The last time Helio Castroneves and handful of the modern Acura Team Penske IMSA team were racing in Monterey, they were tasked with beating Acura as part of the Penske Racing Porsche RS Spyder program.
Back in 2008, the four-hour American Le Mans Series race served as the season finale, and with the fierce battle raging between Penske’s Porsches and the three Acura teams vying for the LMP2 championship, the Brazilian was drafted in to give The Captain another rocket to use against the Japanese brand.
Although Andretti Green Racing’s Tony Kanaan and Franck Montagny would come away with the nighttime victory, strong finishes from the Penske Porsches were enough to secure the Teams’ and Drivers’ titles.
Some of the people tasked with driving and working on the new ARX-05 DPis were here 10 years ago as part of the Penske effort, and of the familiar faces, Travis Law grew up in the Porsche RS Spyder program.
With his talents on display in the ALMS, Law would eventually be moved to Penske’s IndyCar team, and with the championship he earned last year as Josef Newgarden’s chief mechanic, filling in for the weekend in Monterey — trying to help Acura this time around — has been a joyful experience.
“The sights and sounds are pretty similar, and here we are, same results, all fighting to win,” Law (pictured above) told RACER. “It’s really good, all about Team Penske, but when they gave me a hat this morning, I had to look at [the Acura] logo twice…”
The odd 2008-2018 juxtaposition of rallying on Acura’s behalf has also struck Castroneves, who is making his first start at Laguna Seca since the 2008 ALMS Acura-Porsche showdown.
“It’s great to be back; it was different last time because I was only here for a minute, I didn’t know the car, but this place is unbelievable,” said Castroneves who, like a decade ago, has Penske’s Jonathan Diuguid engineering his car. “We had a big fight with Tony [Kanaan], Gil de Ferran, David Brabham and all the Acura guys. And the race was longer; it finished after dusk, and the sights were unbelievable. Now we’re proud to be here with Team Penske and Acura trying to beat all the other manufacturers. The times have changed, but not that much, really.”