Photo: Courtesy of IMSA

Dane Cameron Fastest in Friday Watkins Glen Practice

By Christopher DeHarde, Staff Writer

WATKINS GLEN, New York — Friday practice for the 2019 Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen has indicated that a fireball is en route to the record book when the DPi entries take to the track for IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship qualifying on Saturday.

Last year, Colin Braun set a lap of 1 minute, 32.350 seconds to score pole position. Friday practice’s best lap came in the afternoon session courtesy of Dane Cameron with a lap of 1 minute, 30.014 seconds around the 11 turn, 3.4 mile road course. That’s an average speed of 135.978 mph for the No. 6 ARX-05 entry.

“We’re really happy with where everything is at the moment to be honest,” Cameron said. “Last year, we had a lot of pace, but just couldn’t quite put it all together. So, it’s kind of nice – at least for us in the 6 car without winning last year – to get the monkey off our back a little bit and get a couple wins in a row. It’s a lot of confidence for all the guys and I think everybody’s just really executing on a really high level right now, which is what we need and what we expect of Acura Team Penske.”

Cameron has every right to have a lot of confidence. He and co-driver Juan Pablo Montoya are coming off of two wins in the last two WeatherTech Championship races and are currently five points behind championship leaders Pipo Derani and Felipe Nasr in the No. 31 Action Express Racing Cadillac DPi.

“The last two races have been pretty amazing for the No. 6 Acura team,” said Cameron. “Honestly, they have been two complete races by Juan and I and we’ve been able to drive to victory lane because of it. We’ve qualified really well- Juan especially with a monster lap at Detroit- and we’ve had great race pace.”

2019 will give Montoya and Cameron the opportunity for redemption at Watkins Glen. A late-race restart gaffe in 2018 allowed Stephen Simpson the chance to get around Montoya late in the race and Simpson would not be beat with Montoya finishing second. The DPi cars will qualify with the two-car LMP2 class Saturday at 12:25 p.m. ET.

All four DPi manufacturers were in the top five of the combined practice results with Acura leading the No. 55 Mazda Team Joest empty, the No. 7 Acura, the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac and the No. 54 CORE Autosport Nissan DPi.

In GTLM, the entire eight car field was all within three quarters of a second of each other with the No. 67 Ford GT of Richard Westbrook setting a class-leading lap of 1 minute, 42.321 seconds. Jesse Krohn’s No. 24 RLL Racing BMW M8 was last in class but set a fastest lap of 1 minute, 43.006 seconds so that class is extremely close.

The GTD class was separated by nearly two and a half seconds from Andy Lally’s fastest lap in the No. 44 Magnus Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 of 1 minute, 45.406 seconds to Mike Skeen’s 1 minute, 47.892 second lap in the No. 8 Starworks Motorsport Audi R8 LMS GT3.

Driver Will Hardeman was evaluated at the SUNY Upstate Medical University and after a CT scan of his head was diagnosed with a concussion. Hardeman hit the barrier with the No. 19 Moorespeed Audi R8 LMS GT3 entry during practice. Moorespeed withdrew their entry after the damage to the No. 19 Audi was too much to repair.

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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.