Juan Pablo Montoya and Dane Cameron will start first in the second IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship street race of 2019 after a dominant qualifying outing for Montoya and both Acura-powered DPi machines on Detroit’s Belle Isle.
After the 11-car field initially struggled to break the 80-second barrier, Jonathan Bomarito, Helio Castroneves and Montoya executed the first 1:19 laps of the event, with Montoya’s 1:19.373 significantly raising the bar.
With Montoya and the No. 6 Acura ARX-05 on the provisional pole and motionless in the pit lane, Castroneves remained on track for an additional lap. Five days after participating in the 103rd Running of the Indianapolis 500, Castroneves cut the time gap between the Nos. 6 and 7 Acura DPis in half but remained two-tenths of a second off the pole.
Montoya’s effort stood strong, marking his first pole of 2019 and second on a street circuit after capturing his first sports car racing pole on the streets of Long Beach in April 2018.
Leading nine DPi cars in vaporizing the former prototype lap record at the temporary street circuit just outside Downtown Detroit, Montoya cleared Felipe Nasr’s mark — set in last year’s race — by 2.264 seconds.
Castroneves settled for second by a margin of 0.207 seconds and will share the front row with Montoya for the start of the fifth DPi round of 2019. The Team Penske front-row sweep will set the team up for success in their second time competing in the WeatherTech Championship during the Penske-run Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix weekend.
Bomarito’s own 1:19 lap put the No. 55 Mazda RT24-P on the inside of the second row alongside Action Express Racing’s Pipo Derani who will take the green flag in the No. 31 Cadillac DPi-V.R as the best-qualifying driver for the hometown manufacturer.
The Cadillac DPis qualified by Joao Barbosa for Action Express and Renger van der Zande for Wayne Taylor Racing will occupy the third row given their fifth- and sixth-place qualifying efforts.
Tristan Nunez placed seventh in the No. 77 Mazda DPi after the car missed Practice 1 earlier in the day. Beyond the second Mazda Team Joest entry on the grid will be both JDC-Miller Motorsports Cadillacs and the similar machine fielded by Juncos Racing.
Misha Goikhberg followed his Practice 1 crash in JDC-Miller’s No. 85 Cadillac with a 10th-place qualifying effort, clearing Jonathan Bennett and CORE autosport’s Ligier Nissan DPi by 1.318 seconds at the bottom of the DPi running order.
After a 20-minute warm-up outing at 8:20 a.m. EDT Saturday, this year’s edition of the WeatherTech Championship’s annual contest in the Motor City will go green at 12:40 p.m. with live television coverage on NBCSN.