Juan Pablo-Montoya in the #6 Acura Team Penske ARX-05 topped the dogfight that was the DPi qualifying session. Montoya’s best time was a 1:19.373 and he bested his teammates in the #7 Acura Team Penske ARX-05 by two-tenths of a second.
“Its great everybody at Acura Team Penske did a great job. We struggled this morning with the balance but in qualifying it was good. Every lap just kept getting better and better,” said Montoya.
“It’s huge, especially on street course it is big, getting pole position is good for track position. Tomorrow anything can happen. It’s interesting because the tyres don’t go off, we can keep pushing and it keeps getting quicker.”
The aforementioned #7 Acura secured an all Acura front row for the race start. Helio Castroneves had qualifying duties in the #7 Acura, he improved on his final lap but was still just short of the mark set by Montoya.
Rounding out the top three was Jonathon Bomarito in the #55 Mazda RT-24P. Bomarito’s fastest lap was also his last one and he laid down a 1:19.960 as he raced under the waving checkered flag.
Pipo Derani, who had topped both of the Free Practice sessions this morning, entered the session as the clear favourite. Though, by the end, the Brazilian had to settle for fourth in his #31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R. His best time was a 1:19.960 and for a moment it appeared good enough for pole until the Montoya and Castroneves found extra speed.
The #85 JDC-Miller Motorsports Cadillac DPi-V.R. of Misha Goikhberg and Tristan Vautier suffered a significant crash in the first free practice session. With most of the front right side of the car destroyed the JDC-Miller mechanics did well to repair the car and get Goikhberg and Vautier back on track before the start of Free Practice 2.
Despite their valiant efforts, Goikhberg struggled to find pace in Qualifying, he ended the session in tenth and over three seconds slower than his teammate, Simon Trummer, in the sister #84 JDC-Miller Cadillac DPi-V.R.
Robby Foley put the #96 Turner Motorsports BMW M6 GT3 to the fore of the class with the best time of 1:29.704. This marks the first IMSA pole position for the 22-year-old Foley.
“We’ve had pretty bad luck this year, but we’ve had the speed and we showed it today.” Said Foley. “We didn’t think we would be this strong, but the team set up a good car. We’ve had no luck, but always good speed so this is a good way to turn it around.”
At the start of the weekend, it seemed as if Turner Motorsports’ run of bad luck would not change. A gearbox actuator failure left their BMW M6 stuck in fourth gear and cost them a considerable amount of time in the second free practice session. Despite that, Foley put together a session-topping lap when it counted most.
Rolling off next to the Turner Motorsports BMW will be the #73 Park Place Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R. Rising Porsche talent Zacharie Robichon was on qualifying duty and the Canadian set a best lap time of 1:29.735, just 0.031 seconds off the pole time set by Foley.
Christina Nielsen, continuing with the Heinricher and Meyer Shank Racing effort in the IMSA Sprint Cup, went third quickest in the session. Nielsen completed nine laps with her best time being a 1:30.126. That means the #57 Acura NSX GT3 of Nielsen and Katherine Legge will start tomorrow’s 100-minute race in third.
Another notable point in GTD was the #76 Compass Racing McLaren 720s GT3. That car underwent repairs following an incident in one of the practice sessions earlier in the day. Matt Plumb was in for qualifying and set a best time of 1.30:814, good enough for just eighth in class.
The #8 Starworks Audi R8 LMS GT3 of Parker Chase and Ryan Dalziel will start from the rear of the grid. Chase went out to attempt a qualifying run for the team but was unable to set a competitive time as a result of a broken suspension.
The race is set for 12:30 PM EDT or 16:30 GMT later today. It can be watched on IMSA.tv outside of the United States or on NBC Sports inside the United States. Notably, rain is in the forecast and could play a factor in the race.
UPDATE: A post-qualifying technical inspection has revealed an infraction on the pole-sitting #96 Turner Motorsports BMW M6 GT3. As a result of the infraction, the car will start from the rear of the GT Daytona field.
This has promoted the #73 Park Place Porsche 911 GT3 R to pole position. This is the first pole position for Robichon, the 2018 Porsche GT3 Cup Canada champion.
According to the bulletin provided by IMSA, the camber setup on the #96 BMW M6 was found to have been outside of the accordance of the rules. Per the regulations, all of the times set by the car in the session have been deleted and it will start from last.
Compass Racing was also penalised. The #76 McLaren has had two of its laps deleted, one of them being its best lap, a 1:30.814. The Compass Racing crew’s best lap time is now a 1:31.131 as a result. This means that Paul Holton and Matt Plumb will now start ninth, just one spot behind their initial starting position of eighth.
An additional penalty has also been dealt out after the post-qualifying inspection. This penalty involves the #76 Compass Racing McLaren 720s GT3. IMSA, in its bulletin, described the car as “exceeding the low overboost counter limit.”