is winning; that’s what drives this team and keeps it going, and that’s the only thing they exist to do is to win. That makes me happy.”
Magnussen was the second competitor to drive the No. 01 entry during the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona, saying he felt comfortable in the car, despite starting off the stint with an issue on pit road. A driver error in failing to plug in the radio cord resulted in not hearing the call to leave his stall timely, seeing the team drop from the lead to third. The new hire showed his ability, though, regaining the runner-up spot before handing off the controls to Scott Dixon.
While things are going well, he admits it’s very different than what he has been used to over the past couple of years, having to get back into the habit of focusing on mechanical set-up.
“It’s not new to me as I worked on it before, but my time in Formula 1, it’s been forgotten a little bit, put to the side. It’s been interesting and I’ve had a lot to learn,” he commented. “Of course, driving the car is a lot different too as it’s a SportsCar versus a single-seater, it’s a lot heavier and they behave in different ways, but they are fun to drive and it’s nice to have a different sound and feel underneath the car. But yeah, I’m really enjoying it. It’s certainly very different and I’m learning a lot about it.”
He added the biggest challenge when he got out on-track for the event, was the traffic, ensuring no contact was made while not losing speed or time by getting stuck behind a slower vehicle. It’s why he spent hours studying various on-board footage prior to the event to try and learn the best places to pass each car.
“It’s so intense,” he said. “It’s so much more intense than anything I’ve tried before because several times a lap, you’re racing and never get in a zone too much. It’s really intense and I can’t wait to get back in the car later on.”
Knowing he will get behind the wheel for a second time during the race, he is hopeful of improving upon a little bit of everything as a driver.
“I don’t think it was a bad stint,” he stated. “We were the quickest out there and gaining on everything, so I think it was a very good first stint. I think I just need to keep my head cool and not make mistakes. That’s what’s really going to decide this race.”
While this is just for the first event of the year, it’s not lost on Magnussen the significance of the event.
“It just has a great history and it’s just one of those races that – there are a few races around the world that are really special,” he commented. “I guess for whatever reason, it attracts the best competitors, best drivers, and I think the best fans. This weekend will have some COVID restrictions, but it’s just one of the favourites, and it has a great history and if you look back at the people that have won here and competed here, there’s something special to it.
“My dad has been racing for 20 plus years around her and he’s been telling me how special it is, and it’s just one of those races and I’m excited to do it.”