Dane Cameron sums up Acura Team Penske’s performance on Sunday as “pretty close to a perfect day.”
Cameron and Juan Pablo Montoya took the checkered flag at IMSA Monterey Grand Prix in the no. 6 almost 10 seconds ahead of the no. 7, piloted by Ricky Taylor and Helio Castroneves. The win at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in the DPi category means Cameron and Montoya head into the season finale with a 12 point advantage over Whelen Cadillac teammates Felipe Nasr and Pipo Derani.
The two Acura Team Penske cars chased each other for most of the day. But they had a few anxious moments early on. Ricky Taylor started on the pole and took the lead heading into the hairpin with Montoya just behind. But Jordan Taylor in the no. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac was able to pull even with the no. 6 and held the preferred inside line.
Montoya drove deeper into the corner, braking late to fend off the challenge. Coming out of the hairpin, Nasr—who had the Whelen Cadillac in the fray—was forced wide and lost momentum.
“The first few laps we were going at it,” Montoya says. “I thought ‘I’m going to pay for this.’”
But he was able to pull away from the Cadillacs and save the tires. With an hour and 44 minutes remaining in the timed 2:40 event and Cameron behind the wheel, the no. 6 caught the no. 7 in traffic and took the lead.
The all-Acura prototype race remained close until Castroneves made contact with Performance Tech Motorsports LMP2 entry and took a ride through the dirt.
Until Sunday, prospects looked bleak for GTLM winners Joey Hand and Dirk Mueller, drivers of the Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT. The team struggled with the set up and tire wear throughout practice. In the cooler weather on race day, however, the car responded. Mueller was able to slot just behind the class leading BMW Team RLL car of Jesse Krohn and John Edwards. When the BMW suffered a momentary loss of power, Meuller flashed by for the lead.
“We fought our way from the worst car we’ve been in to the best,” Hand observes. “This one feels really good.
In GTD, Corey Lewis and Brian Sellers cruised from start to finish in their Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini.
“We’ve had a lot of ups and downs this year,” Sellers says. “To finally put a complete race together, it’s very satisfying.”
Monterey native Jonathan Bomarito started the day with a mathematical chance at the DPi title and held the 5th position for much of the afternoon. When teammate Harry Tincknell pitted for fuel and tires with 41 minutes remaining the car stuck in neutral and wouldn’t budge.
One champion was decided at Laguna Seca. Zacherie Robichon took the inaugural Sprint Cup, awarded to the GTD driver with the most points at the seven races timed at two hours and 40 minutes or less. His fourth in the Pfaff Motorsports Porsche was enough to claim the crown.
“This weekend was a tough weekend,” Robichon says. “To hold on to 4th was quite an achievement. We proved that we belong.”
The Mazda Team Joest no. 55 was the only casualty of the day. There were no full course cautions.
Next up at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca is IndyCar's return to the track, dubbed the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey.