Dane Cameron says that Acura Team Penske is “wary” of the challenge from its DPi class competitors despite locking out the front row of the grid for today’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race at Road America.
Cameron scored the Penske squad’s fourth pole of the season with a record lap time in the No. 6 Acura ARX-05 that he shares with Juan Pablo Montoya, while the pair also led the first three practice sessions.
Despite Acura topping each of the on-track sessions held so far, he expects Mazda, Nissan and Cadillac to improve in the race and pose a greater threat at the sharp end of the field.
Mazda locked out the second row of the grid, while the best of the Cadillac DPi-V.Rs qualified 1.1 seconds down in fifth.
“All year the Cadillacs haven’t quite been as quick as the Acuras and Mazdas in overall pace in qualifying, but they always seem to be there in race trim,” Cameron told Sportscar365.
“We’re always wary of the Cadillacs and will by no means underestimate them. We’ve seen sweeps in qualifying for a number of races and the Cadillacs are always there at the end.
“So we’re aware of the threat from all of the Cadillac cars.”
Cameron said that the Penske team’s specific preparation for this weekend’s Road Race Showcase has given it the advantage heading into the antepenultimate round.
“We had a really strong test here and not many people came to test, so that’s always an advantage to get track time here,” he said.
“The conditions were pretty similar, so that’s helped us a lot. We’ve just been working really hard on the car which is beautiful to drive right now. I think we’re just really taking advantage of it.
“It’s nice to see everything clicking together and it was a bit of a surprise to lead every single session.”
Cameron “Hungry” for Third Title
The 2016 series champion suggested that the No. 6 Acura crew needs to maintain its approach to the final three rounds of the season as the DPi title race hots up.
Cameron and Montoya currently hold a three-point lead over Felipe Nasr and Pipo Derani in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac with three races left to run.
“I’ve won it a couple of times so actually I’m not super stressed about it,” he said.
“But I’m hungry to win a third one. It would be really special, and obviously we came on the back foot from a really poor start to the year.
“At the start, we weren’t thinking about the championship. We just wanted to win a couple of races and see. It then sort of turned into a championship push of a year.
“We’re hungry for it and we want it, but it’s not changing the outlook or the focus of what we want to do.”
Cameron added that visiting circuits a second time around has helped Penske to achieve greater consistency during its sophomore season in the top IMSA prototype class.
“Having a notebook makes a nice change. Coming here for the first time, we just had no idea how the car is going to change over the race and what problems might come up,” he said.
“For us, we were a year behind on the DPi formula, so now we can identify problems on the car from last year and what we need to address.
“On all fronts: car-wise, personnel-wise, driver-wise, every kind of facet of this program has grown.”