Acura Team Penske’s Juan Pablo Montoya and Dane Cameron entered Detroit on a roll and left Belle Isle Park on a roll. The duo teamed up to win Saturday’s Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear from the pole for their second straight overall victory.
“Certainly we’ll take [the win]. It’s a little bit unexpected for us,” Cameron said after the race. “Usually the street course is pretty good for the Cadillac guys, so we knew were were going to be competitive here, but obviously we were looking for more of a podium than wins here and get some good points. So I’m super excited to win here and get two in a row.”
Montoya led from the pole and pulled out a small gap over the pack. Mazda Team Joest’s Jonathan Bomarito was able to get past Helio Castroneves at the start to move up to second. After the first caution, Action Express Racing’s Pipo Derani was able to snag second away from Bomarito, but could nothing with Montoya.
30 minutes into the race, Juncos Racing’s Victor Franzoni tapped the wall with his Cadillac DPi-V.R. exiting turn 7, putting debris on track. The debris triggered the race’s second caution and brought nearly everyone in for tires, fuel and a driver change. The sole exception to that rule was Mazda Team Joest’s Tristan Nunez, who was gambling on a one-stop strategy.
Nunez assumed the lead for the restart and held it through the next caution. On the restart from the third yellow, Cameron was able to blast past to take the overall lead.
Further back, it was a day to forget for Wayne Taylor Racing. Jordan Taylor had done well to move himself up to second, but a spin in turn 8 put more debris on track and brought out the fourth caution. The leaders all pitted for fuel and tires here, but Cameron kept the advantage.
Behind Cameron, JDC-Miller MotorSports was turning heads with their No. 84 Cadillac with Stephen Simpson at the wheel running as high as third. Then trouble struck when Simpson made contact with the No. 55 Mazda of Harry Tincknell. Tincknell spun into the tires and into retirement to bring out yet another caution. While Bomarito stated on NBCSN that Simpson should have been penalized for the contact, no penalty was assessed by IMSA.
Nunez’s teammate Oliver Jarvis also ended up finding the tires in turn 6 after contact with Action Express Racing’s Filipe Albuquerque shortly afterwards. Similarly to Tincknell’s crash, no action was taken by IMSA officials. Unlike the Tincknell crash, it did not create a caution.
When the green came back out with 22 minutes to go, Cameron and Ricky Taylor were running one-two for Acura Team Penske. Felipe Nasr was able to rain on the Acura party by getting past Ricky Taylor for second, but could not quite get to the rear of Cameron.
Montoya and Cameron’s margin of victory was eight-tenths of a second over Nasr and Derani. Ricky Taylor and Castroneves were third, while Simpson and Simon Trummer were fourth. Misha Goikhberg and Tristan Vautier in the second JDC-Miller MotorSports Cadillac were fifth
In GT Daytona, Turner Motorsport’s Robby Foley was supposed to start from the class pole. However, that honor was stripped away after Foley’s BMW M6 GT3 flunked post-qualifying inspection due to a camber issue. As a result, Park Place Motorsports’ Zacharie Robichon assumed the pole position.
On the very first lap, trouble struck down the order as Scuderia Corsa’s Cooper MacNeil and Paul Miller Racing’s Ryan Hardwick collided at the first corner. Hardwick spun his Lamborghini, while MacNeil hit the tire barrier in his Ferrari. The crash drew the race’s first full course caution. Hardwick was able to continue, but MacNeil’s day came to an end after barely 500 feet.
Robichon led early and was not realistically challenged. Behind him, Meyer Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian’s Christina Nielsen gave chase in second, followed by Trent Hindman and AVS Vasser Sullivan’s Richard Heistand. For the other Shank Acura, things weren’t so great. Following a pit stop during the second caution where Mario Farnbacher got into the No. 86 Acura in place of Trent Hindman, Farnbacher lost control and hit the wall exiting turn 13 to bring out yet another caution. Farnbacher was ok, but his Acura was done.
On the restart, AVS Vasser Sullivan’s Jack Hawksworth made his move. He made short work of Nielsen’s teammate Katherine Legge for second, then quickly ran down Robichon’s teammate Patrick Long for the lead.
A short battle erupted between the two veteran racers. After about a lap, Hawksworth was able to get past on The Strand to take the class lead. Legge tried to follow to get back into second, but Long blocked that move, allowing Townsend Bell in the second AVS Vasser Sullivan Lexus to take third away.
Once out front, Hawksworth was able to use his pace (best in the GT Daytona class over the past couple of seasons) to maintain the lead. Long kept Hawksworth in his sights all the way to the finish, but could not prevent Hawksworth and Heistand from taking their second straight class victory.
Further back, Legge’s chances to get her third straight class victory at Belle Isle Park came to an end with 10 minutes to go when she spun in turn 7 following contact from Turner Motorsport’s Bill Auberlen. Legge was able to continue, but fell back to a ninth-place finish in class.
Hawksworth and Heistand’s margin of victory was eight-tenths of a second over Long and Robichon. Bell and Frankie Montecalvo were third in the second Lexus, followed by the Lamborghini of Magnus Racing’s Andy Lally and John Potter. The Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini of Hardwick and Bryan Sellers came back from their first-lap spin to finish fifth.
IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship teams (aside from those that will compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans) are off for the next few weeks. The season gets back underway with the Sahlen’s Six Hours at the Glen on June 30. Frontstretch will be there to bring you all the happenings at Watkins Glen.