DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Acura Team Penske’s celebration for winning the 2019 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Daytona Prototype international title is over.
Last week at Daytona Int’l Speedway, both of the team’s Acura ARX-05 DPis and all six of the team’s drivers – full-timers Dane Cameron, Juan Pablo Montoya, Ricky Taylor and Helio Castroneves, and the team’s pair of endurance drivers, Indy 500 winners Simon Pagenaud and Alexander Rossi – were back in action on DIS’ famed high banks.
The team also confirmed last week that the driver lineups for 2020 will be the same as they were at the start of 2019. Cameron and Montoya will defend their DPi championship in the No. 6 with Pagenaud as their endurance co-driver. Castroneves and Taylor again will share the No. 7 for the full season alongside Rossi at the Rolex 24 At Daytona, Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts and Motul Petit Le Mans.
Rossi was replaced by Graham Rahal for Motul Petit Le Mans last month as he was in Australia competing in the Bathurst 1000, which was the same weekend.
“We are working on all aspects,” said Castroneves. “We’re trying new things, but for the most part is we have a third member, who is Alex Rossi, trying to fit back in again in our team. We’re getting the stuff that normally you don’t have a chance (to do) because the track is busy in traffic. We’re trying everything we can to make sure that when we come back here, we are ready to go.”
Castroneves and Taylor finished third in the 2019 DPi standings. They finished on the podium in half of the season’s 10 races but did not have a race victory. They’re looking to flip that script in 2020.
“We were coming into it off of a great year for Acura Team Penske last year,” Taylor said. “I think the (No.) 7 car, in particular, has some unfinished business to get to as far as race wins. We had plenty of pace last year, but we’ve just got to complete the job this year, I think.”
If Taylor and Castroneves are among the “hunters” in the 2020 DPi class, Cameron and Montoya could be considered the “hunted.” Their championship run included victories at Mid-Ohio, Detroit and WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca and a total of seven podiums.
“The ball, for us, keeps rolling,” Montoya said. “Nothing’s changed for us. We have the same guys, same crew, same drivers, same everything. I think we have good momentum on our side. We’re here preparing the best we can for the 24 hours. I think this is one of the main goals of 2020 is to get this win with either car. Hopefully, the (No.) 6, but either car, honestly. But it’s exciting. I think we’ve got a realistic chance of winning it.”
Montoya, who’s already won three Rolex 24s in his career, is open to the No. 7 team scoring a Rolex 24 victory. Cameron – who now has three WeatherTech Championship titles on his résumé – is hungry to add a Rolex watch to his collection.
“Even more so than the championship, for myself, I think the goal has to be Daytona,” Cameron said. “That’s the one that’s gotten away from me in the last 10 years. That’s going to be the big motivator through all the winter training. It’s going to be Daytona and knowing I’m going to have another great opportunity there. It’s been very elusive for me over the last number of years. Hopefully, 2020 can be the year I can get my first Daytona 24 win.”