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Penske Prestige: Penske Secures 100th Win in Wild Late-Race Finishes at Laguna Seca

Penske Racing celebrates 100th win at Laguna Seca  Photo credit: Owen Strode-Jackson

Penske Racing celebrates 100th win at Laguna Seca  Photo credit: Owen Strode-Jackson

MONTEREY, Calif. – It was a climatic finish to IMSA’s premier series event on Sunday afternoon at Laguna Seca, resulting in two late-race passes in the final 30 minutes in both the GTD and GTP classes.

The opening lap set the picture for the afternoon’s style, which saw physical racing all day long, creating great battles for position in the closing hour of the race.

The race finish saw the #7 Porsche Penske Motorsports Porsche 963 (Nick Tandy/Mathieu Jaminet) sneak past the #31 Whelen Cadillac Racing Cadillac V-Series.R (Pipo Derani/Jack Aitken) following a traffic holdup for the Aitken behind one of the fellow GTD Pro Corvettes.

It wouldn’t be the only team that saw frustration in traffic.

The #557 Turner Motorsports BMW (Robby Foley/Patrick Gallagher) ran into GTP traffic that resulted in Gallagher to vier into “Pebble Beach,” allowing for an overtake by Philip Ellis in the #57 Winward Racing Mercedes-AMG (Russell Ward/Philip Ellis).

(Photo Creds: Owen Strode-Jackson; #57 Winward Racing Mercedes-AMG GTd, WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, 5/12/24)

While Turner Motorsports was not able to capitalize on a noteworthy victory in the team’s 557th start with BMW, a manufacturer-team record, “The Captain” Roger Penske’s program secured their 100th career sportscar victory.

Fan-favorite AO Racing capped off the weekend with the team’s first GTD Pro win with the #77 “Rexy” Porsche 911 GT3 R (Seb Priaulx/Laurin Heinrich), fending off the #9 Pfaff Motorsports McLaren following a mid-race overtake at the Andretti Hairpin.

Coming off this weekend’s race at Laguna Seca, there were many storylines created as the dust settled and the series looked ahead towards Detroit.


California seemed to be forgettable for the two Wayne Taylor Racing Acura GTPs. Although the team found some success in the form of their GTD entry, the #45 Lamborghini Hurcan GT3 Evo2 (Danny Formal/Kyle Marcelli), Wayne Taylor Racing w/Andretti showed concerning struggles this weekend.

Unfortunately, pace was hard to come by for the once-powerhouse team in IMSA.

The team had seemed to find their rhythm back at Sebring, grabbing their first win in the GTP era. But the west-coast road trip for Wayne Taylor’s stable looks to have taken some steps back since that point.

(Photo Creds: Owen Strode-Jackson; #40 Wayne Taylor Racing w/Andretti Acura GTP, WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, 5/12/24)

WTR has had success during IMSA’s California run in the past years. However, The Golden State showed off some rust for the two Acuras. While it wasn’t an unsuccessful afternoon for the team, there were some growing pains during this afternoon’s race for both the #40 (Louis Deletraz/Jordan Taylor) and the #10 (Ricky Taylor/Filipe Albuquerque).

Deletraz and Jordan Taylor both grabbed a Top 5 finish for the team, finishing outside the podium in 4th. But the team is going to need to see some improvement if they want to make a run for a championship again this season.

Post Laguna Seca showed that the IMSA GTP championship sprint is solely headed by the powerhouse teams Porsche and Cadillac. Right now, Acura isn’t in that mix.

Put away the past.

This was a much-needed win for Penske in more ways than one. After weeks of turmoil within the team and the racing community, Penske had to find a way to look past the discrepancies and look ahead to the future.

This win may have just changed their luck.

While this wasn’t a weekend that was headed by the Porsche pre-race, Nick Tandy played his cards perfectly to score a prestigious win for one of IMSA’s premier sportscar teams. Tandy didn’t make any mistakes in the final 20 minutes of the race, which can be said for the entire Porsche Penske stable for the majority of the race.

Ironically, tire strategy did play a small part in the finish.

Tandy gradually slimmed the down margin enough to where he was able to stay in distance from Jack Aitken in the #31 due to Aitken’s worn tire level. But the pass that Tandy made on Aitken was stellar and allowed the British veteran to pull away in a block incident for Aitken.

The win for Penske is monumental, but in more ways than one. This may be a chance for Roger Penske to be able to put some of the demons behind the team and look forward. Yes, the team doesn’t affect the IndyCar camp, but the win certainly gives the team new spirits as “The Captain’s” crew prepares for a very important two-week period in Indianapolis for the 108th running of the Indy 500.

Maybe this win is the steppingstone for Team Penske’s resurgence out of the dark cloud.

Final Thoughts

Overall, Laguna Seca provided a great conclusion to a wild Mother’s Day weekend filled with racing.

We truly began to see the shuffle of the GTP field and who were the true contenders amongst the pack.

Also, Winward Racing’s victory adds three to the team’s season win totals, looking to be off to a similar GTD run as the #1 Paul Miller Racing BMW did last season, winning seven races in total last year. While there are still some formidable tracks ahead, including three more 6+ hour endurance races, Winward has proven themselves so far across all styles of racing.

The next time around, IMSA heads back onto the streets, returning to Detroit with the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship for the first time since 2022, when the series departed from Belle Isle.

The Michelin Pilot Challenge did make a one-off stop last season at the track, but it will be a pleasant treat to see the top-class series get to take on Detroit again.


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