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The Heat Will Be On At IMSA’s Return To Racing

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, July 4 2020

Team Penske’s Juan Pablo Montoya says racing at Daytona in July will be cool but hot. (Photo courtesy of IMSA)

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – When IMSA’s WeatherTech SportsCar Championship returns to action Saturday at Daytona International Speedway after a five-month hiatus due to the pandemic, it will be the first time the DPi competitors have ever had to deal with Florida’s intense July heat and humidity at the 3.81-mile road course.

“Daytona is going to be hard for us,” says Juan Pablo Montoya, who drives an Acura for Team Penske. 

Normally, the series is in Florida for only two races, the Rolex 24 in January and the 12-Hours of Sebring in March. However, that all changed this year when the COVID-19 pandemic forced a shuffling of the schedule. It’s resulted in the drivers focusing their downtime on staying fit in order to avoid any physical repercussions once racing resumed.

“I have been on the bike a lot. I think I have gotten up to 3,000 miles on the bike already,” said Montoya, who led Friday evening’s practice session for the WeatherTech 240. 

Montoya said he wasn’t too worried about the intense heat expected for Saturday night’s 2-hour 40-minute race because of the three- and four-hour bike rides he had done in the Miami area where he resides. On Wednesday morning he was karting. He checked the temperature gauge on the kart before he got into the car and it read 104 degrees.

“The heat doesn’t seem to bother me too much,” Montoya said. “The last few days I have been riding road bikes in the morning and mountain bikes in the afternoon.”

Montoya noted that “normally you fall out of the seat really fast” in a shifter kart, but he didn’t have any issues on Wednesday. 

Helio Castroneves said he had become more involved in cycling this year, but he had always focused more on CrossFit training. 

“Over the last three weeks I have started doing the road karts as well so I could get my mind, my reflexes a little bit more polished and, hopefully, when we go back to the car we don’t have to have that much of a transition,” said Castroneves, whose Acura Team Penske was the quickest in Saturday’s qualifying. 

“I feel because of this situation everybody is really strong in terms of fitness and probably will do better than before because we’re not traveling as much.”

Dane Cameron noted he drove a GT3 car for a couple of laps a few weeks ago and he felt fine.

“I honestly didn’t feel like I had been away for as long as it has been,” Cameron commented. 

Ricky Taylor says the karting helps get one’s senses right and stay sharp.

“We need to build a good base now because once we get back into the season it’s all going to happen really fast and we’re not going to be able to keep any sort of training regiment or consistency like we have now,” Taylor said. 

The WeatherTech 240 At Daytona is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. on NBCSN. It then moves to Sebring for a July 17-18 event.

 

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, July 4 2020
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