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Penske Takes First Overall IMSA Win At Mid-Ohio

Race winning Team Penske Acura DPi driven by Helio Castroneves and Ricky Taylor. [Photo by Jack Webster]

Race winning Team Penske Acura DPi driven by Helio Castroneves and Ricky Taylor. [Photo by Jack Webster]

By Jack Webster

The return of IMSA to Mid-Ohio was a resounding success. The crowds were large, the weather was perfect and the race was a hard-fought contest in all classes, with two of them producing first time winners.

The race was green the entire distance, without a single full course yellow, so the winners had to base their race strategy on outright pace and quick pit stops.

When all was said and done, Helio Castroneves and Ricky Taylor won the Acura Sports Car Challenge at Mid-Ohio, round 4 in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, giving Team Penske and Acura their first overall victory in IMSA competition.

Starting from Pole, the #7 Acura DPi held on to defeat their sister #6 Acura driven by Dane Cameron and Juan Pablo Montoya. Taking the final spot on the podium was the Mazda DPi of Tristan Nunez and Oliver Jarvis, giving Mazda Team Joest a great finish. All three cars were on pace all race long and the Mazda gave the Penske cars a run for the money. At the finish, all three top finishers were separated by less than one second.

Helio was over the moon with the win. “It was great. I got to start the race from pole position. Then I left it to my team mate Ricky and what an incredible job he did. I was biting my nails back there, but in the end of the day he brought it back home in a phenomenal style. I am so proud to be a part of this organization and for myself and Ricky to give Acura the number 1 spot today and the number 1 victory for Acura.”

Ricky Taylor continued: “I’m driving with one of the best organizations in the world and one of the best manufacturers in the world. I can’t say enough about the Acura Team Penske guys on the pit lane and all the prep work. Hopefully this is the start of a strong run for the rest of the year.”

In GTLM, Porsche took the top spot with the #912 Porsche 911 RSR holding off strong challenges from BMW and Corvette. As in the Prototype class, the top three cars were less than one second apart at the finish. Earl Bamber and Laurens Vanthoor piloted the winning Porsche, while Alexander Sims and Connor De Phillippi drove the #25 BMW and Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia were behind the wheel of the #3 Corvette.

In GTD, it was the same story, with the top three cars only one second apart. The Lexus RCF GT3 of Kyle Marcelli and Dominik Baumann took the victory, with the Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 of Alvaro Parente and Katherine Legge taking second while home town favorite Bryan Sellers along with Madison Snow took third in their Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracan.

The forecasted rain did not arrive until well after the race was over, a fact that was surely appreciated by the fans (and at least some of the drivers). All in all, IMSA’s return to Mid-Ohio was quite successful. This circuit is always a fan and driver favorite, and I am sure all are looking forward to returning to Mid-Ohio for many years to come.

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Jack Webster has been shooting motorsports since the early 1970’s, covering Formula One, CanAm, F5000, TransAm, GrandAm and American Le Mans races, among others. In addition to his photography, he has also worked on racing teams, both in IMSA and IndyCar, so has a complete knowledge of the inner workings of motorsport. Both his photography and writing can be seen here on racingnation.com