Juan Pablo Montoya and Dane Cameron combined to make Team Penske’s 100th sports car start a real red-letter day for The Captain, leading a 1-2 finish to dominate the action in Sunday’s Monterey SportsCar Championship at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.
It was the third triumph of the season for the No. 6 ARX-05, and cemented the points lead in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship DPi standings with only the Motul Petit Le Mans remaining in the season. The 90th victory for Penske’s charges in sports cars also delivered the IMSA DPi Manufacturer’s Championship for Acura.
“I was a little anxious before the race,” Cameron admitted. “I was unsure how good my pace was. But we made a couple real good changes, and the car was absolutely unbelievable to drive out there. It was perfect.”
Ricky Taylor started the No. 7 Acura on the pole, and led for most of his double stint. Cameron passed Taylor for the lead at the 54-minute mark, and the No. 6 dominated the remainder of the event, leading the final 61 laps in the caution-free race. Helio Castroneves finished second in the No. 7 Acura, 9.784 back, while Pipo Derani and Felipe Nasr completed the podium, keeping the championships hopes alive for the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R.
With on race remaining, Cameron and Montoya lead Derani and Nasr by 12 points, with Castroneves and Taylor 20 points in arrears.
Cadillacs took the next two positions. Jordan Taylor and Renger van der Zande were fourth in the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R, followed by Filipe Albuquerque and Joao Barbosa in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac.
Mazda saw its three-race winning streak ended, with Oliver Jarvis and Tristan Nunez sixth in the Mazda Team Joest RT-24P.
Hand, Mueller win GTLM in Ford GT
Ford Chip Ganassi Racing spoiled a promising day for BMW, with Dirk Mueller and Joey Hand taking the lead 15 minutes into the event and dominating the remainder of the day in the No. 66 Ford GT.
“I knew we had a good car from Lap 1,” Mueller said. “I was able to stay very close and put pressure on, until (No. 24 BMW driver Jesse Krohn) started making mistakes. I knew at one point I needed to go by, and did it, and from there on, we had a good car and Joey brought it home.”
Krohn and John Edwards finished second in the No. 24 BMW Team RLL M8 GTLM, 20.039s back. Much of the drama in the class during the final hour centered on the fight for the third step of the podium. Conor De Phillippi and Tom Blomqvist held the position in the No. 25 BMW, only to have Antonio Garcia (No. 3 Corvette C7.R with Jan Magnussen) and Tom Milner (No. 3 Corvette with Oliver Gavin) both get by on the same lap with nine minutes remaining.
Neither of the Porsche 911 RSRs were factors, placing seventh and eighth. However, the No. 912 of Earl Bamber and Laurens Vanthoor head for the finale with a 12-point lead over Nick Tandy and Patrick Pilet in the No. 911.
Lewis, Sellers dominate GTD in Lambo
Pole winner Corey Lewis and Bryan Sellers dominated GTD in the No. 48 Paul Miller Racing 1st Phorm/Total Lamborghini Huracan GT3. The team pitted last of the class contenders, leading to a flag-to-flag victory.
“Today was a great day, and when you look at how our race unfolded, it was a great team day,” Lewis said. “The car was fantastic, and our strength throughout the race is our car stayed solid. Other cars had quicker outright pace, but none of them could do it as long as we could.”
Cooper MacNeil and Toni Vilander finished a season-best second in the No. 63 Scuderia Corsa WeatherTech Ferrari 488 GT3. MacNeil drove a flawless opening stint and the pit crew handed Vilander a 12-second advantage following their first pit stop.
“Our car was quick — but the (No. 48) Lamborghini was also quick,” MacNeil admitted.
Andy Lally made a late pass to complete the podium in the No. 44 Magnus Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 started by John Potter.
Behind the podium, there was plenty of drama in the class.
Trent Hindman and Mario Farnbacher entered the race with a commanding 37-point advantage in the regular season championship — and with 35 points awarded to the winner — looked to clinch the title in the No. 86 Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3. And, looking to that goal, Hindman ran second in the early laps.
However, the corks went unpopped, and the championship will go down to Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta, as the team struggled with tire problems throughout the race. Running 11th at one point, Farnbacher made up several positions late in the race to finish eighth, giving the team a 32-point lead entering the final.
Meanwhile, Scott Hargrove and Zach Robichon finished fourth in the No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R. That was good enough to stay alive in the championship, but Robichon also won the new IMSA Sprint Cup for the seven non-endurance races on the WeatherTech Championship schedule.