Montoya: Run to IMSA title "more stressful" than expected
Juan Pablo Montoya has described his and Acura Team Penske teammate Dane Cameron's run to IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship title glory in Saturday's Petit Le Mans as "more stressful than we hoped".
Montoya and Cameron, joined in the #6 Acura ARX-05 by Indianapolis 500 winner Simon Pagenaud for the 10-hour Road Atlanta race, needed just to finish eighth to be sure of a title that has looked theirs to lose since their back-to-back wins at Mid-Ohio and Detroit.
Taking a conservative approach, the trio dropped off the lead lap in the eighth hour but kept out of trouble to take fourth place, and clinch the title by five points ahead of Action Express Racing Cadillac drivers Felipe Nasr and Pipo Derani.
It came after a Balance of Performance adjustment that gave the Cadillac runners a 15kg weight break following a long winless run for the American brand.
“It was probably a lot more stressful than we hoped," Montoya admitted after clinching the title. "Actually I think we were really surprised. They keep adjusting the BoP because we were running really good. This is a horsepower track so it was really hard.
"All weekend we were stressed. We were in a position that we knew, it was good enough that we had a big enough advantage that we needed to finish eighth. But one mistake and you’re done.
"When you join Team Penske, when you come to this program and with Acura, they expect this. It’s great that we won it, but if we didn’t they’d be disappointed."
Cameron added: "It was a little stressful and a little long. It might have been better to finish with a shorter race. A 10-hour race is a long time. When you [have] a bit of a cushion you’re sort of waiting and hoping nothing goes wrong.
"Just trying to get to the end was more stressful than anything. We knew we were in good shape. That was the fear the whole day."
This season marks Cameron's second IMSA Prototype crown, following his 2016 success with Action Express back in 2016 alongside Eric Curran - and on that occasion the American pair were also joined by Pagenaud for the Petit Le Mans finale.
"Juan and I had a really great year," said Cameron. "I had him [Pagenaud] alongside me the last time I won a prototype championship [in 2016], it’s really cool to have him back here. It’s cool too because Juan was the first guy to drive this car ever.
"It’s really cool to just win the championship for something you’ve had so much influence in its development and its growth. It's a nice rebound from the learning year we had last year to come back and win three races and win the title, it's fantastic."
The sister #7 Acura of Helio Castroneves and Ricky Taylor - joined at Road Altanta by Graham Rahal - finished the season finale in third, taking the same position in the standings, 18 points down on Montoya and Cameron.
#6 Acura Team Penske Acura DPi, DPi: Juan Pablo Montoya
Photo by: Michael L. Levitt / Motorsport Images
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