ACURAS RULE!

Acura Team Penske cars

The Acura Team Penske teammates pretty much dominated the penultimate round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, starting and finishing first and second – but not in their qualifying order. The winner was Dane Cameron from Northern California, with co-driver Juan Pablo Montoya in No.7 Acura. The pole position car came in second, with Ricky Taylor and Helio Castroneves. Third was Philipe Derani in No.31 in Whelen Engineering Racing Cadillac with Felipe Nasr. He had been chasing Ricky Taylor/No. 10 Minolta Konica Cadillac for much of the race, and passed him in the last 11 minutes. The Margin of Victory was 9.84 seconds and the leader ran 121 laps. The top six cars finished on the lead lap.

Dane Cameron

Cameron’s victory cinched the manufacturer’s championship for Acura.

The weather was clearly much milder than previous days, at 71 F degrees ambient and 84 F track temperatures. The 270-mile race race green, with no Safety Cars.

This was the 15th sports car victory for Cameron, a lucky 13 in the WeatherTech Series. For teammate JPM, it was his sixth in sports cars, and third in WeatherTech. The veteran driver was motivated, as Montoya turned the fastest DPi race lap on Lap 5 at 105.096 mph.

Cameron said “It feels pretty good to win here. It’s especially satisfying to win here after giving away that one a couple of years ago. I grew up in Sonoma, just a few hours north of here. I spent a lot of times here as a kid watching Champ Car races and Formula Atlantics and stuff. I probably watched this guy (referring to his teammate) and Helio in IndyCars when they were here. So it’s nice to get the prototype victory.” Cameron has won here at Laguna Seca, but in GT cars. This was his first prototype win.

Montoya said “It’s a big relief before Petit (Petit Le Mans.) We made sure we had tires at the end.”

There were seven overall lead changes among four drivers: Cameron-75 laps; Ricky Taylor/No.7 Acura-38 laps; Jordan Taylor/No.10 Minolta Konica Cadillac-1 lap; and Tristan Nunez/No.77 Mazda Team Joest-7 laps.

No.52 LMP2 ORECA

In LMP2, with only the two ORECA cars, both made the podium. Matthew McMurray took the Checkered Flag in No.52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA, with teammate Dalton Kellett. McMurray said the cooler temperatures didn’t help that much for tire management. Runner up was Cameron Cassels in No.38 Performance Tech Motorsports, with co-driver Kyle Masson, who turned the fastest LMP2 race lap of 101.764 mph.

Dirk Mueller & Joey Hand

Dirk Mueller & Joey Hand

This was the Joey Hand’s and his team’s first GTLM win this season in No.66 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT, with co-driver Dirk Mueller. “I’ve been trying since 1998 to win here on my home track. This is more about the people around me, more so about the team. It didn’t start out well. It was pretty bad at first. We went from worst car here to best car here. This is my race for camping here, with my wife and friends. This one really feels really good. This track stands out on any race calendar, but especially for me a California guy.”

No.66 Chip Ganassi Ford GT

Tommy Milner/No.4 Corvette Racing Corvette C7 R ran the fastest GTLM race lap of 97.660 mph.

In the last ten minutes of the race, it was Gutsy GT driving, with the two factory Corvettes, Antonio Garcia No.3 and Tommy Milner/No.4 with John Edwards in No.24 Team RLL BMW – and slicing, dicing, chasing, side by side, nose to tail, nearly or maybe actually touching, but keeping it on the pavement and in forward motion. Fun to watch! In the end, Edwards prevailed ahead of Garcia and Milner, finishing second through fourth in class.

Corey Lewis & Bryan Sellers

Corey Lewis & Bryan Sellers

Bryan Sellars won GTD class in No.48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini, with co-driver Corey Lewis, who also ran the Lamborghini Super Trofeo race race. Lewis said each car completely different. The Trofeo series car was a street chassis. Sellars said their GTD win was a credit to the engineer, controlling tire degradation. “I think you have to look at this race, a lot of times it’s put on drivers. A lot of times it’s put on crew. But I have to say today it was all down to our engineer, Lars Giersing. He did a fantastic job, the car was great. One of the things we focused on this week was tire degradation and we were able to just run consistent and ultimately that was what was able to get us the win.”

No.48 Paul Miller Lamborghini

Sunday started very differently than the previous three days, in that not only was there fog, there was a deep layer of fog so pervasive that the start was delayed five minutes, after which the fog lifted just enough for visibility corner to corner. The ambient temperature was 57 degrees F and the track was only 60 degrees F. Five drivers chose not to go out. Felipe Albuquerque/No.5 Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac was the fastest DPi with a lap of 1:16.830; Dalton Kellett/No.52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA Cadillac was fastest in LMP2, at 1:20.030. Joey Hand, a local NorCal driver, topped GTLM with a lap of 123.193 in No.66 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT. Joe Holton’s fast time of 1:25.751 was best for GTLD, driving No.76 Compass Racing McLaren.

IMSA Foggy Pre Grid

No.5, No.76 driving into the fog to Turn 4

Foggy Warmup

Foggy Mountain Breakdown

All cars passed Tech, and there are no updated standings for the Driver’s Championship.

The IMSA season finale is Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta, a 10-hour endurance race on 12 October 2019. It will be televised live on NBC starting at noon ET.

RICKY’S RECORD RUN

Pole Car No.7 Acura Team Penske

Ricky Taylor put the No.7 Acura Team Penske Acura DPi on the pole for Sunday’s IMSA Monterey Grand Prix with a record lap of 1:15.035. This broke the record set last year by his brother, Jordan.Taylor’s teammate is Helio Castroneves. The No.6 sister car will start on the front row based on the time set by Juan Pablo Montoya. JPM had been fastest overall Friday at 1:16.003 on the 2.238-mile elevated road course for the penultimate round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, which just happens to be running at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. Montoya’s teammate is Dane Cameron who grew up racing on the Monterey race track.

Ricky Taylor

This is the fourth pole position for Team Penske, with each of the four drivers now having scored one. Taylor was the last of the four to get a pole, and he felt it was his turn “to pull his weight.” His race strategy includes “keeping the tires under us, and be there at the end.”

No.7 Acura Team Penske DPi

No.7 Acura Team Penske

No. Acura Team Penske DPi

Third through fifth in the DPi class were Jordan Taylor, with co-driver Renger van de Zande in No.10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R; Tristan Nunez in No.77 Mazda Team Joest DPi, with teammate Olier Jarvis; and Felipe Nasr in No.31 Whelen Engineering Racing Cadillac DPi, with co-driver Pipo Derani.

Kyle Masson put No.38 Performance Tech Motorsports ORECA on the LMP2 pole at 1:16.817. His co-driver is Cameron Cassels.

Jesse Krohn is the pole sitter for GTLM in No.24 BMW Team RLL BMW M8 GTE, with co-driver John Edwards.His lap was 1:21.557.

Corey Lewis is on the GTD pole with Bryan Sellers in No.48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3, at 1:24.962.

Thirty-one of the 32 drivers qualified. Patrick Lindsey crashed No.73 Park Place Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R in Turn 10. He spun out and hit the concrete wall near the grid gate hard three times. The car damage included all four corners with all wheels going in different directions. It took 13 people to load up the car onto the rollback tow truck.

Justin Bell & Tommy Kendall

Two people who will no doubt be talking about young drivers Ricky Taylor and Conor Daly are Justin Bell and Tommy Kendall, hosts of The Torque Show, which will air at least once daily during the Monterey weekend. It is live streaming and covers every round of the IMSA Series.

The Lamborghini Super Trofeo Race was won by Conor Daly/No.46 Precision Performance Motorsports and teammate Brandon Gdovic, racing in the Pro Class. His Margin of Victory was 1.825 seconds ahead of Corey Lewis/No.29 and co-driver Richy Antinucci in the Pro/Am Class. Daly turned the fastest race lap of 1:25.865/93.830 mph. Gdovic had started the race third on the grid. The race was live-streamed on imsatv or squadracorse.lamborghini.com/live-streaming with commentary from IMSA Radio. Daly will start Sunday’s race on pole.

Other class winners were James Sofronas racing by himself in No.14 GMG Racing in the Am and he turned the fastest race lap in that class – 1:26.657/92.973 moh; and Ashton Harrison/No.43 Prestige Performance/WTR in the LB Cup class, who turned its fastest race lap of 1:27.730/91.836 mph. His co-driver was Stephanie Cemo.

Conor DalyAfterwards Daly said it was nice racing again on the iconic circuit. He hadn’t raced here for many years, the last being in 2004. Daly loves Laguna Seca, saying it is a very technical track.

Daly is slated to race the Laguna round of IndyCar next weekend, reuniting him with Andretti Autosport. The Lamborghini rounds at Laguna Seca being at Laguna one week ahead of Daly’s IndyCar run wasn’t part of the plan when Daly signed on for the Lamborghini series back in February. At that time he had nothing firmed up for the season. Daly is slated to race the Laguna round of IndyCar next weekend, reuniting him with Andretti Autosport.

Sunday’s schedule calls for Warmups, Driver Autograph session, another IMSA Fan Walk, track VIP Hot Laps, and some racing – Lamborghini’s second race, the feature Monterey SportsCar Championship Powered by McLaren race lasting 2 hours 40 minutes, followed by the second Porsche race. The IMSA race starts at 12:05 pm local time/3:05pm ET. This is the first time an IMSA race has been shown live on NBC TV.

THE HILLS ARE ALIVE WITH THE SOUNDS

Turn Three

It’s race day Sunday at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for the Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix. The skies are blue and clouds are few. It’s time for warm-ups and races.

The TUDOR United SportsCar Championship had its twenty minute warm-up interrupted by a Red Flag for MARTIN FUENTES/No.7 Starworks Motorsport ORECA FLM09 Chevrolet spun and stalled at Turn 11 bringing out the Red Flag for nine minutes.

Fastest in each class were: PC-OSWALDO NEGRI JR/No.60 Michael Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian Riley DP Ford; PC-SEAN RAYHALL/No.25 8Star Motorsports ORECA FLM09 Chevrolet; GTLM-ANTONIO GARCIA/No.3 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C7 R Chevrolet; and GTD-DION von MOLKE/No.35 Flying Lizard Motorsports Audi R8 LMS Audi. The times were slower than Saturday’s speeds.

Michael Lewis

Michael Lewis

Polesitter MICHAEL LEWIS/No.98 Cmp.Mot/Curb-Agajanian won the first Sunday Porsche GT3 Cup race, flag to flag as leader. He was pretty excited afterwards, winning his first-ever California road race. He really likes “this legendary track.” Lewis got his start at 12 in quarter midgets and went through all those kinds of open wheel cars – except winged sprints, before going to Europe for three years racing formula cars. That transition wasn’t that difficult, he said. But, it was a ‘strange’ transition from European formula cars to sports cars. And he’s loving it.

The Motorsport Safety Foundation was created by HENRIQUE CISNEROS, who is wearing three hats (or helmet) this weekend. He’s co-owner of the No.30 MOMO/NGT Motorsport Porsche 911 GT America Porsche, co-driver in that TUDOR Championship GTD car, and he now has the foundation. Cisneros co-drove last year with SEAN EDWARDS, and Laguna Seca was the last race that Sean won before he was tragically killed as a passenger with driving student in a motorsports accident at Queensland Raceway in Australia. It was at that point Cisneros founded the Motorsport Safety Foundation, dedicated to improving safety standards in motorsport. MSF has several goals: to promote safety awareness, fund projects and provide solutions as well as having a forum for drivers and participants, such as volunteer race officials and marshals, to voice concerns.

Motorsport Safety Foundation Ambassadors

Motorsport Safety Foundation Ambassadors

At this weekend’s TUDOR Championship weekend, six MSF Volunteers will be doing Pit Notes. These ambassadors, as they think of themselves, are all volunteers, traveling to all the sports car races. They were mostly recruited from volunteer ranks of corner workers and other officials in Sports Car Club of America. At the beginning of the season Cisneros asked what he could do to help them be safe and do their job. As fire suits are no longer required in the pits at sports car races, the ambassadors asked for protective clothing. MSF, with help from MOMO, provided brand new triple-layer, 2014 spec fire suits which are being worn for the first time this weekend.

WHAT A DIFFERENCE A DAY MAKES!

Foggy Laguna morning

What a difference makes at Mazda Raceway Laguna Raceway in Monterey CA. The fog has rolled in big time, temperature has dropped to 52 degrees F, the humidity is pegged at 89 percent. This puts a crimp in the already packed into the three-day, five series, and seven-race schedule for the Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix Powered by Mazda weekend. Laguna, which has its own microclimate between the Monterey Bay and inland Salinas area, is known for its rolling fog. The sun tried to peek through and beat a hasty retreat, leaving the fog to blanket and un-blanket the corners one by one on the 2.238, twelve turn elevated road circuit. Once there was visibility from one turn to the next, the first race of the day took off. The SCCA Pro Racing Mazda MX-5 Cup race started fifteen minutes late, and the clock started on the second pace lap for the originally-planned 45-minute race. Due to time constraints, the timed race will be shortened to end at its usual time.

Saturday’s schedule calls for the Mazda race, Porsche GT3 Cup qualifying, the first of two races for the Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo Series, two one-hour long practices with the combined classes of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, a 150-minute race for the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge, and four single-class qualifying sessions for the TUDOR Championship cars. The day’s on-course activities are slated to end at 6:15pm PT.

Foggy Laguna paddock

FAST FRIDAY

Trent Hindman

Trent Hindman

TRENT HINDMAN of New Jersey is the overall pole sitter for Saturday’s race in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge Race. He set a new qualifying track record with a lap of 1:34.948/83.970mph in his No.46 Fall-Line Motorsports BMW M3, which is in the Grands Sports Class. His co-driver is JOHN EDWARDS of Ohio. He is hoping the third time will be the charm for him this season, after two runner-up positions. Historically, he said, Laguna has been a good track for the team. The teammates currently lead the GS points standings, and BMW leads the GS Manufacturer standings.

Elliott Skeer

Elliott Skeer

ELLIOTT SKEER of San Diego CA put the No.3 CJ Wilson Racing Mazda MX-5 on the Super Touring Class pole for Saturday’s race, with a lap of . As qualifying driver, he will start the race, in – position overall. Skeer used to race the MX-5 Cup Series, has been to Laguna Seca before, and really loves the track. He and teammate TYLER McQUARRIE of Danville CA in Northern California, were fastest in the early morning session, and fourth in class later as the track heated up.

MICHAEL LEWIS/No.98 Cmp Mot/Curb-Agajanian has the pole position for the first of two races in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama Series. Young Lewis turned a 1:29.110/90.414mph. There are 33 entries, and 32 qualified. Lewis, son of STEVE LEWIS who sold the PRI Show to SEMA has been racing Formula 3 in Europe for the past three years.

Andrew Palmer No.14

Andrew Palmer No.14

ANDREW PALMER/No.14 GMG Racing has the pole position for the Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo race for the first race Saturday morning. His record-breaking lap was 1:27.831/91.731mph. Palmer had been fastest in the second Friday practice and fourth in the first. There are 14 cars in the race, and Palmer is in the Pro Class, one of six. The rest are in the Amateur class.

The cars in the Mazda MX-5 Cup Presented by BFGoodrich series had a busy day Friday. They ran first, last and in between. After two practice sessions, they qualified and raced at the end of the day.

Pole position went to KENTON KOCH/No.12 ALARA Racing, with a lap of 1:42.096/79.814. Fastest in the Skip Barber class was DRAKE KEMPER/No.99 Royal Rugby, with a lap of 1:47.572/77.789. He qualified nineteenth overall of the 28 cars. ARA MALKHASSIAN/No.11 ALARA Racing was fastest in P1 and overall. The third ALARA Racing driver, CHRISTIAN SZYMCZAK/No.34 withdrew.

Generally the cars were faster in the 8am session than the one held at 11:30am, as the track and air warmed up. ROB FOLEY/No.93 Skip Barber Mazda MX-5 was also fastest in P1 and overall. In P2, SEBASTIA LANDY/No.41 Excitations.com/AMG was fastest, with ZACH LEE/No.60 fastest in the Skip Barber group. That group could be called MX-5-Lite. The cars have older, bigger tires, less horsepower and other differences.

John Morton

John Morton

Among the group is a special anniversary car – No.68 Mazda Motorsports/BFGoodrich Skip Barber Mazda. JOHN MORTON was one of three BFG drivers who drove the No.68 Jim Busby Racing Lola T-616 Mazda with BFGoodrich tires in the C-2 class at LeMans, and won. The other two drivers were JOHN O’STEEN and YOSHAMI KATAYAMA. Morton is driving a MX-5 garbed in the same iconic livery – car, helmet and driver’s suit. Two of the LeMans Lola’s, owned by JOHN DAVIS, are on display in the paddock.

JOHN DEAN/No.16 Sick Sideways Mazda won the race, which was marred by a six-lap full course yellow for an accident on Lap 2 in Turn 4A betweens No.27 CHARLES PAQUIN MX-5 Cup and CHRIS BEAUFAIT/No.69 Skip Barber Mazda. The drivers are OK – they walked from the tow truck back to the paddock. BEN ALBANO/No.61 Skip Barber won that class, finishing fourteenth overall.

On another note, the Reverend RICHARD ANDERSON, head of Motorsports Ministries which tends to the sports car races, passed away last week. Sunday at the track there is a special Sunday Chapel Service dedicated to him, and his Memorial Service Saturday in Santa Rosa will be streamed live for viewing at Laguna Seca, 11am PT in the Skip Barber top floor classroom in the paddock.

BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD

Starter Stand

It was another great weather day at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for the first of three days of sports car racing at the Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix powered by Mazda. The moderate upper seventies temperatures with light breeze was more tolerable than Thursday’s record-breaking 90F.

The featured series, TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, will not be on track Friday, but will have much of Saturday’s track time.
Friday has all the support series sanctioned byIMSA, plus the SCCA Pro Racing Mazda MX-5 Cup Presented by BFGoodrich.

TRENT HINDMAN and JOHN EDWARDS/No.46 Fall-Line Motorsports BMW M3 were the fastest drivers overall in the Continental Tire Championship SportsCar Challenge, and also quickest in the Grand Sports class. Their time was 1:36.181/83.767mph. In the Super Touring class, TYLER McQUARRIE and MARC MILLER/No.3 CJ Wilson Racing Mazda MX-5 were tops and twenty-sixth overall. Their time was 1:40.023/80.549mph.

Sixty of the 61 Continental Championship cars were on track

ARI MALKHASSIAN/No.11 ALARA Racing was the fastest MX-5 Car in the first practice at 1:41.730/79.197 mph, and in the subcategory for the Skip Barber MX-5 cars, ROBBY FOLEY/No.93 was the quickest at 1:44.428/77.151 mph. At one point one of the Mazdas clocked 100 mph on the radar gun at the top of the crest just past Start-Finish. This group has its first race at 5:45pm Friday and Race Two is 8am Saturday. Both races are 45-minutes long. Twenty-eight of the twenty-nine entries were on course.

JOHN FARANO/No.63 Jota Corse was the fastest overall and fastest in the Pro Class of the Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo cars for Practice One. His time was 1:29.961/90.566 mph. The fastest Amateur and second fastest overall was TIM BELL/No.81 Mitchum Motorsports. There are fifteen cars in the group, with five Pro drivers, and 11 Amateur drivers. One car has two Amateur drivers. All were on track.

After lunch there will be more practice, qualifying and a race.

FOX Sports is airing the TUDOR Championship races live on Sunday. In the booth will be BOB VARSHA, CALVIN FISH and DORSEY SCHROEDER. Pit Lane duties will be handled by JAMIE HOWE and BRIAN TILL. The Pre-Race Show will be hosted by JUSTIN BELL.

MX-5 cars on Pre-Grid