Courtesy of IMSA

IMSA: Acura Team Penske wins thriller in Detroit

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Team Penske has earned its first IMSA win at Detroit’s Belle Isle Park since 2007, with Dane Cameron taking the No. 6 Acura DPi to Victory Lane after holding off the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi of Felipe Nasr in the closing laps.

The victory was the second consecutive for the duo of Cameron and Juan Pablo Montoya, as the No. 6 team previously won the last WeatherTech SportsCar Championship round earlier this month at Mid-Ohio.

“We’ve just been getting better and better,” Cameron told NBC Sports. “Juan did an absolute hell of a job in qualifying. It was pretty amazing, that lap he did. [In the race], we got jumped there in the cycle and I wasn’t real happy about it, so we made sure we made it up to the front. From there, it was just about looking forward and executing. Hats off to everybody at Acura Team Penske.”

Montoya, who started from the pole, led the race early before swapping driving duties with Cameron, who took the lead back on Lap 26 when the No. 77 Team Joest Mazda of Tristan Nunez pitted under green.

Nasr would challenge Cameron for the lead during the final 20 minutes of the race, but Nasr was unable to complete a pass and had to settle with a second-place finish for himself and co-driver Pipo Derani. The No. 7 Acura Team Penske entry of Ricky Taylor and Helio Castroneves rounded out the podium, finishing third.

Hawksworth, Heistand Win in GTD

There was also a repeat winner in GT Daytona, as the No. 14 AIM Vasser Sullivan Lexus of Jack Hawksworth and Richard Heistand took their second consecutive class victory. After outdueling Mario Farnbacher and Meyer Shank Racing at Mid-Ohio, Hawksworth took an 0.828-second win today over the No. 73 Park Place Motorsports Porsche of Patrick Long.

Long’s co-driver, Zach Robichon, led the race from the pole, before Hawksworth took the lead with 48 minutes remaining. Hawksworth didn’t surrender the lead for the rest of the race.

“I had a good feeling about today,” Hawksworth told NBC Sports. “You give me a sniff of a win, I’m going to go for it and I’m going to try to win the thing, so that’s what I did.”

AIM Vasser Sullivan’s other Lexus entry, the No. 12 of Frankie Montecalvo and NBC Sports’ own Townsend Bell, finished third in GTD.

The next race of the 2019 WeatherTech SportsCar Championship is the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen at Watkins Glen International on June 30. Live coverage begins at 9:30am ET on the NBC Sports App, and the race will air on NBCSN at 7 p.m. ET.

Unofficial Results

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Mario Andretti says Colton Herta could be next American star in F1

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Mario Andretti’s last Formula One victory is also the last by an American driver in more than 42 years on the international open-wheel road racing series.

If you had told Andretti that while he was celebrating on the Grand Prix of the Netherlands podium on Aug. 27, 1978 at the Vandzoort circuit, he wouldn’t have believed it.

“Absolutely not,” Andretti told Kyle Petty during the most recent “Coffee With Kyle” episode (video above). “It’s a shame. Somehow we have so much talent here, and either there’s no invitation or something there. But I think it’s time to give some of this young talent that, in my opinion, is absolutely capable.”

The Dutch GP was the last of Andretti’s 12 victories in F1 and came during his championship season. No one since has come close to matching his success in F1.

Mario Andretti drives his Lotus-Ford to victory in the 1978 Grand Prix of the Netherlands (Bernard Cahier/Getty Images).

Andretti’s son, Michael, took a full-time ride with McLaren in 1993 but left with three races remaining in a season marred by crashes and mechanical problems.

Scott Speed was the last American to run a full F1 season in 2006, and Alexander Rossi made the most recent F1 start by a U.S. driver in 2015. Rossi has said he has no desire to return to racing in Europe after winning the 2016 Indianapolis 500 and becoming an IndyCar championship contender.

But Mario Andretti believes Andretti Autosport has another rising star with F1-caliber ability.

“Colton Herta is one that comes to mind,” Mario Andretti said. “As a young lad, his dad sent him to Europe, he was doing Formula 3, and he knows most of the circuits there. He’s trained. He’s showed in his rookie season and won some premium races at COTA (and Laguna Seca), beat two of the very best Indy has to offer (in) Will Power and Scott Dixon.

“This is one kid I’d love to see him get a break over there to fly the U.S. colors again.”

Herta, 20, seems interested in exploring an F1 leap over the next few years. After winning Sept. 13 at Mid-Ohio from the pole position (his third career victory in the NTT IndyCar Series), the No. 88 Dallara-Honda driver is ranked fourth in the standings in his sophomore year and regarded as one of the series’ top prospects.

Herta recently told RACER.com “I’d love to give Formula 1 a crack” but said he also would be happy driving in IndyCar and IMSA.

A naturalized U.S. citizen who told Petty about spending several years with his family in an Italian refugee camp before coming to America, Mario Andretti said F1 brought an enormous sense of patriotic pride.

“Formula One is like the Olympics in a sense,” he said. “You’re in a different country, a different continent. When you earn that highest step of the podium, they play your national anthem. That’s when you take nothing for granted. You feel like I’m representing my country, and the proudest moments are those.

“I’d just like to see some other American drivers experience that. It’s time.”

Mario Andretti with four-time NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon and six-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton before the Nov. 22, 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).

During the “Coffee With Kyle” conversation, Andretti also discussed:

–His versatility as a winner in IndyCar, sports cars, NASCAR and Formula One;

–His 1967 Daytona 500 victory and how he enjoyed racing with crew chief Jake Elder at the famed Holman-Moody team;

Mario Andretti Colton Herta
Mario Andretti and Kyle Petty saluted “The King” by wearing their Richard Petty-style hats during the latest “Coffee With Kyle” (NBCSN).

–Why he delayed his entry to F1 for a few years because of his earnings power in IndyCar. “I always say I’d race for free, but at the same time, you’re thinking of family and the future,” he said. “It was in the back of your mind that you can’t give up the earning power of IndyCar. That kept me from going full time in Formula One, but I always said that sometime in my career, I’d have to devote a period to Formula One.”

–On what it was like racing in an era when driver deaths were more prevalent. “If you’re going to do this, you’re not going to dwell on those negatives,” Andretti said. “There’s no way. You knew it was present. Especially in the ‘60s at the beginning of the season at the drivers meetings, you couldn’t help but look around and say, ‘I wonder who is not going to be here at the end of the season.’ We’d lose four to five guys. In ’64, we lost six guys.

“It’s something if you dwell on that, you’re going to take on a different profession. It’s a desire and love to want to drive that overcame all that and then the confidence it’s not going to happen to me. And then you pray.”

Watch the full “Coffee With Kyle” episode in the video above or by clicking here.

Mario Andretti looks on before the 103rd Indianapolis 500 on May 26, 2019 (Chris Graythen/Getty Images).