Dane Cameron muscles way to SportsCar victory
Detroit — Dane Cameron bumped and passed his way past Jordan Taylor two-thirds through the Tudor United SportsCar Championship series race, then held off his Action Express Racing teammate Joao Barbosa to win his first Prototype race Saturday afternoon on Belle Isle.
Things got interesting on the final lap when Barbosa got loose in his No. 5 Corvette DP while trying to chase down Cameron in rainy conditions and went into the tire barrier. Barbosa spun his way out of trouble, but not before Oswaldo Negri got past him to finish second in the Honda HPD Ligier.
Still, Barbosa made sure he would get a podium finish (third place) by battling his way past Joey Hand (No. 01 Ford EcoBoost Riley DP) during the final half-lap.
Eric Curran started the race in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Chevrolet Corvette DP, then gave way to Cameron during the midway point of the 1 hour, 40-minute race with the car in third place. Cameron went on to win by 18.631 seconds.
Cameron's run didn't start well though.
"Eric (Curran) did a super job during his stint and the car came in third, which was great and then I made a mistake in the box (pits), stalling it and I was pretty disappointed, putting us fourth," said Cameron, who won the Tudor United SportsCar championship in the GT Daytona (GTD) class last year. "We had a really strong car though and we were really, really strong through (Turns) 1 and 2 and I knew if we could get close we'd have a really good chance to pass going into 3. All the Prototype guys were respectful so it's good, hard racing all the way through.
"It's good, satisfying to get our first Prototype win, to do it here, to do it in Detroit, to do it for Chevrolet. It's quite a special day."
Said Curran: "The car was really good for me, the best it's ever been this season. Dane did a good job, charged forward, got around the No. 5 car (Barbosa), which is not an easy thing to do, then around the No. 10 (Taylor) so impressive stuff. He just did a phenomenal job."
Coincidentally, Cameron's father, Rick, is the engineer for the Visit Florida Racing No. 90 car driven by Richard Westbrook and Michael Valiante, who entered the day with the points lead. They finished fifth.
Taylor was penalized while running second during the final 10 minutes of the race after making contact with Townsend Bell. Bell, who competes in a Ferrari 458 Italia in the slower GTD cars, slid into the tire barrier while Taylor continued in his pursuit of Cameron.
Taylor will now be in pursuit of Le Mans where he will hop on a plane Saturday evening, then a train in the morning to practice in a Corvette at Le Mans in the GTE Pro Class.
At the conclusion of the race, a multi-car accident took place due to the rainy conditions with the safety truck also involved. The safety truck was checking on the No. 58 Porsche driven by Jan Heylen. Then, then No. 007 car driven by James Davison slammed into the safety truck. Heylen was treated and released.
Davison competed in the Indy 500 Sunday, finishing 27th.
O'Connell's Belle Isle win streak halted
Kevin Estre ended Johnny O'Connell's dominance on Belle Isle in the Pirelli World Challenge series Saturday morning, winning the Cadillac V Series Detroit Grand Prix.
Estre, making his first start on the island, topped the GT field in his No. 9 McLaren 650S GT3 in a 50-minute, caution-free event, beating series points leader Olivier Beretta by 9.6 seconds. It was his third win of the season.
Beretta, who started from the pole in the No. 61 Ferrari 458 GT3 Italia, continues to hold on to the lead in the fight for the series championship with Race No. 2 set for Sunday.
Chris Dyson also earned a spot on the podium (third-place) in the No. 16 Bentley GT3. O'Connell finished fourth in his No. 3 Cadillac ATS-VR GT3.
O'Connell swept last season's two races on the island and had won four of the previous five events in Chevrolet's headquarters in the background.
Beretta's little miscue on Lap 2 enabled Estre to slip by and then lead the rest of the way.
"He made a small mistake on (Turn) 8 and got a bit out of line and then somehow I got a really good exit out of 10 and could pass him," said Estre of his pass on Beretta. "Then, I think we had a really good car so I was able to put a gap (on the field). We were a bit faster than everybody else."
Beretta was pleased with having a caution-free race.
"We had a really good race, no yellow, no contact, nice clean fight and the championship is very competitive with good drivers and good teams," Beretta said.
Dyson started seventh.
"It's so competitive, the quality of the top eight guys in the series is just unbelievable, racing is so ferocious and you have to fight for every square inch out there," Dyson said.
"I think it's a testament to all the hard work the series has done to try to make all the cars balanced, as you can see they are considerably different, but really the lap times, there was nothing between the top four guys. I'm looking forward to tomorrow."
O'Connell felt he good start.
"I slipped into third and I expected a lot of action between the McLaren (Estre) and the Ferrari (Beretta) ahead of me," O'Connell said. "The McLaren made a good move and the Ferrari squeezed him down.
"I was studying them and waiting for an opportunity to move up. Unfortunately the Lamborghini got into the back of me twice. Saving the car, I hit the traction control off and then I spent a lap or two gathering it back up."
Points leader Henrique Cisneros won his first race of the season in the GTA division in the No. 30 Ferrari 458 Italia GT3.
"I finally got the big monkey off my back," Cisneros said. "The race went very well. It was smooth sailing from the beginning."
Viso wins again
E.J. Viso overtook teenager Scotty Steele late in the race to win the Speed Energy Stadium Truck Series event.
Viso, who swept the two races a year ago, finished second Friday to series' founder Robby Gordon.
Steele, a high school junior from Arizona, finished second and was followed by Burt Jenner.
Race No. 3 will take place Sunday afternoon.
Safety worker hospitalized
GT Daytona driver Jan Heylen was evaluated and released after an accident at the end of the IMSA race that involved several cars, including one that crashed into a safety truck that was on the track. One safety worker was hospitalized and was being kept overnight for observation. Another safety worker was evaluated and released from the infield care center.
Associated Press contributed.