Photo: Walter G Arce Sr./ASP, Inc.

Acura Team Penske Sweeps Mid-Ohio Front Row

By Christopher DeHarde, Staff Writer

LEXINGTON, Ohio — Acura Team Penske have continued their reign at the top of the time sheet by sweeping the front row for Sunday’s Acura Sports Car Challenge at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

Helio Castroneves wheeled his No. 7 Acura DPi around the 2.258 mile natural terrain road course with a lap of 1 minute, 11.837 seconds with teammate Dane Cameron in the No. 6 going .147 seconds slower. Mazda locked out the second row with the No. 77 ahead of the 55 while Cadillac has the third row with the Wayne Taylor Racing No. 10 ahead of the Action Express Racing No. 5.

This is Castroneves’s third pole at Mid-Ohio dating back to 2007 and 2008 in IndyCar racing.

“I knew I had it,” said Castroneves. “I just had to put it together. Every time I was going out there, the car was getting better, it was accepting it. It was a great team effort. Dane actually helped me to find out something that maybe wasn’t there, but we were able to put it together and it was awesome.”

In GTLM, John Edwards maneuvered his No. 24 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing BMW M8 to a lap of 1 minute, 17.853 seconds. Nick Tandy qualified second in the No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR, just .066 seconds slower than Edwards. The sister No. 25 BMW M8 qualified third ahead of the No. 912 Porsche.

“I haven’t been qualifying lately,” said Edwards. “You get used to watching. And then you have to do it again and you go ‘OK, I have to remember how to bring the tires in,’ and that’s a little difficult because in the race you go flat out from the beginning and maintain pace on the out lap. In qualifying you bring the tires in a different way.”

In GTD, Lexus locked out the front row with the No. 15 RC F GT3 getting pole with a fastest lap of 1 minute, 19.317 seconds thanks to Jack Hawksworth. Kyle Marcelli in the No. 14 RC F GT3 qualified just .053 seconds behind Hawksworth while the No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 qualified third ahead of the No. 86 Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3.

“It’s a great day for 3GT Racing and a great day for Lexus with both cars on the front row so that sets us up really well for tomorrow,” said Hawksworth. “Slightly different strategies on both cars so we’ve got quite an open window for what we want to do. I think both cars have a great chance and we’ll do our best tomorrow.”

Morning Practice

Cameron was quickest in Saturday morning practice in the No. 6 Acura DPi while Castroneves was second quickest overall. Jonathan Bomarito was third quickest in the No. 55 Mazda DPi ahead of Colin Braun in the CORE Autosport ORECA LMP2 machine.

In GTLM, Earl Bamber was fastest in the No. 912 Porsche ahead of Antonio Garcia in the No. 3 Corvette C7.R. Jesse Krohn was third in the No. 24 BMW M8 ahead of Tandy.

Madison Snow was the quickest GTD driver with a lap of 1 minute, 20.400 seconds ahead of Marcelli and Hawksworth. Alvaro Parente was fourth in morning practice in the No. 86 NSX GT3.

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A 2012 graduate of LSU, Christopher DeHarde primarily focuses on the NTT IndyCar Series and the WeatherTech Sports Car Championship. DeHarde has actively covered motorsports since 2014.