Dane Cameron will lead the field to the green flag after capturing pole for the Acura Sports Car Challenge at Mid-Ohio.
As the sun barely broke over the horizon early Sunday morning, drivers from the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship took to the 13-turn, 2.258-mile permanent road course.
Driving the No. 6 Acura Team Penske DPi, Cameron pushed across the line with a flying lap at 1m10.839s, narrowly beating teammate Helio Castroneves in the No. 7 sister car by a slim 0.016s. It’s the first pole of the season for Cameron, and 13th of his career.
“This is typically a really strong place for the Acura prototype package, but it certainly seems our competitors have really closed that gap this year,” said Cameron. “I really expect a tough race. But it feels great to get a pole position here. It’s been a pretty tough year for us (Cameron and teammate Juan Pablo Montoya), and I feel like I’ve been robbed of a pole here the last couple years. So I wanted to finish the job, and this makes up for a couple years of disappointment.”
While Acura Team Penske swept the front row, it was a quiet but strong performance by Jonathan Bomarito. The driver of the No. 55 Mazda DPi ended up just 0.165s off pole to qualify third.
Pipo Derani placed fourth in the No. 31 Action Express Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R. Championship leader Ryan Briscoe — who had an off in Turn 12 in the late stages of his qualifying run — put the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac in fifth, 0.432s off the pole.
Jordan Taylor put a stranglehold on the GTLM class after putting down a best lap at 1m17.985s in the No. 3 Corvette Racing C8.R. The 29-year-old Floridian was unchallenged, ending the session 0.376s ahead of Jesse Krohn in the No. 24 BMW M8 GTE for BMW Team RLL. Oliver Gavin couldn’t back up the pace by teammate Taylor, placing the No. 4 sister car in third, 0.463s off the pace.
“This is the first time here with the Corvette C8.R, so I think a lot of it came down to the preparation by the team,” said Taylor, who along with co-driver Antonio Garcia leads the GTLM championship standings. “We spent two days in the simulator last week preparing, and we rolled off the truck really strong. I know we only needed to make a couple minor adjustments. The car was obviously really good in qualifying, and I think we’ve led all the sessions so far.”
It was a frantic battle in GTD, with several drivers rotating the top spot throughout their 15-minute qualifying bout, but Aaron Telitz took pole when the checkered flag fell. The 28-year-old Wisconsin native put down a lap at 1m20.974s with no time remaining in the No. 14 Lexus RC F for AIM Vasser Sullivan. The result marks his second pole of the season, with his previous one coming at Road America.
“It’s tough to get going quick when you don’t have a ton of track time,” said Telitz. “You just have to turn it on in the morning, show up, drink some coffee, and get ready to lay it down quick in qualifying. Fifteen minutes, honestly, isn’t a lot of time when it’s this cold here just to get the Michelin tires up to temperature.
“So really, it just came down to the last lap. I didn’t put a real clean lap together before then, but the last lap was good and luckily, good enough to hold off the Acuras. It’s cool to beat them at their home track, if you will.”
Matt McMurry put in a valiant effort for Meyer Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian, pushing the No. 86 Acura NSX to second, just 0.115s behind Telitz. Heinricher Racing’s Misha Goikhberg ended up third in the No. 57 Acura, followed by the No. 76 McLaren 720S of Corey Fergus (Compass Racing). Robby Foley rounded out the top five in the No. 96 BMW M6 for Turner Motorsports. Only 0.39s separated first through fifth.
UP NEXT: The 2h40m race airs live this afternoon at 2:05 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Gold, with the replay airing at 11 p.m. on NBCSN.