Castroneves makes winning move in rain at Road America

Helio Castroneves driving the #7 Penske Acura passed Renger van der Zande in the pouring rai
Helio Castroneves driving the #7 Penske Acura dives under the Cadillac of Renger van der Zande in the pouring rain with just 5 min. to go to win the race

Helio Castroneves driving the #7 Penske Acura passed Renger van der Zande in the pouring rain with 5 minutes, 15 seconds left Sunday to win the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Daytona Prototype international (DPi) class of the IMSA SportsCar Weekend at Road America.

Castroneves trailed van der Zande when the race in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, restarted with under eight minutes left following a 21-minute red flag and 22-minute full-course caution, as leader Oliver Jarvis went to the pits for rain tires. Covered by plumes of water from van der Zande’s car and slower traffic in front, Castroneves chased down the leader and eventually passed him when his car bobbled on the exit of Turn 14.

"I couldn’t see a thing," Castroneves said. "I noticed a little gap, and every time you have a little gap when there’s a few laps to go, you go for it."

The victory with teammate Ricky Taylor in the No. 7 Acura Team Penske Acura ARX-05 DPi was the team’s first this season in its first race after Acura announced that it would part ways with Penske’s WeatherTech Championship effort at the end of the 2020 season. Acura Team Penske first competed in the DPi class in 2018 and won the driver, team and manufacturer championships in 2019.

The team had been off to a rough start to the 2020 season, not finishing better than fourth in the first three races. Taylor and Castroneves hadn’t won since 2018.

"We don’t even know where we are in points because it’s pointless to look at them when we finish last every weekend," Taylor said. "There’s always some bad luck or something going on, but this win definitely gives us some momentum. We’ll keep fighting."

[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]Castroneves said the team isn’t focused on the decision, but instead intent on turning the season around.

"Everybody knows the program is going to be forced to an end," Castroneves said. "We don’t think about that. We want to finish on a high note. That’s our goal."

Van der Zande, who teamed with Ryan Briscoe in the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R, held on to finish second. The No. 31 Action Express Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R shared by Felipe Nasr and Pipo Derani finished third.

Taylor, who started from pole alongside the Acura Team Penske No. 6 entry driven by Dane Cameron, led from the drop of the green until the first round of pit stops. He reassumed the lead shortly after Cameron tangled with Harry Tincknell’s No. 55 Mazda Motorsports Mazda DPi 35 minutes into the 2-hour, 40-minute race.

After the No. 7 Penske car changed drivers, Castroneves held spirited battles for the lead with Jarvis, van der Zande and Tincknell before Jarvis assumed the lead shortly before rain began to fall, bringing out the red flag.

Co-Driver Ricky Taylor cheers teammate Helio Castroneves' winning pass in the rain
Co-Driver Ricky Taylor cheers teammate Helio Castroneves' winning pass in the rain

Once the race restarted and Jarvis pitted for rain tires, Castroneves set his sights on van der Zande.

"Our goal is just to go quick," Castroneves said. "We created some momentum, and we want to keep it going. Every time we’re on the racetrack, that’s what we want to do. Hopefully, this helps."

The WeatherTech Championship resumes Aug. 21-23 with the Michelin GT Challenge at VIRginia International Raceway for the GT Le Mans (GTLM) and GT Daytona (GTD) classes. The DPi and LMP2 classes return to competition in a six-hour race at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta on Sept. 6.

Turnabout Is Fair Play as DragonSpeed USA Wins LMP2 Race

Sometimes, it’s all about timing and great decisions.

Ben Hanley and Henrik Hedman, who were at one point more than 45 seconds behind the leaders in the Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2) class during Sunday’s main event of the IMSA SportsCar Weekend at Road America, caught a break when Simon Trummer went off course under yellow with 46 minutes remaining in the two-hour, 40-minute race.

Hanley, piloting the No. 81 DragonSpeed USA ORECA LMP2 07, made a timely change from slick tires to wets and pulled off a surprising victory with help from Hedman’s opening effort.

"I can’t speak much about the rain," said Hedman, who started the car second in class and 10th overall before rain changed the race. "I just thought the team made a crucial call and got Ben in early and got the wets on. That’s what won us the race today."

The No. 52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA led almost the entire first two hours of the race after Patrick Kelly’s sizzling opening effort and Trummer’s strong second half. But with 46 minutes remaining and the field struggling to get around the wet track under caution, Trummer found himself in a tangle, went off course and picked up an advertising sign on the car’s nose.

The No. 52 eventually finished fourth in class, while Hanley brought the No. 81 car home with the LMP2 lead. Cameron Cassels and James French finished second in class in the No. 38 Performance Tech Motorsports ORECA, while Dwight Merriman and Kyle Tilley finished third in the No. 18 Era Motorsport ORECA.

The unusual circumstances of Sunday’s race extended the strange back-and-forth between the Nos. 52 and 81 teams to a second successive race. The No. 81 entry shared by Hedman and Gustavo Menezes was stripped of its victory July 18 at Sebring International Raceway because of disqualification over minimum driving time, giving the win to the No. 52 entry shared by Kelly and Spencer Pigot.

"We should have won the race in Sebring, but we didn’t," Hedman said. "The 52 car probably should have won this race, but they didn’t. We’re happy. We’ll take it. This was a team victory for us today."

No Raining on Corvette Racing’s Parade as Taylor, Garcia Win Team’s Third Straight

#3 Corvette leading GTLM in the rain
#3 Corvette leading GTLM in the rain

Even the drenching wrath of Mother Nature couldn’t prevent the hottest team in IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GT Le Mans (GTLM) competition from continuing its winning ways.

In Sunday’s headlining event at the IMSA SportsCar Weekend at Road America that finished in a drenching downpour, Corvette Racing collected a 1-2 finish. Jordan Taylor and Antonio Garcia drove to victory in the No. 3 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C8.R, with Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner bringing the sister No. 4 Corvette home in second place.

It marked the third straight Corvette win in 2020 competition and second straight 1-2 finish, though the positions were reversed two weeks ago at Sebring International Raceway.

Taylor and Garcia started strong and finished smart, earning the 102nd Corvette win in IMSA history. Taylor got the jump at the green flag on GTLM polesitter Laurens Vanthoor in the No. 912 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR-19 to grab the lead and hold it for the first 30 minutes on the high-speed road course in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.

Vanthoor passed Taylor for the lead on Lap 15 and it looked like the Porsche’s day. That changed as quickly as the Wisconsin weather, however. Rain began falling around the 4.048-mile circuit with 55 minutes remaining in the two-hour, 40-minute race. Soon after, GTLM competitors Earl Bamber in the No. 912 Porsche and Connor De Phillippi in the No. 25 BMW Team RLL BMW M8 GTE were among cars spinning off course to bring out a full-course caution.

Heavy rain, hail and lightning then arrived, forcing all cars to pit lane under red-flag conditions. Following a 21-minute hold, the race resumed under a full-course caution to allow a cycle of pit stops. When the green flag waved with 7:35 on the clock, John Edwards led GTLM in the No. 24 BMW, with Garcia in the No. 3 and Nick Tandy in the No. 911 Porsche on his heels.

Amid the skirmish in the wet with limited visibility on the white-flag lap, both Edwards and Tandy went off course and Garcia snuck through to take the checkered flag. It marked IMSA win No. 18 for the Spaniard.

"It was a very, very intense (last) three laps," admitted Garcia, who notched his first Road America triumph. "I knew from Sebring practice that the C8.R was really, really good in the wet, even if today was more than wet. I had Tandy all over me; we had many, many times where we were alongside and kind of sailing together instead of racing together.

"I knew the Carousel and the Kink was really bad, like going into a swimming pool. I took the line I took on the previous lap and it seemed to work while defending from Tandy. … At some point while I was full off to the left, I saw the 24 (Edwards) spinning by himself very, very slowly.

"I was probably one of the few cars that made it through and luckily enough Tommy did the same, so another 1-2 for Corvette Racing, which is amazing. My first victory at Road America, finally!"

Taylor picked up his 22nd career win and added a first by winning on the same day in a different car as his brother Ricky, who took the overall and Daytona Prototype international (DPi) win with Helio Castroneves in the No. 7 Acura Team Penske Acura ARX-05.

"It was a wild day, very unexpected," Jordan Taylor said. "The race started out strong. We took a different strategy with the three stops at the beginning and thankfully that turned out to work well in timing with the rain, and track-position-wise.

"Antonio never gave up. It was a tough fight in the tough conditions, but he survived when he needed to survive and he pressured the 24 when he needed to."

ANTONIO GARCIA, NO. 3 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C8.R – GTLM RACE-WINNER: "It was super tough. Because of the wave-by, we were at the back of all the GTD cars. So the spray we had back there was amazing. It was impossible to see anything. The first thing was to go by a couple of LMP2 cars while fighting (Nick) Tandy to catch up to the 24 BMW. It was a very intense three laps. I knew from Sebring practice that the Corvette C8.R was really good in the wet, even if today was beyond wet! I had Nick all over me, and we had many times when we were together… almost just sailing together instead of racing together. I knew the Carousel and the Kink were going to be really bad, and the line I took on the previous lap seemed to work. Luckily enough for me it was the same and I was one of the few cars to make it through. It's another 1-2 finish for Corvette Racing, which is amazing. It's finally my first victory at Road America, so it's been a very good weekend."

WHAT DID YOU SEE OF THE BMW AHEAD OF YOU? DID HE SPIN ON HIS OWN?

"The Carousel and the Kink were almost impossible to go through that part of the track. There is really nothing you can do there. It depends on the depth of the water. The Corvette C8.R survived it better than the rest. I don't know if it was due to the race line I took. I was following the car behind me and saw the BMW lose control. The race still wasn't done because I had to do another lap through there. It's a credit to how good the C8.R is in the wet. Thanks to everyone at Team Chevy because this car seems to be working in all conditions."

HOW IMPORTANT IS THIS WIN TO EXTEND YOUR POINTS LEAD?

"We didn't know starting the season how the C8.R would be. With the fourth at Daytona, we saw the potential of the car. Our team did a great job during the shutdown with fixing things that needed to be corrected. We've had a chance to win the last three races, and we've converted those. We need to keep putting pressure on everyone and make the rest of the field make mistakes. On our own, we need to be their in the end and maximize our points opportunities. The next one is VIR, where we have tested with the new Corvette. We will do what we can to keep this momentum and carrying on winning."

#4 Corvette was 2nd in GTLM for a Corvette 1-2
#4 Corvette was 2nd in GTLM for a Corvette 1-2

JORDAN TAYLOR, NO. 3 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C8.R – GTLM RACE-WINNER: "It was a wild day…very unexpected. The race started off strong for us. We took a different strategy to go with three stops from the beginning. Thankfully it worked out well with the timing the rain and track position. Antonio never gave up. It was a tough fight in tough conditions, but he did a great job of surviving for our second win of the year and third of the year for Corvette Racing."

THIS RACE WAS ON THE NATIONAL NBC NETWORK. WAS THIS THE KIND OF EXCITEMENT THAT WAS GOOD FOR NETWORK TV?

"It had a bit of everything. The start for me was exciting, and the battles were all good. I could see on the big screen across the frontstretch that the prototype battle was often exciting and had a little bit of everything with the strategies. The weather was a bit different for those who probably turn into NBC for NASCAR where they wouldn't run in the rain. There were probably too many crashes for everyone's liking, but the show was very exciting with the battle for the win at the end. You like to see that between the manufacturers."

TALK ABOUT WINNING ON THE SAME DAY AS YOUR BROTHER (RICKY TAYLOR):

"It's definitely cool. I think this is the first time we've won on the same weekend. I know we've gotten a pole on the same weekend, but in all the years a win has never gone both our ways. It was cool to watch their battle at the end with the 10 car. I know my dad's team hasn't won here either, and we tried hard for many years."

No. 12 AVS Vasser Sullivan Lexus Slips and Slides to GTD Win

You know it’s a strange day when the winning car in a race limps home with damage sustained after the checkered flag.

That’s the kind of race it was for the GT Daytona class (GTD) in the IMSA SportsCar Weekend at Road America on Sunday. Frankie Montecalvo and Townsend Bell delivered AIM Vasser Sullivan its third win in as many IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship races, coming after teammates Aaron Telitz and Jack Hawksworth captured the previous two events.

Telitz started on the GTD pole in the No. 14 Lexus RC F GT3, with Montecalvo alongside in the No. 12 Lexus. Bell was able to overtake Hawksworth following the first round of pit stops and the No. 12 remained out front until the skies opened up with less than an hour remaining in the two-hour, 40-minute race on the popular 14-turn, 4.048-mile road course in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.

Heavy rain, hail and lightning forced a 21-minute red flag. When green-flag racing resumed with the rain still coming down, Bell and Hawksworth were still running 1-2. That’s when the real fun began.

Mario Farnbacher made his way from fifth to second on the final restart in the No. 86 Meyer Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian Acura NSX GT3. A lap later, Farnbacher completed a brilliant outside pass on Bell in Turn 12 to take the lead. It was short-lived, however, with the No. 86 going off track on the white-flag lap, opening the path for Bell to retake the lead and hold on for the win.

It was the fourth IMSA win for Bell and maiden victory for Montecalvo. Farnbacher and Matt McMurry finished second in the No. 86, with Telitz and Hawksworth rounding out the podium in the No. 14.

"Farnbacher, he was going big around the outside and got by us kind of easily," Bell said of the penultimate lap. "We kind of hung in there and I was coming out of the Carousel looking up the road (on the last lap), and there he was sliding out in the grass near the wall. I hit that standing water and thought I was going to lose it.

"I just put my foot down and just started grabbing gears. The Lexus just barely hooked up and I got by him. That’s all it took and then the yellow came out."

Farnbacher said he battled brake issues in the No. 86 Acura, which didn’t help his effort in the wet.

"I just tried to survive," he said. "We came in early for rain tires and I think that was the key point, so thanks to Mike (Shank, team co-owner and strategist) and the guys for putting me into the right strategy. That was the reason we finished on the podium. We should have won it, but that’s racing sometimes."

Bell’s excitement wasn’t complete once the checkered flag waved. As he nursed around the circuit on the cooldown lap, the No. 12 skittered off track and bounced off a concrete barrier.

"If that had happened a lap earlier, we would have lost the race under caution at 20 mph," Bell said. "That’s how bad the conditions were. It’s kind of embarrassing, but I’m not sure I could do much else. I was just driving in a straight line as slow as I could go, and it just floated off the track."

Montecalvo didn’t care how the car looked after the race. He was just happy to get his first win.

"Thanks to Townsend and the crew today to get this win for the 12 car," he said. "We feel great for the guys. So, for everything to work out for us this race, it feels amazing. Everyone made a phenomenal call in the pits, throwing on the wets at the perfect time, it really worked out for us. It was a great race for us."

Results

Pos PiC No. CL Drivers Car Laps Behind/Gap
1 1 7 DPi H. Castroneves/R. Taylor Acura DPi 63 0.000s 0.000s
2 2 10 DPi R. van der Zande/R. Briscoe Cadillac DPi 63 0.383 0.383
3 3 31 DPi F. Nasr/P. Derani Cadillac DPi 63 4.131 3.748
4 4 5 DPi J. Barbosa/S. Bourdais Cadillac DPi 63 36.994 32.863
5 5 55 DPi J. Bomarito/H. Tincknell Mazda DPi 63 40.192 3.198
6 6 77 DPi O. Jarvis/T. Nunez Mazda DPi 63 +1 min
7 7 85 DPi C. Miller/T. Vautier Cadillac DPi 62 1 Lap 1 Lap
8 1 81 LMP2 H. Hedman/B. Hanley ORECA LMP2 07 61 2 Laps 1 Lap
9 8 6 DPi D. Cameron/J. Montoya Acura DPi 61 2 Laps 5.179
10 1 3 GTLM A. Garcia/J. Taylor Chevrolet Corvette C8.R 60 3 Laps 1 Lap
11 2 4 GTLM O. Gavin/T. Milner Chevrolet Corvette C8.R 60 3 Laps 10.001
12 2 38 LMP2 J. French/C. Cassels ORECA LMP2 07 60 3 Laps 2.602
13 3 18 LMP2 D. Merriman/K. Tilley ORECA LMP2 07 60 3 Laps 10.471
14 3 24 GTLM J. Krohn/J. Edwards BMW M8 GTE 60 3 Laps 1.998
15 4 911 GTLM N. Tandy/F. Makowiecki Porsche 911 RSR – 19 58 Not Running
16 5 912 GTLM E. Bamber/L. Vanthoor Porsche 911 RSR – 19 58 5 Laps 7:14.325
17 1 12 GTD F. Montecalvo/T. Bell Lexus RC F GT3 57 6 Laps 1 Lap
18 2 86 GTD M. Farnbacher/M. McMurry Acura NSX GT3 57 6 Laps 0.937
19 3 14 GTD A. Telitz/J. Hawksworth Lexus RC F GT3 57 6 Laps 15.599
20 4 63 GTD C. MacNeil/T. Vilander Ferrari 488 GT3 57 6 Laps 3.527
21 5 16 GTD R. Hardwick/P. Long Porsche 911 GT3R 57 6 Laps 2.800
22 6 74 GTD G. Robinson/L. Aschenbach Mercedes-AMG GT3 57 6 Laps 2.094
23 7 96 GTD R. Foley/B. Auberlen BMW M6 GT3 57 6 Laps 1.268
24 8 44 GTD J. Potter/A. Lally Lamborghini Huracan GT3 57 6 Laps 0.399
25 9 76 GTD C. Fergus/P. Holton McLaren 720S GT3 57 6 Laps 1.678
26 10 30 GTD R. Ferriol/S. Pumpelly Audi R8 LMS GT3 57 6 Laps 2:09.444
27 6 25 GTLM B. Spengler/C. De Phillippi BMW M8 GTE 55 Not Running
28 11 22 GTD T. Bechtolsheimer/M. Miller Acura NSX GT3 55 8 Laps14:30.131
29 4 52 LMP2 P. Kelly/S. Trummer ORECA LMP2 07 54 Not Running
30 12 57 GTD A. Parente/M. Goikhberg Acura NSX GT3 48 Not Running

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