Triple Crown hunting Juan Pablo Montoya knows a thing or two about racing at Long Beach, as evidenced by his recent induction into the Long Beach Motorsports Walk of Fame. His latest accomplishment came about late yesterday afternoon with the Team Penske driver taking his first ever IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship pole position and, of course, the maiden pole for Penske’s Acura’s ARX-05 Prototype, also in its first season!
Montoya was one of four drivers to brake the current Long Beach track record with a lap of 1m 12.922s (97.155 mph) in the #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 1m 13.549s in 2017 while driving for his family’s #10 Wayne Taylor Racing, Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R. en route to winning last year’s event for the third time.
“Acura and Team Penske have done such a good job on the car this weekend,” said Montoya, who also scored his maiden 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 his Team Penske teammate Helio Castroneves were both inducted into the Long Beach Motorsports Walk of Fame on Thursday. Montoya won the 1999 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on the way to capturing the 1999 CART FedEx Championship Series title and then finished third at Long Beach in 2015 on his last return to the IndyCar series.
And now he will look to return to the top step of the podium at Long Beach, this time in the IMSA WeatherTech Championship, later today in the 100-minute sprint BUBBA Burger Sports Car Grand Prix at Long Beach in the California sunshine.
Montoya will be joined on the front row by the #31 Whelen Cadillac DPi-V.R. of Felipe Nasr who set a lap of 1m 13.109s (96.707 mph). Nasr and co-driver Eric Curran enter this weekend’s race leading the IMSA WeatherTech Championship standings. Series newcomer Harry Tincknell qualified third with a time of 1m 13.156s (96.845 mph) in the #55 Joest run Mazda DPi making it three different Prototype manufacturers in the top three!
Castroneves rounded out the top two rows with a lap time of 1m 13.346s (96.594 mph) in the #7 Acura DPi he co-drives with three-time defending Long Beach race winner and reigning IMSA champion Ricky Taylor.