Cadillac vs. Penske in both entities’ Belle Isle backyard

May 21, 2019

Cadillac vs. Penske in both entities’ Belle Isle backyard

May 21, 2019

When you think of Detroit, you think of General Motors. And when you think of the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix, you think about Roger Penske and the Penske Corporation and the positive impact they have made for the event.

Both are headquartered in Michigan. GM’s base stands proudly as the backdrop to the race. The Penske Corporation is based in Bloomfield Hills.

Penske’s winning pedigree is present in Detroit at The Raceway on Belle Isle Park. The team won overall with its Porsche RS Spyder in 2007 in the American Le Mans Series. The team has six IndyCar wins in Detroit as well, spread between 1994 and 2016.

Roger Penske

The masterstroke of Penske’s business acumen is on display with the different brands Team Penske races in the second and last shared weekend of the year between IMSA and IndyCar.

The Team Penske IndyCar program races Chevrolets, as they have since the “Bowtie” brand re-entered the sport in 2012. Penske’s success on-track helped lead Chevrolet to six consecutive Manufacturer’s Championships through 2017.

But the Penske IMSA Daytona Prototype international (DPi) program races with the Acura ARX-05. Acura’s sister brand Honda is Chevrolet’s rival in IndyCar.

In the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, Acura ended the winning streak Cadillac established to start 2019.

Streaks have been one of the biggest stories in IMSA’s DPi ranks both in 2019 and at Detroit, ahead of next week’s Chevrolet Sports Car Classic.

#5 Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac DPi, DPi: Joao Barbosa, Filipe Albuquerque

Cadillac opened 2019 with three straight wins at Daytona, Sebring and Long Beach. Its Long Beach win came via a strategy call from the Mustang Sampling Racing team. The team opted to only change one right front MICHELIN(R) tire on its final pit stop, and thus completed the final 48 race laps on the rear and left side tires. 

This strategy play beat either of the Penske Acura strategies, which opted for either left sides (No. 6) or rear (No. 7) tires. Those cars finished second and third.

#31 Whelen Engineering Racing Cadillac DPi, DPi: Felipe Nasr, Pipo Derani

IMSA’s DPi competitors now have one street course race under their belt with Michelin’s IMSA Medium compound, which may help somewhat as they prepare for Detroit next race.

Alas Cadillac, as they did at Long Beach, will look to extend its streak of Detroit victories to three years in a row. If they pull that off, they’ll extend their win streak of all IMSA street course races since the formula was introduced in 2017 to six in a row.

The Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R of Jordan and Ricky Taylor claimed a memorable 2017 win. The team came from the back of the DPi grid after a qualifying incident to win its fifth straight race to open the season.

Then last year, the Whelen Engineering Cadillac of Felipe Nasr and Eric Curran scored its only win of the season en route to an eventual DPi title. They beat both Penske Acuras, which finished second and third.

#6 Acura Team Penske Acura DPi, DPi: Juan Pablo Montoya, Dane Cameron, team

But it’s Penske that rides the hot hand of momentum heading to Detroit. Its No. 6 Acura of Juan Pablo Montoya and Dane Cameron finally broke through at the Acura Sports Car Challenge in Mid-Ohio. That pairing had not won yet since the program’s launch to start 2018.

To continue the theme of Cadillac vs. Penske, that’s also how the points shake out after four races. Just eight points separate the top five lineups. These include both Action Express Cadillacs, the Taylor Cadillac and the two Penske Acuras.

Mazda has fared well in Detroit in recent years with podium finishes in both 2016 and 2017. Alas, that was with a different team and a previously modified car compared to the current Mazda Team Joest program.

After a challenging first street course race in Long Beach, the CORE autosport Nissan DPi looks for more laps and a result in Detroit.

In all likelihood though, it figures to be one of the two Detroit locals that comes out on top at The Raceway on Belle Isle.

The Chevrolet Sports Car Classic airs live, Saturday, May 31, at 12:30 p.m. EDT on NBCSN. Live flag-to-flag radio coverage is on IMSA Radio.

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