ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – Dane Cameron clearly knows the quick way around Road America.
Cameron heads into Sunday’s IMSA Road Race Showcase looking for his fourth career victory at the four-mile Wisconsin road circuit, and he’ll do that from the pole position after breaking the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship track record on Saturday.
A lap of one minute, 48.715 seconds (134.045 mph) in the No. 6 Acura Team Penske ARX-05 Daytona Prototype international machine gave Cameron the top spot on the grid.
Cameron went nearly three seconds faster than the previous WeatherTech Championship record of 1:51.644 set by Robert Alon last year in a JDC-Miller Motorsports ORECA LMP2 machine to score the Motul Pole Award.
He needed every bit of it, too, as teammate Helio Castroneves threw down a last-lap flyer of his own in the 15-minute qualifying session to put the No. 7 Acura DPi on the outside of the front row – a scant, .016 seconds slower than Cameron’s lap.
“It got a little stressful there for us,” Cameron said. “It got a little close, good job to him. That’s pretty standard Castroneves procedure to throw a big one in there at the end. I’m super happy to be on pole, and just really happy with how everything is going at Acura Team Penske. HPD has done a great job for us. We’re really coming on form when we need to as the back half of this championship, for the three races to go for us.
“It’s game-time to win the championship.”
Cameron and co-driver Juan Pablo Montoya enter Sunday’s race looking to extend their lead in the WeatherTech Championship DPi standings. They’re currently three points ahead of No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R co-drivers Felipe Nasr and Pipo Derani.
Cameron and Montoya also will be looking for their third victory of the season and their sixth consecutive podium result.
Castroneves – whose best lap was a 1:48.731 (134.025 mph) – and co-driver Ricky Taylor are currently third in the DPi standings, just nine points in arrears of their No. 6 teammates. They are still looking for their first victory of the season.
Oliver Jarvis led a row two sweep for Mazda Team Joest, putting the No. 77 RT24-P DPi he shares with Tristan Nunez third on the grid with a best lap of 1:48.949 (133.757 mph). Jonathan Bomarito qualified fourth in the No. 55 Mazda DPi, posting a best lap of 1:49.381 (133.229 mph) in the car he will co-drive with Harry Tincknell.
Mazda Team Joest is looking for its third consecutive victory in Sunday’s race after the No. 77 won the last DPi race at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park and the No. 55 won the previous event at Watkins Glen Int’l.
Simon Trummer completed the top five with a best lap of 1:49.911 (132.586 mph) in the No. 84 JDC-Miller Motorsports Cadillac DPi-V.R. Trummer’s co-driver is Stephen Simpson. Derani wound up sixth on the grid at 1:50.111 (132.346 mph) in the No. 31 Cadillac.
In the LMP2 class, James French earned his 12th WeatherTech Championship Motul Pole Award with a best lap of 1:52.037 (130.070 mph) in the No. 38 Performance Tech Motorsports ORECA.
It’s a hometown race for French, who hails from nearby Sheboygan, Wis., and he’ll go for the victory on Sunday with Canadian co-driver Cameron Cassels.
“It feels absolutely fantastic to be back here, especially in this car,” French said. “It’s super, super quick around here, and just tons of grip. The power is amazing. Amazing, beautiful circuit. The weather turned out to be pretty nice for us. It looked like it was going to rain and it didn’t. Luckily, it dried up for us and we were able to do some quick times.
“It was a blast.”