Acura Team Penske driver Dane Cameron has added yet another major title in his rocket ride of a racing career.
Cameron and teammate Juan Pablo Montoya delivered the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Daytona Prototype International title to team owner Roger Penske during the season-ending Petit Le Mans at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.
It’s Penske’s first sports car championship since 2008, when the team ended a three-year, title-winning streak in the American Le Mans Series utilizing a Porsche RS Spyder.
SPEED SPORT talked to Penske in 2017 when the team announced it would return to its sports car racing roots. Many believed Team Penske would do what it has always done: win.
Penske was not so sanguine. “The Captain” has always been a strategic thinker and he started by making sure he had a team to undertake the challenge. Once that brick was in place, he went looking for drivers. Always loyal, he moved Helio Castroneves from the team’s IndyCar Series program and called Montoya back to active duty.
Then he lured Ricky Taylor away from his father’s Wayne Taylor Racing team and Cameron from Action Express Racing. Taylor and Cameron were proven winners.
Then there’s the manufacturer.
Acura approached Penske in 2017 and asked if he’d consider putting their badge on the hood of a DPi. Penske and team manager Tim Cindric worked it out and accepted the challenge. They felt they had what it would take to field a winning effort.
Penske had no illusions of a cakewalk. Reinhold Joest had taken over the Mazda program and has a long and storied legacy in endurance racing, while Cadillac was also amping up its program to face the new assaults on their dominance.
Cameron’s original career path was through open-wheel racing, winning several championships in Star Mazda, the Jim Russell series and the Formula Audi winter series championship.
“I’ve been in sports cars since 2009,” he recalled. “I’ve been in various teams and classes for the better part of 10 years. When Grand-Am and American Le Mans merged in 2014, I had a couple wins here and there. I ran for a bunch of smaller teams and was waiting for the right place at the right time.”
Cameron is a winning machine. A move to the American Le Mans series was immediately successful where he won the LMPC championship for Sahlens Motorsports in 2013. He signed with Turner Motorsports and promptly won the 2014 GT Daytona championship.
That effort garnered the attention of Action Express boss man Gary Nelson. Cameron didn’t miss a beat, winning the 2016 DPi championship with that team.
A year later, Cameron got the call every driver covets — one from Team Penske.
Action Express just couldn’t hang on to him.
“He worked for us for several years,” Nelson said. “He’s an amazing talent and a great guy to work with. We hated to see him leave and go over to Penske and then we had to race against him. The first year (2018) the 31 (Whelen Engineering) car became the champion and this year he became the champion and the 31 car was second. So now we’re rivals.”
Cameron says driving for Penske has been rewarding.
“They (the team) take excellent care of you,” Cameron said. “He (Penske) really supports us. Some people will talk about racing there and the pressure would be really high or something like that. I don’t really feel like that at all.”
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