By IMSA Wire Service
This was a statement win for No. 6 Acura Team Penske ARX-05 co-drivers Dane Cameron and Juan Pablo Montoya.
In Sunday’s Monterey SportsCar Championship Powered by McLaren at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, Cameron and Montoya cruised to their third victory of the season as Cameron took the checkered flag 9.784 seconds ahead of teammate Helio Castroneves in the No. 7 Acura DPi after two hours and 40 minutes of racing around the 2.238-mile circuit. In the process, the No. 6 duo extended its lead in the Daytona Prototype international (DPi) championship standings to 12 points.
They’re now firmly in the driver’s seat for the DPi title with only the 10-hour Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Raceway Road America on Saturday, Oct. 12.
“Today was really good,” Montoya said. “We had a fun weekend. We were first or second in every session. It was good. We did what we needed to do all weekend, and for the points, it was amazing. Now we’re going into the last race with a 12-point advantage, so that’s huge. It was a very strong showing for the team. The No. 7 cars guys did a great job too. They were there for us all day, that was important. Going into the next race for Petit with a 12-point advantage, it’s a big relief.”
Cameron took control of the race after his second pit stop around the halfway point, only briefly surrendering the lead as the pit-stop sequence played out. He and Montoya combined to lead 75 of the 121 laps in the race, which ran without a full-course caution, scoring their seventh consecutive podium result – a run that also included back-to-back victories at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and Detroit’s Belle Isle Park.
“This is the level of performance and execution that’s expected from a Penske team,” Cameron said. “To be a contender for race wins week in and week out, it’s what makes us excited to be a part of it, it’s what’s expected of us as a group, so it’s nice.
“The results just started to come. We know what we need for qualifying and what we need for the race and that’s why we now have more poles and more wins for the No. 6 car. The strategy has been great. The car has been absolutely amazing all through the summer. We just keep getting better and better. We’re looking forward, hopefully in a few weeks’ time, getting a championship. Today was certainly good for kicking off strong for that.”
It was the second 1-2 sweep of the season for Acura Team Penske. Castroneves’ No. 7 Acura co-driver Ricky Taylor – who won the Motul Pole Award on Saturday – led 38 laps during his double stint to open the race. Castroneves overcame an off-course excursion early in his stint after a tangle with Cameron Cassels in the No. 38 LMP2 machine and managed to preserve the sweep.
The victory also effectively clinched the 2019 WeatherTech Championship DPi manufacturer’s championship for Acura, which now has an eight-point lead over Cadillac, 297-289. Acura only needs to score manufacturer points at Motul Petit Le Mans to officially take the title.
Pipo Derani and Felipe Nasr rounded out the podium in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R with a third-place run. Derani grabbed the final podium spot – and more valuable championship points – from Renger van der Zande in the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R within the last 15 minutes of the race. The No. 31 duo trails Montoya and Cameron by a count of 274-262.
Van der Zande and Jordan Taylor wound up fourth in the No. 10 Cadillac ahead of Joao Barbosa and Filipe Albuquerque in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi-V.R, who joined their No. 31 Action Express Racing teammates in the top five.
Mazda Team Joest saw its DPi win streak snapped at three consecutive victories in Sunday’s race. Oliver Jarvis and Tristan Nunez were the team’s highest finishers, taking sixth in the No. 77 Mazda RT-24P.
Fifth Straight Win for No. 52 PR1-Mathiasen Motorsports LMP2 Team and McMurry
Matt McMurry and Dalton Kellett combined to score the fifth consecutive victory for the No. 52 PR1-Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA team in the LMP2 class. It also was the fifth straight win for McMurry, the team’s full-season driver, and the second in as many LMP2 races for Kellett.
The No. 52 team finished one lap ahead of the No. 38 Performance Tech Motorsports ORECA LMP2 shared by Cameron Cassels and Saturday’s Motul Pole Award winner, Kyle Masson. The win also expanded McMurry’s LMP2 points lead to eight over Cassels, 235-227, meaning he only will need to score points at Motul Petit Le Mans to take the 2019 WeatherTech Championship title.
“Today’s race went really well,” McMurry said. “We were struggling with setup all weekend. We made a big change and it worked out really well for us and we had a good car for the race. The crew did a great job on all the stops. Dalton did a great job in the race getting a good gap. I just had to bring it home. It was fun chasing Kyle out there. We got to actually have some good battles. It was really fun.”
“It was a great return to the team,” added Kellett. “We had a good day. At the start of the weekend, we struggled a little bit. We brought our pace right in line with the Performance Tech guys today. I think we did a better job managing traffic. I think we got a bit of a gap with a nice buffer when we did the driver change, so it was good.”
Next up for the WeatherTech Championship is the 2019 season finale, Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta on Saturday, Oct. 12. In addition to wrapping up the overall WeatherTech Championship season, the race also concludes the four-race IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup season.
The race will begin on NBC starting at 12 noon ET on Saturday, Oct. 12 for the first three hours, with the remainder of the 10-hour race on NBCSN, the NBC Sports App and NBCSports.com. IMSA Radio also will have live coverage throughout the race week on IMSA.com and RadioLeMans.com, with live race coverage also airing on SiriusXM Radio.
Tickets are available now at RoadAtlanta.com.