Montoya Powers To Belle Isle IMSA Pole

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Juan Pablo Montoya put his Team Penske Acura DPi on the pole for the Chevrolet Sports Car Classic. (Al Steinberg Photo)
Juan Pablo Montoya put his Team Penske Acura DPi on the pole for the Chevrolet Sports Car Classic. (Al Steinberg Photo)

DETROIT – Juan Pablo Montoya put his No. 6 Acura Team Penske ARX-05 DPi on the pole for the Chevrolet Sports Car Classic at Belle Isle Park on Friday.

Montoya posted a best lap of 1 minute, 19.373 seconds (106.585 mph) to lead a 1-2 qualifying sweep for Acura Team Penske ahead of Helio Castroneves in the No. 7 Acura DPi.

Montoya shattered Pipo Derani’s year-old WeatherTech Championship track record of 1:22.273 by nearly three seconds. It was his second IMSA pole and first since the 2018 BUBBA burger Sports Car Grand Prix at Long Beach. Nine of the 11 DPi cars qualified faster than Derani’s 2018 track record time.

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“It’s great,” Montoya said. “Everybody at Acura Team Penske did an amazing job. We struggled a little bit in the morning with the car with balance, but it’s good. I had a bit of an understeer but at I kept turning laps it kept getting better. It was fun. It was a hell of a push.”

The 15-minute session saw Montoya, Castroneves and Derani in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R swap the top spot, with Montoya finally taking it for good with 40 seconds remaining. Castroneves will roll off the grid second in the No. 7 machine he shares with Ricky Taylor after a best qualifying lap of 1:19.580 (106.308 mph).

Jonathan Bomarito took third on the grid with a best lap of 1:19.960 (105.802 mph) in the No. 55 Mazda Team Joest RT24-P DPi. He and co-driver Harry Tincknell will look to score Mazda’s first WeatherTech Championship victory in Saturday’s race.

Derani wound up fourth on the grid with a lap of 1:19.991 (105.761 mph). The No. 31 Cadillac and Derani’s co-driver, Felipe Nasr, is the defending winner of the Chevrolet Sports Car Classic as he earned the win last year with Eric Curran. Derani and Nasr also head into the race as co-leaders of the WeatherTech Championship DPi point standings by four, 120-116, over Castroneves and Taylor.

Joao Barbosa made it two Action Express Racing Cadillac DPis in the top five with a best lap of 1:20.239 (105.434 mph) in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling entry he shares with Filipe Albuquerque.

Saturday’s Chevrolet Sports Car Classic begins shortly after 12:30 p.m. EST.