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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.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.”
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.
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.