His sports car team made Indy 500-winning car owner Roger Penske proud in Friday’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship qualifying, sweeping the front row for Saturday’s Chevrolet Sports Car Classic on Detroit’s Belle Isle street course.
Juan Pablo Montoya saved his best for his final lap, reeling off a last-minute 1m19.373s to grab the pole in the No. 6 Team Penske Acura DPi, demoting teammate Helio Castroneves (1m19.580s best) to second in the sister No. 7.
“We’ve struggled a little bit with the balance of the car, but qualifying was good,” Montoya said after winning his second WeatherTech Championship pole. “We had a little bit of understeer, but as we turned laps, it kept getting better.
“It was fun,” he added. “Winning the pole on a street course is big. Still, anything can happen tomorrow, but today was pretty amazing. It’s interesting, because the tires didn’t fall off. We kept on pushing, and it just kept getting quicker.”
Jonathan Bomarito also saved his best for the final lap of the 15-minute DPi session, taking third with a lap of 1m19.960s in the No. 55 Mazda Team Joest Mazda DPi.
Pipo Derani, fastest in both of Friday’s practice sessions, made a bid for a second-consecutive Detroit pole but ended up fourth, with 1m19.991s best in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R, fastest of the six Cadillacs in the DPi field.
Robby Foley captured the pole for the GT Daytona class, turning a quick lap of 1m29.704s in the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M6 GT3.
“This is definitely the best place to start,” Foley said. “We’ve had pretty bad luck this year, with mechanical failures or being taken out. But we have the speed, and we showed that today. Honestly, we didn’t think we would be that strong here, but we rolled off pretty good, made a few changes, and it was a great car for qualifying.”
Zach Robichon came up just .031s short, running 1m29.735s in the No. 73 Park Place Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.
The Meyer Shank Racing Acuras took the second row, Christina Nielsen third in the No. 57 Heinricher Racing Caterpillar Acura NSX GT3, 1m30.126s, followed by Trent Hindman, 1m30.242s in the No. 86 Autonation/Curb Records Acura.
It will be an all-Lexus third row, with Richard Heistand in the No. 14 followed by Frankie Montecalvo in the No. 12.
The top six GTD cars were separated by 0.801s.
Scuderia Corsa encountered clutch problems during the afternoon practice. Cooper MacNeil turned three laps in qualifying in the No. 63 WeatherTech Ferrari 488 GT3, giving him the 10th starting position. The team planned to change the clutch following qualifying.
Parker Chase did not get up to speed, encountering suspension problems in the No. 8 Starworks Motorsport Vertical Bridge Audi R8 LMS GT3. He will start at the back of the 12-car class.
UP NEXT: Chevrolet Sports Car Classic, 12:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN