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IMSA: Penske, Ganassi take Long Beach poles


No. 6 Acura Team Penske ARX-05 at Long Beach. Photo courtesy of IMSA

The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship joins the Verizon IndyCar Series this weekend on the streets of the Long Beach for their shortest race of the year, the BUBBA Burger Sports Car Grand Prix.

Therefore, it seems only fitting that the teams who will lead the Prototype and GT Le Mans fields to the green are IndyCar teams, and a pair of IndyCar stalwarts at that.

A thrilling qualifying session saw track records fall for both classes, with some last-minute heroics coming to the fore in the GTLM class as well.

Reports on both classes are below.

Montoya gives Penske its First IMSA Pole

It was only a matter of time before the powerhouse Acura Team Penske squad scored its first noteworthy result in IMSA competition, and it came at the hands of Juan Montoya, who put the No. 6 ARX-05 on pole and set a new IMSA track record with a quick lap of 1:12.922, the only Prototype time in the 1:12 bracket.

Montoya’s lap was able to withstand challenges from Felipe Nasr in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R for Action Express, with Nasr qualifying second on a lap of 1:13.109.

Mazda Team Joest impressed during qualifying with Harry Tincknell putting the No. 55 RT24-P third on the grid, while Helio Castroneves put the sister No. 7 Acura Penske in fourth.

Joao Barbosa rounded out the Top 5 in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac for Action Express. Of note: the No. 85 JDC-Miller Motorsports Oreca 07 Gibson did not set a qualifying time after the car suffered mechanical troubles during practice.

Final Lap Heroics from Hand Net Ford, Chip Ganassi GTLM Pole

It took a final lap stunner from Ford Chip Ganassi Racing’s Joey Hand to put the No. 66 Ford GT on pole. Hand’s final lap of 1:16.869 was the only GTLM time below 1:17.000, with Porsche GT Team’s Laurens Vanthoor, who led much of the session, the next line with a 1:17.013 in the No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR.

Vanthoor’s teammate Patrick Pilet qualified third in the sister No. 911 Porsche, with the Corvette Racing duo of Jan Magnussen and Oliver Gavin qualifying fourth and fifth in the Nos. 3 and 4 Corvette C7.Rs. Of note: Gavin lost his two fastest laps after he exceeded track limits in Turn 1.

Richard Westbrook qualified the No. 67 Ford in sixth, followed by the BMW Team RLL M8 GTE entries of Connor De Phillippi and Jesse Krohn, who line up seventh and eighth in the Nos. 25 and 24 BMW machines.

Full results can be viewed here. The BUBBA Burger Sports Car Grand Prix rolls off at 4:00 p.m. ET on Saturday.