Castroneves overcomes penalties for Road Atlanta 6-hour victory with Taylor

For the second consecutive time the Daytona Prototype Internationals (DPi) competed in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship (WSCC), it was the No. 7 Acura Team Penske duo of Helio Castroneves and Ricky Taylor celebrating in victory lane.

Acura ARX-05 drives around Braselton, GA.

The Acura Team Penske No. 7 drives around Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta on Saturday. (Picture Credit: Team Penske)

Background

The TireRack.com Six Hour Grand Prix at Road Atlanta was the sixth race of the 2020 IMSA WSCC season and the second race apart of the Michelin Endurance Championship (MEC).

The six hour event was moved to Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta after the series was unable to compete at Watkins Glen International in New York due to the COVID-19 guidelines held in New York.

Saturday’s race was also just the fifth of ten scheduled events for the DPi class in 2020.

With the race being considered an “endurance” race and part of the MEC, several teams opted to utilize their third driver selected for endurance races, while several others opted to stick to their two-driver full-season format.

The start

When the green flag waved Saturday morning from Braselton, Georgia, Dane Cameron spun ahead of the entire field.

Cameron and the No. 6 Acura Team Penske DPi had clipped the inside curb leaving the final corner coming to the green flag. Felipe Nasr in the No. 31 Cadillac forced Cameron onto those curbs, spinning out the No. 6.

Dwight Merriman got bounced into by Matheus Leist as they attempted to avoid the spinning car of Cameron. Only those three cars sustained major damage.

Leist had to take the No. 85 Cadillac to the garage and they finished behind the wall after 54 laps.

Daytona Prototype International

Costly mistake for Castroneves

Within the first hour of Saturday’s 6-hour race, Helio Castroneves put the No. 7 Acura DPi team on the wrong foot.

Entering the pit lane under a full-course caution, Castroneves let go of his pit speed limiter and accelerated, forcing race control to penalize him on the restart. However, Castroneves continued to hurt his case after he left pit lane with the red light on.

Castroneves was given a drive-through penalty and a 60-second stop-and-go penalty for his infractions.

Mazda Mishap

With 86 minutes left, Tristan Nunez was forced to bring the Mazda Motorsports No. 77 into the pit lane with brake issues. Nunez had been in the lead.

Briscoe’s Bump

At about the 5 hour 35 minute mark, the championship leader was in the midst of drama.

Juan Pablo Montoya and Ryan Briscoe entered the pit lane nose-to-tail from the second and third positions. However, NBC Sports cameras soon realized that the No. 6 DPi had severe damage with the rear assembly.

Replays showed that Montoya had briefly slowed down entering the pit lane, with Briscoe right on his bumper.

Race control penalized the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac as a result. Team owner Wayne Taylor disagreed with the call, telling NBC Sports that it “screwed our race.”

Post-race, Briscoe backed up his team owner, stating Montoya brake-checked him entering the pit lane

Montoya Crashes

With about fifteen minutes left, a full course caution was brought out after Juan Pablo Montoya’s No. 6 Acura crashed.

Going through Road Atlanta’s esses, Tristan Vautier in the No. 5 DPi bumped Cooper MacNeil in the No. 63 Scuderia Corsa sending the Ferrari off-track. The GTD re-emerged on-track right into the side of Montoya, who had been blocked by Vautier.

Vautier’s block on Montoya caused Vautier to puncture a tire.

The crash forced the reigning DPi champions of Montoya and Dame Cameron eight laps down, sitting in the paddock.

Finish

The race resumed with just 1:40 minutes remaining, setting up a green-white-checkered finish.

Helio Castroneves was able to hold off the No. 55 Mazda in the closing minutes to score his third win in the WSCC DPi class with Ricky Taylor and their second consecutive.

Victory Lane celebration

Helio Castroneves and Ricky Taylor celebrate their win in Saturday’s TireRack.com Grand Prix at Road Atlanta. (Picture Credit: Team Penske)

Le Mans Prototype 2

The Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2) class had only two entries. Championship leading team and driver, Performance Tech Motorsports, and Cameron Cassels were unable to attend following COVID-19 related issues.

That being said, the LMP2 race was pretty much over when it began.

The spin on the opening lap by Cameron forced former IndyCar star Matheus Leist to avoid the Penske DPi. However, Leist impacted Dwight Merriman and the No. 18.

The contact that Leist, a DPi driver, sustained to Merriman’s No. 18, an LMP2 forced the Era Motorsports team behind the wall for about the entire first hour, leaving the No. 52 Oreca the only car in-class on-track for an extended period on Saturday.

GT Le Mans

For the first time this season, the No. 25 BMW team celebrated a class victory in the WSCC.

Team BMW Rahal Letterman Lanigan (RLL)’s No. 25 BMW took the lead from the No. 911 with 45 minutes remaining in the 6-hour event.

The win broke the streak of Corvette Racing’s four consecutive GT Le Mans (GTLM) class victories. However, it continues to streak of Porsche Motorsports not finding victory lane.

Porsche has failed to win since last year’s event at VIRginia International Raceway, sitting at an 8-race drought.

After the six-hour event, Porsche sits last in the GTLM full-time standings between both drivers, manufacturers and teams.

GT Daytona

The GT Daytona (GTD) championship leaders and reigning champions finally broke through for their first wins of 2020 on Saturday.

Meyer Shank Racing’s three-driver lineup of Mario Farnbacher, Matt McMurry and Shinya Michimi were able to survive the chaos.

AIM Vasser Sullivan’s two-car fleet entered the weekend seeking the championship lead but lost grasps after fifth and tenth place finishes.

The No. 14 AVS Lexus failed to finish after mechanical woes. Turner Motorsport BMW’s No. 96 also fought mechanical gremlins.

The GRT Magnus Racing No. 44 crashed out after 166 laps.

Results

273 laps were turned during the 6-hour endurance race from Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta. For comparison, only 201 laps were turned during last year’s race at Watkins Glen International, however, the 2019 6 Hour at The Glen was the record setting pace in New York.

DPi Results

Pos.: Drivers (No.) Team – Laps

1: Helio Castroneves / Ricky Taylor (7) Acura Team Penske – 273

2: Jonathan Bomarito / Harry Ticnknell / Ryan Hunter-Reay (55) Mazda Motorsports – 273

3: Felipe Nasr / Pipo Derani / Felipe Albuquerque (31) Action Express Racing – 273

4: Joao Barbosa / Sebastien Bourdais / Tristan Vautier (5) JDC-Miller MotorSports – 273

5: Renger van der Zande / Ryan Briscoe (10) Wayne Taylor Racing – 273

6: Juan Pablo Montoya / Dane Cameron (6) Acura Team Penske – 265

7: Oliver Jarvis / Tristan Nunez / Olivier Pla (77) Mazda Motorsports – 230

8: Matheus Leist / Stephen Simpson (85) JDC-Miller MotorSports – 54

 

LMP2 Results

Pos.: Drivers (No.) Team – Laps

1: Patrick Kelly / Simon Trummer / Scott Huffaker (52) PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports – 264

2: Dwight Merriman / Kyle Tilley / Colin Braun (18) Era Motorsports – 232

 

GTLM Results

Pos.: Drivers (No.) Team – Laps

1: Bruno Spengler / Connor De Phillippi (25) BMW Team RLL – 254

2: Oliver Gavin / Tommy Milner (4) Corvette Racing – 254

3: Jesse Krohn / John Edwards (24) BMW Team RLL – 254

4: Nick Tandy / Fred Makowiecki (911) Porsche GT Team – 254

5: Antonio Garcia / Jordan Taylor (3) Corvette Racing – 254

6: Earl Bamber / Laurens Vanthoor (912) Porsche GT Team – 252

 

GTD Results

Pos.: Drivers (No.) Team – Laps

1: Mario Farnbacher / Matt McMurry / Shinya Michimi (86) Meyer Shank Racing – 245

2: Bryan Sellers / Madison Snow / Corey Lewis (48) Paul Miller Racing – 245

3: Ryan Hardwick / Patrick Long / Jan Heylen (16) Wright Motorsports – 245

4: Gar Robinson / Lawson Aschenbach / Ben Keating (74) Riley Motorsports – 245

5: Frankie Montecalvo / Townsend Bell / Aaron Telitz (12) AIM Vasser Sullivan – 245

6: Ian James / Roman De Angelis / Darren Turner (23) Heart of Racing Team – 245

7: Alex Parente / Misha Goikhberg / Trent Hindman (57) Heinricher w/ MSR – 244

8: Richard Heistand / Richard Westbrook / Steijn Schothorst (11) Grasser Racing Team – 243

9: Cooper MacNeil / Toni Vilander / Jeff Westphal (63) Scuderia Corsa – 237

10: Daniel Morad / Jack Hawksworth / Michael De Quesada (14) AIM Vasser Sullivan – 204

11: Bill Auberlen / Robby Foley / Dillon Machavern (96) Turner Motorsports – 182

12: John Potter / Andy Lally / Spencer Pumpelly (44) GRT Magnus – 166

Official IMSA Report (PDF)

Road America (Aug. 2) The Podium Finish Report

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Adam Coon

At 17 years old and attending high school, I have spent my weekends and free time covering motorsports on my Instagram page since July 2016. From Upstate New York, I am a devoted racing fan always looking to meet more people who share the same love I do.

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