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Sebring Forecast: Rain With A Chance Of More Penske Success

| , RacinToday.com Saturday, March 16 2019
Wet weather is expected to plague Satuday’s 12-hour race at Sebring. (Photo courtesy of IMSA)

RacinToday.com

An tentacle of the Team Penske racing octopus has reached all the way to Sebring, Fla. as one its IMSA program will start Saturday’s 12-hour race in both the pole position and the favored to win position.

Doing the honors for Penske in pole qualifying at the annual once-around-the-clock event was Dane Cameron.

Cameron scored his third career IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship pole and will lead the 38-car grid to the green flag for Saturday’s 12-hour race with a lap of one minute, 45.865 seconds (125.837 mph) in the No. 6 Acura DPi for Acura Team Penske on Thursday.

Penske teams and drivers are off to big starts in all the series in which they compete in 2019.

In NASCAR, Penske drivers Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano have won two of the four Cup Series races. Both of the victories came at tracks where the new rules packages have been in force, showing which team most quickly adapted to the reduced-horsepower and increased downforce packages mandated by NASCAR for the 2019 season.

Over in IndyCar, Team Penske drivers Will Power and Josef Newgarden collect the pole and the victory respectively in last weekends season-opening race in St. Petersburg, Fla.

And now, Sebring, the venerable and prestigious race held at the bumpy concrete former bomber base in central Florida.

“There is nothing better than the view in the front,” Cameron said. “I’m super, super proud of this effort.

“Acura Team Penske has been doing a good job. Last year was good, but definitely not up to our standard. We worked super hard over the winter and worked with HPD to try to make improvements to figure out our weaknesses. We started strong at Daytona and starting strong again here. I’m just really proud of the effort and to be strong in year two making sure we’re improving on the things we learned from last year.”

Sharing driving duties with Cameron this weekend will be former NASCAR/Formula 1/IndyCara driver Juan Pablo Montoya and current IndyCar driver Simon Pagenaud.

A second Penske Acura will start third in the DPi field thanks to a stellar qualifying effort by Helio Castroneves No. 7 Acura DPi.

The race is scheduled to start at 10:30 a.m. ET. The forecast, in addition to being sunny for Penske, is for rain at the track.

CNBC will kick off NBC Sports’ complete live U.S. coverage starting at 10:30 a.m. ET.

At 1 p.m. ET, coverage shifts to the NBC Sports App for two hours before moving to NBCSN for the duration of the Twelve Hours. IMSARadio also will have complete live coverage on IMSA.com, RadioLeMans.com and SiriusXM Radio (Sirius 216/XM 201/Internet 972).

Drivers got a taste of wet track conditions in Saturday morning’s 20-minute warm up session.

The No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R spun and made relatively light contact with a barrier, but the GT Daytona (GTD) class car Hargrove shares with Zacharie Robichon and Lars Kern is expected to be on the grid and ready to race. A few other cars also spun during the warm-up session, but none incurred any substantial damage.

The wet weather is a departure from the bright sunshine and warm temperatures the teams and drivers experienced throughout the week at Sebring International Raceway. Wet conditions bring an added challenge for the competitors to overcome in the Twelve Hours.

“I think we have a very good car for the race, as we’ve seen on the dry,” said No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R driver Pipo Derani, who is going for his third overall victory four Sebring starts. “On the wet, it changes completely, but I’m hoping for just a safe race. If it’s rain, I’m pretty sure we’re going to figure something out, but for now we have a good car in the dry.

“If it could stay dry, I think it’s less chaos for everyone. It makes it for a better show for the fans, so I would prefer dry racing, but you never know. It’s a 12-hour race. It can have plenty of types of weather conditions during 12 hours, so we’ve just got to be focused and maintain our calm to get to the end.”

| , RacinToday.com Saturday, March 16 2019
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