DETROIT – Juan Pablo Montoya and Dane Cameron, co-drivers of the No. 6 Acura Team Penske ARX-05 DPi, accomplished something in Saturday’s Chevrolet Sports Car Classic that hadn’t been done since IMSA began racing on Detroit’s Belle Isle Park.
Before Saturday, General Motors race cars won their class in all nine IMSA races held on Belle Isle from 2007 through 2018, including overall victories from 2012 through last year.
On Saturday Montoya and Cameron came away with their second consecutive IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship victory in a tight, 100-minute battle on the 2.3-mile street circuit.
After claiming the Motul Pole Award in qualifying Friday, Montoya got a fantastic jump at the start to take the lead, which he held for the first 19 laps of what would be a 58-lap race before pitting under the second of the race’s five full-course caution periods to turn the car over to Cameron. Montoya’s stop turned the lead over to Tristan Nunez, who was on a different pit-stop strategy in the No. 77 Mazda Team Joest RT24-P DPi.
Following the ensuing restart, however, Cameron picked up where Montoya left off, taking the lead away from Nunez on the first green-flag lap. Cameron surrendered the lead for one more lap when he came in for his final pit stop but retook the lead on lap 35.
Cameron led the field to the green flag for the final restart with just under 22 minutes remaining, but he quickly had last year’s Detroit winner, Felipe Nasr in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R, right on his tail. Nasr filled Cameron’s mirrors all the way to the checkered flag, but never could get quite close enough as Cameron crossed the stripe .820 of a second ahead of the No. 31 to take the victory.
“Certainly, we’ll take that,” said Cameron, who won at Detroit in 2015 in the Whelen Engineering Corvette DP with then-co-driver Eric Curran. “It’s a little bit unexpected for us. Usually the street course is pretty good for the Cadillac, so we knew they were going to competitive here, but obviously we were looking for more of a podium than wins here and get some good points.
“I’m super excited to win here and get two in a row. Lots of people who get two wins in a row get championships, so hopefully that’s a good omen for the balance of the season.”
Cameron and Montoya also won last month’s Acura Sports Car Challenge at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. It was Acura’s second overall victory in Detroit, the first coming in the 2008 American Le Mans Series (ALMS) race on Belle Isle when James Rossiter and Franck Montagny won for Andretti-Green Racing.
It was Montoya’s fifth IMSA win (two WeatherTech Championship and three Grand-Am) and was Cameron’s 14th (12 WeatherTech Championship, one Grand-Am, one ALMS).
“To win in Detroit finally, it’s good,” said Montoya. “It’s nice to be here. It’s nice to be here with Acura – it’s an amazing program – and Team Penske. [Team owner] Roger [Penske]’s home race. I felt yesterday I did a really good job in qualifying. To convert that into a win, Dane did an amazing job out there today too. We did everything we needed to do again. We just need to keep doing that every week.”
The victory moved Cameron and Montoya into second in the WeatherTech Championship DPi standings, but Nasr and co-driver Pipo Derani slightly extended their lead to five, 152-147, with the runner-up result. The No. 31 duo came up just short of extending General Motors’ hometown win streak.
The run included back-to-back American Le Mans Series GT1 class wins by Corvette Racing in 2007 and 2008. Corvette Daytona Prototypes won overall in the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series in 2012 and 2013, as well as IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship races from 2014 through 2016. Cadillac DPi race cars won in both 2017 and 2018.
Helio Castroneves and Ricky Taylor picked up their third podium result in five races this season and made it two Acura Team Penske DPis in the top three with a third-place showing. They are third in the DPi championship standings at the halfway point of the 10-race season for the DPi class, trailing Montoya and Cameron by just one point.
Simon Trummer and Stephen Simpson came home fourth in the No. 84 JDC-Miller Motorsports Cadillac DPi-V.R for their best result of the season to date. Misha Goikhberg and Tristan Vautier finished one spot behind their JDC-Miller teammates with a fifth-place showing in the No. 85 Cadillac DPi.