Juan Pablo Montoya knows a thing or two about racing at Long Beach, as evidenced by his recent induction into the track’s Motorsports Walk of Fame. His latest accomplishment came Friday afternoon with the Acura Team Penske driver scoring his first career IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Motul Pole Award and the first pole for Acura’s ARX-05 Protoyype in its first season.
Montoya was one of four drivers to better the previous Long Beach track record with a lap of 1 minute, 12.922 seconds (97.155 mph) in the No. 6 Acura DPi he co-drives with sports car veteran Dane Cameron. Ricky Taylor previously held the record, lapping the 1.968-mile street circuit in 1:13.549 in 2017 while driving the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R. for Wayne Taylor Racing.
“Acura and Team Penske have done such a good job on the car this weekend,” said Montoya, who also scored his first career pole at Long Beach in any series. “It’s reminds me of driving a Formula 1 car, you can hustle it around and you still have to manage it. I’m really looking forward to the race tomorrow, it should be a lot of fun.”
Montoya and Acura Team Penske teammate Helio Castroneves both were inducted into the Long Beach Motorsports Walk of Fame on Thursday. Montoya won the 1999 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach en route to capturing the 1999 CART FedEx Championship Series ttle and finished third at Long Beach in 2015.
He will look to return to the top step of the podium at Long Beach, this time in the WeatherTech Championship, in tomorrow’s 100-minute BUBBA burger Sports Car Grand Prix at Long Beach.
Montoya will be joined on the front row by the No. 31 Whelen Cadillac DPi-V.R. of Felipe Nasr with a lap of 1:13.109 (96.707 mph). Nasr and co-driver Eric Curran enter this weekend’s race leading the WeatherTech Championship standings. Harry Tincknell qualified third with a lap of 1:13.156 (96.845 mph) in the No. 55 Mazda DPi making it three different Prototype manufacturers in the top three.
Castroneves rounded out the top two rows with a lap of 1:13.346 (96.594 mph) in the No. 7 Acura DPi he co-drives with three-time defending Long Beach race winner Ricky Taylor.
Source. IMSA/Photo. Acura